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Sales - 10 min READ

11 Top Sales Objections & How to Respond to Each

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Author photo: Kent Holland

Kent Holland

Vice President of Sales at Copper

Sales objections are inevitable—if a prospect didn’t have some kind of hesitation, they would have already made a purchase.

But while 36% of salespeople say closing is the hardest part of their job, if you can reframe your mindset, you’ll see that sales objections are a good thing.

After all, they could’ve hung up on you.

By sharing their hesitation, your prospect is essentially telling you how to sell to them. You just have to listen—and, of course, know which tactics will help them overcome their objections.

That’s why we created this guide to the 11 sales objections you’re most likely to hear—and exactly how to respond to each of them.

When you go in prepared to handle any uncertainty a prospect can throw at you, you’ll learn that sales objections are nothing more than an opportunity—and you’ll be able to use them to close deals.

1. Financial concerns: Show your value

You’ve probably heard this one before. A prospect counters with “we just don’t have the budget right now” or even “I bet we could shop around for a better deal.

Financial concerns generally fall into one of two camps:

  1. The tire kicker who wants to be sure they don’t miss out on a deal
  2. The client who truly doesn’t have the budget for your services

Either way, resist the impulse to offer a discount—you’ll devalue your services and, once the initial discount expires, you may have to deal with this same objection all over again.

What you’re actually facing here is a client that doesn’t see your value.

The solution?

Offer evidence that the price tag is worthwhile. This is a great place to use case studies or customer success stories to your advantage.

For instance, blogger Sarah Von Bargen sells a $17 Ebook + Audiobook about budgeting. While that may not sound like a high price to pay, she still does a great job of putting that price in perspective using highly specific testimonials on her sales page.

Spend $17 to pay off $4000 of credit card debt? Who wouldn’t do that?

When you’re encountering financial concerns, it can be helpful to speak in terms of real dollars saved or earned.

Even if you can’t share exact numbers, though, showcasing the value of your product or service will make the investment sound like a no-brainer.

If your prospect is intrigued but seems to be facing extreme budget constraints, you might consider whether you can offer a monthly rate for your services.

It may also be necessary to file this objection under “timing concerns” (see below) and come back to the deal at a later date when they have more cash flowing.

2. Features questions: Learn about customer needs

When you hear a potential customer say “I don’t understand your product” or “I don’t understand what your company could do for me,” you know you have some education to do.

Many salespeople would know exactly how to respond—start running down your list of features and/or benefits. Unfortunately, if you start there, you’re missing the point.

Your prospect may already be fully aware of all of those features. What they aren’t understanding is how you are going to benefit them. So, instead of talking, now is the time to listen.

Ask your prospect about the challenges they’re facing (or refer to your notes in your CRM if this is something you already went over). Dig a step deeper into their pain points and get to know their goals.

For instance, if you run a social media marketing agency, you may hear that a prospect is having trouble with Facebook. But unless you know why they care about Facebook, it may be hard to close this deal.

Are they hoping to run Facebook ads to sell products? Do they simply want a presence to raise awareness? Do they just feel like they should be on Facebook?

Confirm with them that you understand their struggle by asking something like “What I’m hearing is that you want to be using Facebook actively to raise awareness, is that right?” to be certain you understand their struggles.

Only once you’ve confirmed that you know what they’re looking for, let them know how your team can solve that problem. Stay focused—don’t get into the weeds by touting other benefits unless they ask about them.

If they remain unconvinced, get specific.

Ask “is there a certain feature or service that you’re looking for?” Even if you can’t promise what they need right now, you might make a note of their request in your CRM and reach back out once that’s something you can offer.

3. Skepticism: Get specific

When you’re making big promises about all of the benefits of working with you—even when they’re all very real—it’s understandable that you may encounter some skepticism.

Objections like “It sounds good on paper, but…” or “How do I know you’ll actually deliver on this?” are sure signs that you’re encountering a skeptic.

This is the kind of sales objection that means your prospect is seriously considering working with you, but that you just need to get more specific on what that process will look like.

Time to start getting into the details—dig into the process that your team uses to get results and the timeline for working together.

Don’t feel the need to overpromise, just be realistic and specific about how you’ll work together.

  • How often does your team touch base with clients?
  • How often do you examine results and reassess processes?
  • What deliverables can your clients expect?
  • What does your process look like?

Lettering artist Jessica Hische is known for creating a big impact with small edits to well-known companies logos. She makes nearly imperceptible edits—which, she explains, makes it all the more important to explain her process on her website and in initial client meetings.

By showcasing the technical details she is skilled at noticing, she shows her value to clients, and sells future clients on both the process and the impact of her work.

It may be uncommon for your team to reveal the “secrets” of your process, but those are the exact details that can show your value and seal the deal.

4. Not the decision maker: Connect with the team

Sometimes, you’ve completely sold the person you’re speaking to, but they aren’t the one calling the shots. Now, you’re going to have to run through your entire sales presentation again.

That’s not a problem—it’s likely going to be easier the second time around, since you already have the buy-in from the prospect you’ve been speaking with.

When your prospect says “I’ll have to talk to my team about it” or “I’m sold, but my manager might need some convincing,” don’t leave them in charge of follow-up.

A response like “I totally understand. Perhaps we could set up a call with your manager to go over the details?” is your best bet.

By having the person you’ve already sold on the phone with the decision maker, you’re basically getting a teammate.

Just remember, you might have to start from scratch with their manager to get them up to speed. Create an instant connection by referring to your notes in your CRM and showing that you understand the issues they’re dealing with.

And, if new sales objections come up with this new person, just refer to the rest of this list.

5. Timing issues: Find the reason

You may hear “We’re pretty swamped right now…” or “Maybe a few months down the line.” This is a challenging objection because it can be hard to tell if you’re being blown off or it’s really not the right time.

The key to overcoming timing issues is to understand them.

Unless you can dig into why this isn’t the right time, you won't be able to know whether a follow-up call in a few weeks or months is worth your time.

When you ask why now isn’t a good time, you’ll likely hear one of a few scenarios:

  • They’ll open up about the timing issue, which will likely relate to another objection on this list (budget concerns, comparing competitors, indecisiveness).
  • They just aren’t interested and it’s time to walk away.
  • There is a legitimate reason, like the company is restructuring, and you’ll need to follow up in the future.

If you decide that the best course of action is to set up a call for the future, it’s especially important to take good notes.

In your CRM (preferably Copper!), be sure to make note of the conversation(s) you’ve had with this prospect. Note their challenges and goals, the reason you’re booking a follow up in the future, and any other sales objections they’re dealing with in addition to timing issues.

Scheduling in advance is always a challenge, so you may even want to set up a reminder email to go to them the day before your follow-up call.

Be sure you’re ready for your next call by setting yourself a reminder to dig through your notes again the day before.

For a B2B deal, you may also want to peruse the company’s website and social media feeds to remind yourself about what they do and check in on any updates.

6. Indecisiveness: Make it timely

As a sales person, you’ve done your job when you get someone to make a decision—even if it’s not in your favor.

A lost sale might be a bummer, but at least you know you can move on. An indecisive prospect, on the other hand, can waste your time and leave you hanging on a deal that may never close.

That’s why it’s such a headache to hear a prospect say “I just can’t decide.”

The opportunity this sales objection creates is simple—give them a reason to make a decision now.

Of course, you don’t want to push them too hard and turn a “maybe” into a “no.” Instead, offer a soft incentive and a reason why committing now is important.

This is a difficult hurdle, so much so that 42% of sales professionals say creating a sense of urgency is their top challenge when it comes to successfully selling.

It might be that getting them started working with you right away will help them prepare for their busiest season. Or, it could be seasonal—realtors, for instance, know the best seasons for listing and home shopping.

If one of those is the case, do a little education to be sure your potential customer understands that time is of the essence.

If you need to fabricate a little urgency, you can always offer a limited time sign up incentive, like a freebie or small discount.

Whatever it is, make it clear that their window is closing. And, if they still can’t make up their mind? Use your best instincts to feel out whether it would be best to follow up in a few months or walk away.

7. Competitor comparisons: Highlight differentiating factors

It can be so tiring to put all the effort into selling your services, just to hear about someone else.

When your potential new client says “we’ve actually been looking at a few vendors” or “your competitor is offering the same service for half the cost,” the key is to tactfully handle their concerns without complaining about your competition.

You need to be aware of your competitors in order to know how you stand out. Think of a profession like Real Estate—almost everyone knows a realtor, but the ones that get the most sales know what makes them different from everyone else.

For example, look at the website for Kim Spears, a realtor working in Vero Beach, Florida.

She doesn’t try to market herself to everyone buying and selling across Florida, but rather focuses on buyers in a luxury market. It’s even in her website address—

When your prospect brings up your competitor, you need to know your brand well enough to focus on your differentiating factors.

Do your employees go above and beyond? Do you offer a personal touch? Do you cater to a certain clientele, have great connections, or give back to the community?

Whatever you do, focus on your selling points instead of bad-mouthing your competitor. Take the high road and you’ll leave a good impression among your prospects.

8. Already under contract: Offer options

Sometimes, your competitor has already won the sale and your prospect will tell you “I’m already locked into a contract with your competitor.”

This may seem like a stopping point, but it can be a great opportunity. Depending on their phrasing, your prospect may be indicating a level of dissatisfaction high enough to consider a costly switch—and that’s a motivated buyer.

Get to know their situation by asking about why they chose that competitor, what they were expecting, and if they are meeting expectations. If you can, figure out how much longer they have in their contract as well.

Then, it’s all about returning to your differentiating factors. Again, don’t bad-mouth the other guy, just share what makes your company different (and better).

Try to focus on the concerns that your prospect just shared with you—if they complain that their current place doesn’t care about them, let them know about your employees’ personal touch.

Depending on your business, it may be worthwhile to offer to buy them out of their current contract or offer a discount to help offset the cost of switching.

If that’s not an option, focus on the value your company can offer that will make the cost to switch worthwhile.

9. Contract concerns: Offer an out

Dealing with a fear of commitment? You’ll probably hear things like “I don’t want to get locked into a contract” or “can we set up a trial run?”

Maybe they’re trying to keep their budget tight, they don’t quite understand your value yet, or they were recently frustrated by another contract service. Contract concerns really run the gamut, which can make them challenging to deal with.

Begin by making sure your prospect understands your value, and emphasize why you have a contract.

For instance, many marketing agencies have a contract to ensure that they work with clients long enough for them to start seeing results. It’s the nature of their business—there is a necessary learning and testing period.

If you can’t come up with a similar reason for your long-term contract, educate your prospect on your cancellation policy, money-back guarantee, or satisfaction guarantee.

Remind them of your roster of previous happy customers but let them know about their options, if any, should they not be happy with your results.

Framing the purchase as low-risk may be the key to closing this deal.

Graphic design company Crowdspring highlights their money-back guarantee right on their homepage, but you may want to offer a satisfaction guarantee if you want the chance to keep working until it’s right.

Finally, focus on the value that you’re able to offer thanks to your long-term contract arrangements. Prospects who balk at a contract may be dealing with financial concerns, so the thought of committing to pay you for an entire year might not be an easy decision.

Help them to see the value in your product or service and the finances may seem more approachable.

10. Stuck in the status quo: Look to the future

When a prospect says “we’re good with the way things are” or “we’ve been doing it this way for years and it’s working fine,” they’re stuck in the status quo.

They may see some value in your company, but not enough to make the switch seem worthwhile.

Or, they may be completely missing the vision of what you can help them achieve.

This is another place where listening to your prospect’s goals and concerns is crucial.

If they’re looking to grow their company but they’re satisfied with outdated graphic design, it’s likely easy for you to identify and explain the disconnect.

When a prospect is stuck in the past, it’s best to look to the future.

Start asking about how they’re planning to deal with new trends or upcoming changes, seasons, or lifestyle shifts.

For instance, “how much time do you want to spend doing [task] two years from now?” or “how are you planning to deal with Christmas sales volume this year?”

Listen to the answers to these questions carefully and you should be able to frame your solution as the way of the future.

11. Brush offs: Learn when to walk away

Of course, there are some sales objections that aren’t an opening for conversation at all. A brush off can hardly be called an “objection” because they aren’t objecting to anything specific—they’re just gone.

When you hear a prospect say “I’m not interested” or they stop getting back to you, hang up on you, or otherwise disappear, you’re being brushed off.

The key to dealing with this objection? Know when to walk away.

You never want to push a prospect past their breaking point or annoy a potential future customer.

At the end of the day, some people are never going to be a good fit for your product or service, and that’s okay. Pushing a disinterested prospect is just a waste of your time, so know when to cut your losses and walk away.

That energy can be redirected toward strong leads who just need a little smart strategy to help them overcome their sales objections.

Before you walk away, be sure to make a note in your CRM about whatever you did get to talk about—you never know when a prospect might be interested again, and you’ll want to be prepared.

In Copper, you can add a “Lost Opportunity Reason” to any prospects that you had to walk away from.

Sales Objections or Opportunities?

It’s frustrating to deliver a perfect pitch and have to deal with the hesitations that come next, but practice makes perfect.

When it comes to sales objections, you can choose to see a challenge or an opportunity. By focusing on what your prospect is telling you about how to sell to them, and being prepared with a great response, you can close the deal.

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