194: How to Successfully Manage Customer Objections
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In today’s episode, Steli and Hiten discuss why they consider objections to be a gift. Listen as they explain the benefits of addressing objections, how to deal with the emotions you feel when dealing with criticism, and why it is essential to help and listen to your customers. They are also offering a sales bundle on Close.io that will help you manage your customer’s objections and many other aspects of your business as well.
Time Stamped Show Notes:
- 00:03 – Today’s episode is about how to manage customer and user objections
- 00:28 – This is not just about sales, this is about how to deal with customer’s objections with using your product and/or buying it
- 00:55 – Steli discusses the different kinds of user resistance
- 01:04 – Steli says you may be experiencing resistance because you may be building something unuseful
- 02:18 – Companies do not know how to categorize objections; nor do they know what to do with them
- 02:43 – Steli enumerates common objections such as “this is too expensive” or “I don’t have time”
- 03:10 – HOW you manage objections makes all the difference
- 03:21 – Steli discusses the “too expensive” objection
- 04:01 – Hiten says objections are a gift, objections help you figure out what’s actually wrong with your product and how you can improve
- 04:18 – Often it takes a lot of effort just to hear an objection, but it’s still good to hear them
- 05:10 – When it comes to a sale, there is a tangible endpoint—other types of objections can be grounds for improvement
- 05:49 – There is an emotional reaction when it comes to hearing objections
- 06:11 – There are objections that you hear again and again that can cause annoyance or discouragement
- 07:34 – There are two sides to objections being a gift; the business side and the personal gift side
- 08:12 – If you don’t listen to any objections, there is no reason for your existence
- 08:40 – You are there to HELP customers overcome the block that can decisively help them purchase the product or use it well
- 09:13 – It is your chance to give value to the world through your product by listening to objections
- 09:38 – You have to learn to get past your emotions and to respond to the objection immediately
- 10:24 – You solve objections not just for the one person who presented the problem to you, but also for your future customers or investors
- 11:17 – You want to understand what your customer is really saying
- 11:37 – In sales, there is a difference between excuses and actual, real objections
- 12:33 – Sometimes you solve it on a business level, sometimes it’s on a personal level
- 13:11 – Write down the top 10 objections and give possible answers
- 14:30 – Manage objections better by going to Close.io and getting their sales bundle
- 15:03 – End of today’s episode
3 Key Points:
- Consider objections as a gift—improving upon feedback will benefit you as it addresses the needs of your customers and future investors.
- You do not have to respond to an objection immediately; listen first and figure it out later.
- Learn to get past your initial emotions so that you can get used to addressing those objections.
Steli: Hey everybody, this is .
Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah, and today on “The Startup” chat, we’re going to talk about how to manage customer – and I’ll add user – objections. So Steli, this is not just about sales. This is just about, in general, how to deal with customers when they have objections about using your product, buying it, et cetera, correct?
Steli: Correct, absolutely. There’s a fine line … Let’s start with saying that if you get out there in the market, you try to convince other humans to use your product or buy your product. There is going to be resistance, right? And there’s differences of resistance. There’s some push back that you’re going to get, especially in the very early days, that might have to do with you building the wrong thing, or there not being a need for what you’ve built, right? So that’s when you do customer development that really early gets to truth … Try to figure out market product fit, to try to figure out “Are we creating something that people truly want? Are we solving a problem in a way that the customer really likes? Is what we’re thinking of creating worth creating?” And people will tell you what they don’t like about your idea or what might suck about it, and you need to kind of filter it through that lens – is it personal preferences that tell me something great about my customer base or my market in general? Then, once you move on from that and you’ve actually built something that enough people like, and you get traction, and you realize, “Yes, we have something that really solves a problem in a way that’s predictable and that’s measurable, and we’re on to something here. Things are growing,” you still are going to have to face user and customer objection and push back. Not everybody you talk to that should buy your product or should use your product will want to use it or will not have at least a- if not multiple – reasons why they think they can’t use it, and that’s the part that a lot of times companies feel like … They’re not thinking through. So what’s happening is, as they are entering the market more and more with their marketing, with their selling, and they’re encountering certain objections again and again and again, they don’t really know what to do about it, how to think about it, and how to manage these and how do you even categorize these. Let me just throw out one, because I think we’re going to have fun with it, but we can go through multiple ones. But there’s certain objections you’re going to get again and again and again. Things like “This is too expensive,” or “I don’t have time right now to use time management software to manage my time,” or “I don’t have time right now to switch from my current analytics tool to a different tool.” “I don’t have time. I don’t have the money. Why shouldn’t we use your competitor? Why are you better than a competitor?” There’s certain objections that everybody in the market faces, and how you think about them and how you manage them and how you prepare your company, your team, your business, to deal with them, I think, can make a big difference in the successes you see with it or not. Let’s just pick one of them, which is the “this is too expensive” objection. That’s one of my favorite ones. So let me ask you, if a founder comes to you and they’ve seen some traction, they have paying customers, it seems like it’s not so early that they don’t know at all what they’re doing, so they have some traction there … A few hundred customers, things are going well. But they come to you and they tell you, “You know what? A lot of customers, now that we’re doing it more … Kind of more aggressive, we’ll do more marketing, more selling. We hear that our product is too expensive. A lot of it … The customer doesn’t have the money. What’s your typical reaction or thought of inquiry to figure out how to help the startup with dealing with that objection?
Hiten Shah: Yeah, you know, I’ve got to say, objections are a gift. Objections are what help you figure out what’s actually wrong and what needs to be made better. So, when I hear a founder tell me something like that and say “Oh, I have these objections. We put some scale …” it’s a good problem to have. At least you’re hearing it. Usually you have to go spend so much effort to go hear an objection because no one’s going to tell you anything. So if you’re actually hearing it, there’s actually a lot more pull towards the customers wanting … Digging in enough where they’re actually willing to tell you what the objection is. So to me, when I hear that they’re actually hearing the objections, either they’ve got processes in place to hear them, or more often than not, there’s something there to their solution and these objections just help them learn how to frame it. So it helps you reframe; it helps you build a new feature; it helps you think through “How do I get this customer?” So to me, handling objections is one thing, and I know in sales you’re handling objections, so you’re like sitting there and saying, “I don’t want to buy.” Well it’s like … Well, why don’t you want to buy? … And try to dig into that objection is really important regardless. And then you’re trying to for it because you’re trying to get a sale and there’s a tangible end point. When it comes to other types of objections, to me those are all just learnings as to like how should you improve. So basically, to me, it just helps you point to how do I need to improve, what I need to do. So when I first hear an objection, I actually don’t try to solve it right away. I try to go dig into what it actually is, what are they objecting to, can I get to the root cause of it or the root answer, because then I can go figure out who to solve it.
Steli: I love it. I love that analytical mind frame because here’s one of the most important things. One of the things that I’ve noticed is most consistent when it comes to how people deal with objections is they emotionally react to them.
Hiten Shah: Oh, yeah. I knew you were going to say that, right?
Steli: They emotionally react to them. And because of the frequency of some objections … Some objections you’ll hear very rarely. A customer will bring up something that will prevent them from buying that you’ve never heard before, and you’re like, “Oh, wow, this is baffling me. I never heard this before. This is interesting.” But there’s plenty of objections … every company will have like a top ten list at any given time that you hear every day. You hear again and again and again. And what typically happens that people either get annoyed, they’re like “Huuuh.” And the emotional reaction’s like, “Huuuh, not another one.” Your response to a potential customer is like, “I’m annoyed with you right. I’m annoyed that you just said that.” Which is horrible, obviously. But then the other end of the spectrum is discouragement. People just go, “Oh, my God, this is never going to work.” Or “Oh my God, another customer that’s not going to buy because we suck, because our pricing’s too high, because this is not good, because we don’t have that feature.” And if you have an emotional response, except with the exception that if it’s excitement and curiosity, those are the emotional responses that I’m all for. But if you have a negative emotional response as your first reaction to an objection, you’ve already lost. You have already lost. You cannot learn, you cannot listen, and you cannot influence from that state, other than influence in a negative way. So, and this is not surprising, that you’re saying -and I love that quote, that’s definitely going to be the money quote of the episode – which is “Objections are a gift.” They are a gift. To me there’s two gifts on two sides. One side of the gift is they’re a gift to the business, which you covered, Heaton, with there’s things to learn here. Beautiful. The customer is honest or the prospect is honest. They’ve given you a data point. Now’s the time to learn more, to get insights, to collect more data. Once we have enough data we might be able to take that and make decisions. That’s a gift for our business. The flip side of the coin – I’ll cover the other side of the gift – which is the personal gift to you, to the person that’s hearing the objection. The gift to you is that here is a chance for you … If the person had zero objections, there would be no reason for your existence. The reason for you – as a father, as a salesperson, or as a business development person, or a P.R. Person, whatever your role is – when you talk to prospects and you’re trying to tell them the good story of your product or convince them to buy your product and they have an objection, something … a road block … Something they thinks stops them from utilizing your product to get the value out of it, that is a gift. That is your purpose, your reason for existence. You are there to help them overcome that mental block or that real block. You are there to help them figure out is that really a show stopper? Is that objection real and something that’s a good reason not to purchase the product? And if it is so, you’re going to help them to get to the decision more decisively, or are they lacking some information to know that that’s not really a problem and they can unlock the value of your product? But them telling you that they cannot buy while looking you in the eye, while talking to you directly, is a gift. It’s your chance to create value in the world by giving them information data, helping them think things through in a way that will allow them, now, to tap into the value of a product where we vowed to you they wouldn’t. And if you don’t have that mindset, that this is actually a gift … If you have the mindset that this is actually a gift, it makes all the difference in the world.
Hiten Shah: Yeah. I mean, you’ve got to get past that emotion somehow, right? And when you hear an objection, you just want to usually just solve it. You’re like, “Oh, let me just address it. Let me just address it.” That doesn’t usually work, even in sales, right? If you hear an objection and you address it right away, usually you fall flat on your face because you’re just responding to, and reacting to, something that you don’t need to. You need to be more practical about it. If I hear an objection once, whether it’s in sales or any other way, I’m actually a lot softer about it in terms of my emotion, because I’m like, “I only heard it once. It might not matter, but let me dig into it.” Then once I hear it two or three times, I’m like, “Oh crap. Maybe I have to do something about this.” That’s actually when I get emotional. I don’t get emotional and react to the customer or the user. I get emotional to go solve the problem so I don’t ever have to hear the objection again. And that’s what people forget. It’s like you hear objections; you don’t just solve it for that one person. You actually need to solve it so you never hear it again in your language, in your pitch, in your product, whatever it may be, that you’re hearing an objection about, and I think that’s what people forget.
Steli: One thing that’s really important to highlight, Heaton, is that you want to solve the real problem, right, and that’s why you’re saying, “I’m going to ask more questions to truly understand it.” Because some people would think, “Well, I heard five people say, well, ‘The pricing is a little too high. I would like it cheaper’,” and they think the problem is the pricing is too high, so let’s just make it cheaper. If you follow that path in certain markets, you’re going to have a free product and eventually you’re going to have to pay people to use your product, right, because even free is not going to be cheap enough. You need to, and not to say that you might have … That you might not have to lower your prices; maybe your prices are too high – but you want to understand why they’re saying the price is high, what the alternatives are and those prices, and truly understand what is the value you’re creating and how is the customer thinking about this, what are the budget constraints, what’s the buying process. You need to know what is the real issue when somebody tells me the price is too high. And in sales, there’s an old saying which is there’s a difference between excuses and true objections, and it’s your job in sales to realize, are they just giving you excuses or are they giving you actual objections? Objections you need to take seriously and help them figure out and try to solve with them, and excuses you need to actually … You know … In an honest way, push aside and make sure that, that’s not going to stand in the way from us going to do work. It’s the same thing as if you want to lose weight and workout and I’m your personal trainer, and you’re like, “Yeah, well this morning, you know, I didn’t have the breakfast the way I wanted. I’m not sure if my body’s ready for working out.” I’m like “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, bullshit. Let’s go. Doesn’t matter; good breakfast or not, we’re working out right now” verus “I sprained my ankle,” or whatever. “I have high fever this morning. I don’t think I should push my body more in a super intensive workout.” Just trying to understand what is the truth, what is the real problem. And then sometimes you need to … Sometimes you solve it on a business-wide level, and sometimes you just solve it on a personal level by giving them a solution to that. Oftentimes they might think they need a specific feature, and once you figure out what they’re trying to solve with that feature, you realize they can solve the same problem in a better way or easier way with something else in your product without requiring your business or your developer team to build that feature verbatim the way that your customer asked for it, right?
Hiten Shah: Yeah, totally; totally agree. That’s super powerful.
Steli: So, one thing that I’ve been teaching – more on the sales side than anything else when it comes to how to deal with objections – is to actually go through the exercise to recognize what are our top ten objections and write them down. Just to put them on paper, “Here’s the things we hear again and again and again,” and then you can do two things. One is, track them a little bit and try to understand how pressing are they and what about different ways for us to address them. But also actually write down the answers, like what is a possible answer that’s brief, one or two sentences, not compu … Because a lot of time people hear the same objection day in, day out. And every single time they hear a certain objection like … Let’s say they do cold calling and people on the phone say, “I don’t have the time right now” or “We don’t have this need,” or whatever, something that’s just an excuse. They don’t know enough about you yet; you don’t know enough about them yet to really make an educated decision if there’s a fit or not. They just hear … They just say something, and the salesperson will compute an answer in real time. Every single time they hear it, they’ll give a different response or answer to them. That’s not typically a good thing. You want to write down a possible answer that’s concise, that you can say with confidence. You don’t have to be a robot and read it, but you want to think through it and design what’s a good way to manage this, what’s a good way to respond to this, and learn more about it. There’s a real process – and objection management process – in the sales world that I’ve written down and templates we’ve created on how to do this really well, and I want to offer this to the audience now because it’s something we’re just launching this week. If you have a sales team and you want them to be able to manage objections better, just go to resources-dot-close-dot-IO-slash sales bundle. There is 20 different templates and … It’s not just on how to manage objections, but how to do lots and lots of other things when it comes to sales. Resources-dot-close-dot-IO-slash sales bundle, if you want an objection management bundle, but also a bunch of other things that should help you manage your sales team a lot better. Make sure to check that out, and I think that’s it from us for this episode.
Hiten Shah: See ya!
Steli: All right, bye bye.