// Blog
4 Steps to Overcoming Sales Objections

4 Steps to Overcoming Sales Objections

blog author
Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

The word "no" can be a tough pill to swallow.

When you're trying to meet a sales quota, squeeze in an extra deal before the end of the quarter, or get your bonus, the word "no" is too often interpreted as a sign to run for the hills.

Worse, some sellers see objections as a call to battle and handle objections poorly. However, sales objections are also an opportunity to start a conversation with your buyer about what they’re looking for—and how you might provide it.

A 4-Step Approach to Overcoming Sales Objections

When a buyer indicates that they’re not ready to buy, don't get discouraged. Use the following four steps to overcome sales objections and move closer to the sale:

  1. Listen
  2. Understand
  3. Respond
  4. Confirm

The RAIN Group 4-step approach to overcome sales objections: 1. listen; 2. understand; 3. respond; 4. confirm.

1. Listen Fully to the Objection

Your first reaction when you hear an objection may be to jump right in and respond immediately. Resist this temptation. When you react too quickly, you risk making assumptions about the objection. Instead:

  • Take the time to listen to the objection fully
  • Don't react defensively
  • Train yourself to ignore any negative emotions you may be feeling
  • Stay focused on what the buyer is saying and the business problem you’re helping to solve
  • Listen with the intent of fully understanding the buyer's concerns without bias or anticipation
  • Allow your body language and verbal confirmations to communicate to the buyer that you're listening intently 

Read How to Build Rapport in Sales. >>

2. Understand the Objection Completely

Many objections hide underlying issues that the buyer can't or isn't ready to articulate. Often the true issue isn't what the buyer first tells you. It's your job to get to the heart of the objection and understand its source.

To do this, ask permission from the buyer to understand and explore the issue. From there, restate the concern as you understand it. When you restate the objection, the buyer may see the issue more fully. This is how you can get closer to the true nature of the objection.

Even after the buyer confirms you understand perfectly, ask "What else?" and "Why?" questions for clarification. Often, it’s the answer to that last "What else?" that contains the biggest objection you need to overcome to move the sale forward.

3. Respond Properly

After you're confident you've uncovered all objections, address the most important objection first. Once you work through the greatest barrier to moving forward, other concerns may no longer matter as much to the buyer.

You should do your best to resolve their issue right away if possible. The more effectively you can resolve issues in real time, the greater chance you have of moving the sale forward. If you need more information to resolve a specific concern, you may have to look something up or investigate further.

Don't wing it. When buyers sense a seller is ad libbing, it creates distrust. Long-winded responses can seem insincere, too, so keep your responses clear and to the point. 

4. Confirm You've Satisfied the Objection

Once you've responded to the buyer's objections, check if you've satisfied all of their concerns. Just because they nodded during your response doesn't mean they agree with everything you said. Ask if the buyer is happy with your solution and explain it further if necessary. Sometimes you need to go through a process to overcome sales objections, rather than provide a quick answer or a-ha moment.

If the buyer isn't ready, don't try to force a commitment. Be sure not to accept a lukewarm "yes" for an answer either. Many buyers will accept a solution in the moment, but once you're out of sight or off the phone, the objection still remains.

The 4 Types of Sales Objections

Sales objections often signal that you haven’t made the value proposition case to the buyer as powerfully as possible. Typically, sales objections fall into one of four categories.

  1. Need
  2. Urgency
  3. Trust
  4. Money

While these common sales objections might seem like steep hills to overcome, don’t despair: an objection indicates that the buyer is engaged, which sure beats apathy.

But you still have work to do.

1. Need

In this case, your buyer doesn't yet perceive, or doesn't yet admit, the need to solve a problem. There may be a mismatch between their expectations and what you’ve communicated to them so far. This could be a sign that you haven’t made your impact case clear.

Ask open-ended questions to dig deeper and start a conversation about where they might find value.

Examples of Need Objections

Ideally, you’ve done your research and the buyer has an idea of the value you can provide. If they bring up a need objection, it’s a sign to explore their aspirations and afflictions further.

1. Existing Competitor Relationship

“We’re already working with <competitor>.”

While it can be discouraging to hear a buyer is already working with one of your competitors, this type of objection also means that they see a need for your solution.

Some amount of the groundwork for what you can provide has already been done for you. Ask questions to understand their relationship with your competitor. Don’t trash talk the competition, but address any complaints they may have and share how you can handle them better.

2. Pain Points

“X isn’t an issue for us.”

This objection may be based in need or urgency. To respond, you don’t have to say much. There’s a good chance they’ll keep talking if you prompt them to elaborate on their current priorities and issues.

Sometimes, your buyer may be aware of the challenges associated with a certain pain point and are trying to rationalize. More than most, this objection is your cue to discover their needs and work out a solution accordingly.

3. Lack of Understanding

“I don’t understand your solution.”

Getting additional context is important here. Ask your buyer what, specifically, they don’t understand. When necessary, bring in someone well-versed in the specifics of your offering to help answer questions. If you can’t help them understand in a limited period, it could be a sign that you’re not a good match.

4. Specific Need

“We’re looking for a specific feature your solution doesn’t have.”

If you’re able to adapt to meet your buyer’s needs, great! Discuss the ways in which you can find a compromise. As always, understanding your full suite of offerings is critical to being able to respond and find a fitting solution.

5. Compatibility

“Your product won’t work with X tool or technology.”

It can be difficult to move forward if your buyer is reliant on something that isn’t compatible with your solution. However, you can often explore their exact use cases for their existing tools. Their current setup may have a viable workaround or may not be as important to their needs.

In some cases, your solution may even be able to supplant their setup.

2. Urgency

Here, the buyer doesn't yet see why the issue is pressing. Similar to need-based objections, this is an opportunity to ask more questions about their current priorities and challenges.

Part of your value proposition is the reason why a buyer should feel compelled to move forward with you ASAP. If you have a good understanding of why your solution should be a priority and can communicate this to the buyer, you can properly drive urgency with them.

Examples of Urgency Objections

When your buyer lacks urgency, it can be difficult to move the sale along. However, if you pressure them, you might lose it entirely. Balance patience, but don’t let your buyer go cold.

1. Too Busy

“We have too much going on right now.”

The buyer might say they don’t have time to talk to you or express that they don’t have time for your offering. It helps to empathize with them and listen rather than insist on moving forward.

If you’ve done that and you’re still speaking to them, you can offer a quick overview of your solution or company. If they don’t currently have the time, it’s worth providing a specific follow-up time to talk further. Be specific about the time needed and keep meetings brief.

2. Delay

“Reach out to me in a few months and we can talk then.”

Often, buyers are more comfortable delaying rather than saying no outright, in hopes that you give up. Following up later isn’t the end of the sale, but it’s worth understanding whether their delay is based on other priorities, a lack of interest in your solution, or some other factor.

3. Request for Information

“Just send me the info and I’ll get back to you.”

This type of objection may simply be an attempt to brush you off. If you can, engage further and ask the buyer to specify which type of information they’d like to receive. Prepare to craft a relevant follow-up and specify a time for your next call if possible.

4. Commitment Aversion

“I like your solution but I don’t think I can commit right now.”

It may be tempting to press forward when a buyer gets stuck on commitment, but patience is key. Learn the reason for their hesitation and address any issues they may have rather than pushing for a definitive answer.

3. Trust

Trust is one of the most fundamental drivers of sales. If your buyer feels uncertainty about you, your solution, your company, or your outcomes, they’ll be much less likely to engage further.

Even if your buyer hasn’t heard of you, there are still ways to build trust in sales. To do so, you’ll need to demonstrate your expertise and even provide examples of past work. Trust is also built on rapport. Building that connection won’t be easy, but if you’re patient and treat rapport as a skill rather than a sales tactic, you’ll be able to establish it over time.

Examples of Trust Objections

Trust objections may sound like personal attacks. Stay level-headed and empathetic as you work through your buyer’s concerns.

1. Contract Aversion

“I don’t want to sign a contract right now.”

This can also be an example of a money objection if your buyer has concerns about future budgeting. Learn what kind of payment schedule would fit their needs and their reasons for not wanting to sign a contract. In any case, be flexible and understanding.

2. Lack of Familiarity

“I haven’t heard of your company.”

Provide your buyer with an overview of your value proposition. Don’t launch into a full pitch, and end on a follow-up question related to your buyer’s needs.

3. Reputation

“I’ve heard about issues with your company from X.”

Whether it’s a bad review, a statement from a competitor, or another third party, speaking to a prospective buyer who has a negative view of your organization can be daunting.

Fortunately, you can provide them with a better experience. Instead of getting defensive and trying to refute the criticism, thank your buyer for their feedback. If the issue is something you’re already working on fixing, mention that as well. End on a high note—turn the conversation toward your perks and benefits once you’ve addressed their critique.

4. Past Failures

“I’ve tried similar solutions and they haven’t worked.”

If your buyer has tried similar solutions without success, this is an opportunity for you to differentiate. Let them share their frustrations and ask questions about what went wrong in the past.

Once you’ve discovered their pain points, it’s up to you to demonstrate how your offering is different. Work to understand what kind of evidence your buyer will trust and provide concrete examples where you can. You may even have industry experience or similar that other organizations haven’t.

4. Money

You’ll hear price and budget objections more frequently than any others. As with the other types of objections, money objections are often an indication that your buyer might not fully understand your value.

Communicating ROI is an important step to responding to money objections, but it isn’t the only one. Most buyers don’t make decisions purely on ROI. You’ll need to make a case that your solution will close the gap between where the buyer is and where they want to be.

Inspire buyer confidence with the 9 skills in this article. >>

Examples of Money Objections

When buyers push back on price, they often mean something entirely different than what they say. Work to get to the heart of the objection. Here are 6 common money objections, what they sound like, and what they mean:

1. Whack Back

“Wow, that’s a lot. Can we do it for less?”

This comes from the buyer who always asks for a price reduction because it’s worked in the past. Their philosophy is that it can’t hurt to ask.

Often, the buyer feels that the price is too high without understanding why. Ask them their logic behind their assessment of your price. They may compare you to a competitor or other offering, at which point you can differentiate your solution.

2. Bluffing

“Oh, I don’t have the money. We’ll need to do it for less.”

Sometimes the buyer has the money but doesn’t want you to know that. It’s a ploy to see how low you’ll go. Even if you think this is the case, you never know for sure.

As with other money objections, don’t immediately agree to a lower price point. Focus on the value that makes your solution worth it and use this objection as an opportunity to learn more about their priorities and where their budget might be going.

3. Value Challenge

“It costs too much. Money is going to be a problem.”

The buyer doesn’t see the value your solution delivers. Perhaps they can’t justify spending more than they did previously.

This is often a sign you haven’t communicated your value clearly or made the impact case for your solution.

4. Budget Pushback

“It’s not in the budget.”

This can mean one of several things:

(a) It’s true, and they’d like to see what can be worked out.

(b) It’s true, and they’re using that as a bargaining chip.

(c) It’s not true, and they’re just saying it.

Depending on the exact nature of a budget objection, you can respond in several ways. If the buyer’s budget is being used for something else, it’s worth exploring your value proposition and the ways that your solution will justify the spend and become a priority for your buyer. If budget is a dead end for your buyer, discuss any solutions that might better fit their budget and offer to follow up to check in later if things change.

5. Competitor Pressure

“We received other proposals and your price is the highest.”


(a) It’s true, and they’re using that as a bargaining chip.

(b) It’s not true, or at least not the whole truth. 

In either case, this tells you that the buyer feels a need for what you’re selling. Ask about other offers and differentiate where you can. If they’re still not swayed, it’s at least an opportunity to learn where you might fall short in comparison to your competition.

6. We’re Done

“Too much money. Call me back if you can go lower.”

Your buyer could mean:

(a) It’s a bluff, and they assume you’ll come back with a lower price.

(b) It’s not a bluff, and they hope you’ll lower your price to do business.

Hearing this objection may tempt you to drop price to get a sale. In this case, evaluate the situation by understanding your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). Before ending the call, learn the rationale behind their objection. If you have to make a change to your solution, change the scope rather than lowering your price in a vacuum.

Strategies for Responding to Money Objections

To overcome money objections without lowering your margins, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Choose your words wisely: As much as you might like to respond, “You get what you pay for,” or, “Those are our fees and we’re worth every penny,” don’t. There's no glib, pat answer to money objections.
  • It’s not all about the money: Price is often a “red herring” objection. Work to uncover the real objection. Ask questions. Find out if money is really the issue with one simple question: “If money wasn’t an object, what then?” This will usually lead you to the root objection to the sale.
  • Get back to value: Communicate a clear picture of the value of the solution you established in the selling process. The right buyer can usually “find” the money if the value is too strong to pass up—if the solution you’ve proposed answers their needs especially well. Most times when buyers say, “Your price is too high,” what they’re really saying is, “I don't see the value of your solution.”
  • Ask, “Which part don’t you want?”  Review the component parts of the solution. This may lead to either a reduction in scope or having the buyer realize the whole package is the best solution.
  • Don’t talk cost structure: You’ll end up going down a slippery slope if you start justifying your price by what your costs are.
  • Don’t drop price in a vacuum: If you’re willing to simply drop your price, you’re telling buyers this is the way you operate. Instead, explore new possibilities, change scope, or make a trade that could change the price. An arbitrary price reduction can sow mistrust and set the precedent for lower prices for as long as you work with that buyer. Always trade for value.
  • Maintain a peer relationship: Don't appear to look upward for guidance at your organization, even if you might have to.
  • Be sure you’re talking with the decision maker: You may be dealing with the wrong buyer who isn't high enough in the organization or isn't the economic decision maker. Money is certainly an objection for them because they can't pull the trigger even if they wanted to.

Overcoming Sales Objections Is About Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize

When faced with sales objections, don't lose sight of your end goal: overcome the sales objection and make advances towards gaining commitment from the buyer.

In a transactional sale, sellers are taught to overcome objections at all costs. This doesn't work for more complex sales. If you just plow through the objection without addressing it fully, the underlying reason for the objection will usually come back to haunt you.

Remember, you have to work with these people once you're done selling to them!

We also like to remind sellers that objections have merit: they're often a sign that something else is going on. Your purpose is to understand the objection fully, isolate it, and respond to it appropriately—not necessarily rebut, counter, and argue. You may need to build a case for overcoming an objection instead of answering quickly on the fly.

Use the four steps to Listen, Understand, Respond and Confirm, and you’ll strengthen your relationships with buyers, overcome obstacles in the buying process, and move closer to the sale.

Published March 6, 2024

Topics: Sales Conversations