As much as we probably all wish it wasn’t (I know I do! 😅), overcoming objections is a part of the sales process. It’s going to come up on your discovery calls. And just like you need to have a system for your discovery calls, you also need to have a system in place to handle objections that your prospective clients might have.
First, I want to talk about the systematic approach that I recommend taking if you need to handle objections on a discovery call. Then, I’m also going to talk about some common objections you might face in your business and exactly how to handle them.
How to Handle Objections on a Discovery Call
Research the Prospective Client
Before you even get on the discovery call, make sure you do your homework! There are some key things that you’ll want to research about any prospective client before the call. I cover this in-depth in my post on how to build a discovery call system.
Researching your clients before you get on the discovery call will allow you to learn as much as you can about them. This can be valuable knowledge — for the discovery call in general, but especially if you need to handle objections on the call!
Knowing some foundational information about your client can help you craft your responses and questions while you handle objections so that you can relate better to your client and give them relevant information to their specific business.
You also may be able to identify possible objections before you even get on the call based on your research of them. Their demographics, length of business ownership, industry, etc. can all be important information that could give you clues into their psyche.
For example, older clients may be more hesitant to invest in something like Instagram marketing because they aren’t as social media savvy. (But that’s just an example and not always true! The longer you’ve been doing discovery calls, the better you’ll be able to identify the trends in your specific niche.)
Listen to Your Client’s Objection(s)
This is one of the most important steps of a discovery call. Especially if you need to handle objections! You need to actually LISTEN to what your clients have to say.
Some clients are chatty and will come right out and tell you everything. But other clients clam up, and you might have to probe a bit and ask questions. 🕵️♀️ If you’re unsure what to ask, I have a list of questions to ask prospective clients inside of The Systems Society.
One way or the other, they will eventually share information with you. And even if they do have objections, it’s important to deeply listen to them and hear them.
“Listen to them” may seem like an obvious tip. But being a good listener is actually a skill that not everyone has. I’ve definitely had to practice it! Especially when they are voicing a concern, you might feel so tempted to jump in and dismiss their worries that you’re not actually taking to heart what they are saying. But that is when good listening is the most important!
Hearing them fully explain what their objection is and why they have it can be really valuable. Knowing what prospective clients think about your services and the worries they have is one of the best kinds of market research you can get!
Use this as an opportunity to put yourself in your clients’ shoes and understand where they might be coming from. Pay attention to the exact language they’re using when describing their concern. Then, you can use it in the future when chatting with other prospective clients. Or even on your sales page! Chances are, if one person has this concern — other potential clients are going to feel the same way.
Never Interrupt a Prospective Client
Above all else, never interrupt the prospective client — even if they are bringing up an objection — no matter how much you want to. Sometimes, all a prospective client wants is just to be heard. And if you can do that for them, they’ll appreciate you for it.
Plus, paying attention and not interrupting shows that you really are hearing them. You aren’t just making this about the sale — you’re actually trying to help them.
When you handle objections, it’s important to make sure that you fully understand what they’re trying to say. If you interrupt them, you risk cutting them off before an important clarification. You might misunderstand their point or never really get to the root of the problem.
Always let them finish their entire thought process before moving on to address the objection (as long as they are staying within your time boundaries of the discovery call).
Clarify the Objection
In order to handle objections properly, you need to make sure you understand EXACTLY what the issue is and then clarify it with them.
Discovery calls, especially when it comes to objections, are landmines for potential misunderstandings. Clients aren’t always the best at clearly explaining their issues. Clarifying allows you to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Don’t skip this step and move right onto directly combatting the objection. If you do that, you might actually end up addressing the wrong issue. And, obviously, that won’t be helpful to them (or get you closer to making the sale). In fact, it’ll probably make them upset, angry, or confused. You don’t want that!
Get to the Root of the Objection Before Clarifying
Besides just restating the obvious, clarification can help you get to the root of the objection. And (surprise!) that isn’t always what the client initially explained. Oftentimes, what they explain is merely the symptom of a deeper issue.
For example, let’s say their objection is based on the price of your offer. (They might say something like “I can’t invest at that level right now.”) That could be the truth.
Or it might be a symptom of a deeper problem. Like they don’t…
- Have realistic expectations about what a high-quality service provider in your niche costs
- Recognize the value of the service you provide
- Understand how your service works and/or what results you can provide for them
- Value (or aren’t serious about) their own business
For example, a lot of people reach out to me because someone told them they need to be on Pinterest. But they don’t necessarily understand how Pinterest works and what kind of results it can give them. So if they said “I can’t invest in Pinterest right now” — that’s a clue to me that it’s possible there is a deeper problem at hand, like they don’t understand how beneficial Pinterest could be for their business.
Again, this isn’t true every single time (even though I’m a Pinterest manager, I don’t recommend that every business use Pinterest!). But if you have evaluated them as a prospective client and do really think that they’d get good results or benefit from your service, that’s a big red flag that you need to help them understand what they’d be missing out on if they didn’t invest.
Ask Questions to Help Identify the Problem
If it seems like there might be a deeper root cause of their objection, ask probing questions to get to the bottom of it.
For example, let’s say a client said: “I can’t invest at that level right now.”
Don’t say things like “Why not?” or “You really should invest!” Instead, ask them something like:
- “Why do you feel like now isn’t the right time to invest?”
- “What is holding you back from investing?”
Keep it broad. Don’t be as specific as “Why don’t you want to invest in me/my services?” That will put them on the defensive and possibly make them not open up to you because they’re afraid to hurt your feelings.
If you want to get more specific, talk about your services in vague terms, like:
- “What would make Pinterest more ‘worth it’ to you?”
- “What makes you feel like now isn’t the right time to get started with Pinterest?”
Don’t duck their concerns or try to convince them that they are wrong. Just keep asking questions to unravel their thoughts. This will help you be able to better serve them and allow you to both gain clarity about whether or not it’s the right fit.
By asking open questions like this, instead of in a direct or accusing way (or not asking questions at all), it allows them to see how genuine and truly willing to help you are as well as continues the conversation so you can learn more about their needs.
Reaffirm Their Objection
Once you feel like you understand the full depth of their objection and have asked all of your clarifying questions to make sure that you’ve gotten to the root problem, reaffirm with them that you do understand.
Repeat their concern back to them. Try to use the exact language that they used when describing it to you. This type of mimicking makes them feel heard and like you guys are on the same wavelength.
When people feel seen and heard, it helps build their trust in you. When people trust you, they are more likely to buy from you. It really is that simple!
Say something like: “What I’m hearing from you is [INSERT OBJECTION HERE]. Are we on the same page with that?”
As you’re addressing their objection (see more on how to do this below!), it’s important to both (a) give specific explanations of why that issue is not a problem, and (b) give at least one specific example of how you’ve exceeded expectations in this area in the past.
For example, if they are concerned about your level of expertise, you will want to give them specific details on how experienced you are. Plus give an example of results you’ve achieved with other clients.
Something like: “I’ve specialized in Pinterest marketing for 4 years and have worked with many different types of accounts. I’ve actually been working with a client who has a business similar to yours. [Give more details here.] And we’ve been able to double their traffic in just a few months!”
If possible, share the story of a client who had similar reservations. Detail how you successfully worked with them and saw results.
4 Common Objections and How to Handle Them
“You’re too expensive.”
There’s a simple way to fix this — list your pricing on your website! I am a firm believer in that, specifically for service-based businesses, it’s important to do this.
You don’t need to list the exact price, especially if you do custom packages. But, at the very least, include a range (i.e. my services are between $X and $Y). This way, prospective clients already know what to expect before they get on a discovery call with you.
If they still seem reticent to invest with you, you can handle objections in this area by conveying to them the value you can provide and the results your service will give them.
For example, let’s say that a prospective Pinterest client is unsure if they want to invest in management for yet another social media platform. I’d explain to them that Pinterest is actually a lot more of a visual search engine and that, unlike other platforms, it’s a really powerful traffic-generation tool. They can expect to skyrocket their traffic once they start working with me. And we can even use it to strategically grow their reach, nurture their audience, and build their list.
Once they understand how you can help them and what types of results they can expect to get, they will become much more ready to invest, because it seems so much more worth it to them!
It’s also important to identify what their goals are at the start of the call. You can remind them of those later on and use that as you handle objections. Say something like “I remember that you said getting traffic to your sales page is a really important goal to you! My service can help you do that by….”
“I had a bad experience with someone else.”
This is probably the most common objection that I have to field on discovery calls. I’ve had a LOT of prospective clients mention bad experiences with other service providers. Usually what happens is they’ve previously worked with someone else and it didn’t go well. They’re hoping they can find a better fit in you.
This type of objection is actually so valuable to me as part of the sales and service delivery process. It shows me what’s really important to them. It also unveils a key indicator of success that they might not even have known they had if they hadn’t had that bad experience that made them realize “Oh! This isn’t what I want.”
The first thing you should always do is sympathize with them and let them know that you’re not okay with whatever bad experience they had. Use this as a chance to connect with them and validate their concern.
Next, give them a specific example of either (a) how this would never happen with us, or (b) how you do it differently.
Example of How to Handle This Objection
For example, a common bad experience that some of my social media clients have is that a previous social media manager posted content on their platforms that didn’t reflect their brand voice or that they didn’t like.
My response to that would be something like:
“I’m so sorry that happened to you! I know how important it is to you that your content is on brand and truly sounds like you. Your voice and style is such an important part of your business. We always work really hard to make sure we get that right. When we first start working with you, we’ll have you fill out an intake form that asks questions about your brand. This helps us create content that’s as on-brand as possible. We also never publish content on your social channels without your permission! You’ll get the chance to review everything before it gets published. You can make edits to the content yourself, or you can give us feedback and we’ll make changes for you.”
“I don’t know what I need help with.”
Sometimes clients come to you and they either (a) know that they need help but aren’t sure of exactly how you can help them or what kind of help they specifically need, or (b) they think they need one type of help but they really need another.
Personally, I recommend being as upfront and honest with your clients as possible. When a client doesn’t know what they need, ask them probing questions about their business to figure out what they’re struggling with.
If their biggest problem(s) is something you can actually solve with one of your offerings, pitch it to them as the solution. If what they need help with ISN’T something your offering can solve, don’t try to sell it to them anyway. Be honest with them and refer them to someone who can help.
You also might run into clients that think they need one type of help, but really need another. For example, a lot of clients come to me looking for Pinterest management because someone told them they need to be on Pinterest, but I chat with them and realize that they don’t even have any blog posts. This makes me realize that what they actually need is a content strategy. So I would pitch them on our blog posting services instead (or in combination with Pinterest).
Again, it’s important to be upfront with them. The best way that you can actually help them is to tell them that, in your expert opinion, they don’t need to focus on X, they need to focus on Y. If you can help them do that, pitch that offering. If not, refer them to someone who can.
Your prospective clients will appreciate your honesty and respect you as an expert if you give them the honest truth and don’t just try to sell them on your offering regardless of whether or not they’re actually a good fit for it (that’s just sleazy, desperate, and way to a horror service provider story!).
Either way, use it as an opportunity to explain what you CAN help them with.
This is a good idea for two reasons:
- Maybe they don’t need help with that right now, but they might later! They’ll come back to you.
- They might know someone that does need help in the area you can help with.
“I’m not ready.”
This is probably my second-most common objection. And this is exactly how having a concrete Discovery Call System in place is really going to help you!
If they aren’t ready to sign on the dotted line when they’re on the call with you, you’ll want to easily be able to follow up with them using email templates that you’ve already created as part of your Discovery Call System.
If you don’t have a Discovery Call System set up in your business already, make sure you check out my blog post on How to Build a Powerful Discovery Call System That Will Help You Make Sales.
You can also sign up for The Systems Society if you want full access to all of the templates, tech tutorials, and resources you’ll need to create an amazing, high-converting Discovery Call System.
Thinking about potential objections and preparing yourself for potential client concerns will help you retain composure and respond well to whatever they bring up on the call. The more discovery calls you do, the more you’ll find common trends in your industry. Over time, you will get more comfortable answering objections and having ready responses. You got this!!