Overcoming Sales Objections: 12 Proven Strategies from the Sales Floor

Ask any salesperson about the most difficult part of their job, and the chances are fair that they’ll say handling objections.

Although objections are to be expected in any sales role, overcoming them isn’t always easy. The key is knowing how to really listen to what prospects are telling you, focusing on establishing genuine rapport, and demonstrating compelling value.

Abdulla Casino, a sales development manager at ZoomInfo, and Philip Nagel, a sales director at ZoomInfo, recently shared their extensive experience with handling objections effectively during webinars, including these 12 proven strategies from ZoomInfo’s sales floor.

But first, here’s an overview of how sales objections emerge, and why preparation is key to addressing them. 

What Do Sales Objections Look Like?

It’s common for prospects to bring up concerns during the sales process. A sales objection, broadly speaking, is anything your prospect raises that could slow down or kill a potential deal. 

Prospects might be concerned about product features, pricing, contract terms, customer proof, or a lack of brand awareness. No matter the source, it’s the job of the seller to tackle these concerns and ease the prospect toward a deal. 

Common Types of Sales Objections

  1. Satisfaction With the Status Quo: Most decision-makers are busy, and the buying process requires research and deliberation. Implementing new solutions involves some work, too. If your point of contact isn’t mindful of any major issues within their company, exploring your offer seems like a waste of time.
  2. Budget Objections: Lack of budget is one of the most common types of sales objections and one of the hardest to navigate. It’s worth noting that budget objections are often not about the amount. Rather, buyers don’t see enough value in your offer to justify the current price tag.
  3. Lack of Trust: Prospects usually openly state their objections, but they may withhold their real concerns if they lack trust in a rep or company. This mistrust can lead to vague responses, frequent competitor comparisons, and hesitation.
  4. Lack of Urgency or Lack of Time: Sometimes, a prospect might recognize that your solution could hold value. However, exploring new tools or services might be a low priority with other tasks awaiting completion.
  5. Not Enough Decision-Making Authority: Ideally, it shouldn’t come to this. In the early stages of communication, sales professionals should always try to establish who has the required buying authority and work to make contact with that individual.

No matter the source or character of the objection, it’s important for sales professionals to have a cohesive, consistent approach in dealing with sales objections. Here’s how ZoomInfo’s sellers attack sales objections.

Objection Handling Tip #1: Set the Tone with Your Energy

Casino’s first tip for successfully overcoming prospects’ sales objections actually takes place before your prospect even speaks, because salespeople’s energy can set the tone of the entire conversation and preempt objections before they even surface.

“Objection handling starts with your energy,” Casino says. “Your tone on the phone can uplift someone or indulge their anger. Have high energy and treat it as a human-to-human conversation. Be confident in the product. You’re teaching someone, so be joyful in that. It’s about having a teaching approach rather than just making another cold call.”

Objection Handling Tip #2: Don’t Be Afraid to Have Fun

Sales calls aren’t what most people would describe as “fun.” However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be.

According to Casino, the nature of B2B sales calls often makes people forget that, while millions of dollars in revenue or savings could be in play, a sales call is still just two people talking. Leaning into that, and openly acknowledging it, can be a great way to harness the positive energy established in 

“Something I like to go to if the prospect is in a joyful tone, similar to me, is like, ‘Hey, we’re a couple of grown-ups, we never get to play pretend. What if you had a magic wand?’” Casino says. “‘What would you fix about it?’ Just be blunt, be quick to the point, and see where we can fit the solution that we may have.”

Objection Handling Tip #3: Recognize Put-offs vs. Objections

Most salespeople have firsthand experience of irritable or difficult prospects. After all, the most effective cold calls are often interruptive, which can put even open-minded prospects on the defensive. 

However, it’s important to remember that, generally, most people are averse to confrontation. This means it can be difficult to determine whether an objection really is a valid concern or a “polite” brush-off.

According to Casino, knowing how to discern between the two is an essential skill for every salesperson, as is a willingness to dig deeper.

“When a prospect says they’re not interested in the first 30 seconds, they likely haven’t heard what we do,” Casino says. “So, ask them, ‘What are you not interested in?’ This opens the conversation. Often, they’ll say, ‘Whatever you’re selling.’ Explain briefly what your company does and ask if it sounds familiar. If they repeat their disinterest, persist politely, asking what they already have in place or what specifically doesn’t interest them. Persistence and curiosity about their needs can help find where our products and services fit.”

Objection Handling Tip #4: Schedule Meetings, Not More Calls

Similarly to recognizing the difference between a put-off and a genuine objection, it’s vital that frontline reps know when to cut their losses and walk away from a disinterested prospect. 

This is especially important when prospects ask reps to call them back – a tactic that, in Casino’s experience, rarely ends with a closed deal. Rather than accepting the vague promise of a future call, Casino recommends trying to secure even a short meeting with the prospect instead.

“If you pick up the phone and say you’re in a meeting, you’re not really in a meeting,” Casino says. “If it is worth connecting again, send a five-minute calendar invite to the prospect. ‘Hey, this is just to serve as a reminder so I can give you a call again,’ and then potentially send some value add. From there, ‘Hey, I wanted to see if we could extend this meeting, make it 20-30 minutes, and connect with our product specialist to talk through some of these questions you have.’ So, the ultimate goal is booking that meeting instead of making another call.”

Objection Handling Tip #5: Know When to Walk Away

Selling has arguably never been harder. Salespeople are under tremendous pressure to hit ambitious targets in challenging economic conditions, which makes walking away from a lead very difficult. 

However, it’s important for reps to recognize the point of diminishing returns and the value of their time when sales prospecting, especially when dealing with reluctant or disinterested prospects.

Simple bar chart comparing the impact of indecision on sales losses, indicating that 60 percent of sales are lost due to indecision.

“If they’re not responding and you’ve sent everything else to them, move on to the next one,” Casino says. “Having that abundance of prospects is crucial because if someone’s ghosting you and it’s been a week, you sent the calendar invite, you have to understand the value of your time. Are you going to be able to collect a couple more prospects rather than spending time on that one prospect? If you’ve truly done everything, then move on to the next.” 

Objection Handling Tip #6: Understand that Objections Aren’t Necessarily Bad

While prospects can and do use superficial objections to get salespeople off the phone, sales objections themselves aren’t always indicative of a negative outcome. 

According to Philip Nagel, a director of sales at ZoomInfo, objections are actually a good thing because they can reveal what really matters to prospects — frontline sellers just need to know how to listen. 

“One of the things I always talk about with my account executives — they say, ‘Phil, we got this objection, we got that objection.’ I like to say, ‘Take a step back. Why is that a bad thing?”” Nagel says. “Typically, if we get objections, we have real buyers. A real buyer could be someone in a position of power, someone involved in a strategic project, involved in solving for a current or even forward-facing pain point. But these objections are important because they let us know what our buyers or prospects are thinking.”

Objection Handling Tip #7: Preempt Objections Entirely

What better way could there be to overcome an objection than by avoiding it entirely?

Obviously, it’s not possible to mitigate every possible sales objection a prospect might raise. It is possible, however, to proactively preempt the objections you hear most often, and this is most effectively done as part of your introductory pitch.

ZoomInfo’s international sales representatives had an opportunity to put this into practice firsthand as we were expanding ZoomInfo’s international data coverage across Europe. During meetings with executives of European countries, our reps were frequently asked about ZoomInfo’s compliance with GDPR and other data privacy policies. 

“I would always ask my account executives to open up any presentation or conversation — whether it was for two minutes or the entire presentation — by talking about how ZoomInfo, as a publicly traded company, adheres to all compliance levels globally,” Nagel says. “Why was this important? We knew that halfway through the demo, our customer would ask, ‘How is this compliant? Is this GDPR compliant?’ We had a mutual path forward. We alleviated an objection that we saw 97% of the time upfront, making sure that our customers felt comfortable going into the conversation.”

Objection Handling Tip #8: Go Beyond the Initial Objection

As ZoomInfo’s Chief Revenue Officer, James Roth, explained in our recent series on selling to the C-suite, there will be times when you will be met with hard, immovable objections, such as spending freezes or headcount reductions. In those situations, there may be very little you can do to move things forward, and attempting to do so could actually harm your credibility.

However, while recognizing immovable objections is important, so is knowing how to dig deeper to discover what’s really bothering your prospect. As Nagel explains, in his experience, the first objection is rarely the real problem.

“‘This is too expensive,’ ‘we didn’t budget for this,’ ‘we spent 90% of our budget” — typically, that’s not the case,” Nagel says. “Typically, the case is they might not see the value. Maybe you didn’t understand their use case. Address the objection head-on and validate that concern. Get your prospects, your buyers, to clarify. Listen to understand, not to respond.”

Objection Handling Tip #9: Reframe Concerns to Remove Potential Barriers

Just because a prospect may have a legitimate sales objection doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in what you have to offer. 

Rather than approaching objection-handling as an argument to be won, Nagel recommends trying to work together with your prospect to overcome obstacles and move deals forward. 

“Another great technique is to reframe,” Nagel says. “‘Hey, Phil, it sounds like pricing is a concern. If I were able to work on the commercials a little bit more, do you think we have a deal?’ ‘Hey, Phil, privacy and compliance — it sounds like it’s still a concern to you. Should we set up some time with our privacy team to make sure that we address any of those concerns?’”

Acknowledging legitimate concerns is just the first step. According to Nagel, good objection-handling isn’t just about overcoming obstacles to a signed contract, it’s about making your prospect feel that their concerns have been heard and addressed.

“As you’re using these techniques, whether it’s mirroring to get people to open up [or reframing], the most important aspect to finalize when it comes to objection handling is to confirm a resolution,” Nagel says. “You can just ask straight up: ‘Anything left unaddressed, Mr. Customer? Ms. Customer? Did I miss the mark on anything?’

Objection Handling Tip #10: Let Your Prospects Speak

Few things are more awkward on sales calls than the lingering silence of dead air, especially following a firm objection.

As tempting as it may be to fill those silences by speaking, Nagel recommends resisting that urge and giving your prospects more time to speak instead. Doing so can create valuable learning opportunities, because prospects are more likely to elaborate on their real problem or concern if given the chance.

Bar graph showing how better sales people listen to prospects more than average salespeople

“As salespeople, as soon as our customer gives us an objection, we want to answer, we want to give a rebuttal,” Nagel says. “We have our battle cards ready for anything that they throw at us. Use pauses. Use silence to your advantage. Get your customer to speak. Just taking [a few] seconds to understand what our buyers mean, typically, they’ll continue to share more information.”

Objection Handling Tip #11: Be Respectful

In their desire to get buyers to commit to a specific course of action, many salespeople will present prospects with specific choices to eliminate ambiguity and increase the likelihood of a successful next step. Doing so, however, can be overbearing, especially if you’ve only just managed to put your prospect’s mind at ease.

Just as Nagel recommends confirming a specific resolution when handling sales objections, he suggests doing so in a way that clearly communicates respect for the buyer’s time and invites conversation.

“A great way of providing guidance and a resolution is to ask for permission,” Nagel says. “Don’t just come in and say, ‘Hey, let’s do this, let’s do that.’ That’s not always the answer. Allowing them to say yes or no, allowing permission to make a professional recommendation or suggestion, is perceived significantly warmer by a prospect than just going in with the solution and assuming.”

Objection Handling Tip #12: Use Social Proof

Few tools in a salesperson’s toolkit are as persuasive as success stories from prospects’ competitors, and leaning into this kind of social proof can be highly effective. 

Being able to highlight the gains made by competing businesses requires an intimate understanding of the market or vertical, which is why Nagel recommends that salespeople be as diligent as possible in their prospecting research.

“You need to know case studies of your business, of companies similar to the prospect you’re talking to — size, industry, revenue, you name it — and you need to be able to bring these up on the call,” Nagel says. “The most powerful selling technique we have is not us saying it, but our customers saying it. Social proof and validation are extremely powerful.”

Genuine Interest Helps You Win Deals

There’s a common thread that runs through the principles and examples mentioned above: The importance of showing a genuine interest in prospective customers.

Active listening allows reps to identify the exact nature of prospect objections, and provide laser-targeted solutions for those issues. This process also earns the trust of prospects and makes them more likely to take a bet on your product or service.

The final step is to provide your reps with the information they need to engage with potential buyers. ZoomInfo offers the best-in-class solution for arming sellers with the data they need, from company and contact information to conversation intelligence, buying signals, intent data, and more. 

Sign up for a free trial today to try it for yourself.