Competitive Enablement Maturity Model:
A Roadmap to Accelerate your Competitive Program
Spend some time with sales reps and you’ll quickly learn the objection handling tips they use on a daily basis.
Between cold outreach, prospecting, and negotiating competitive deals, reps hear a lot of reasons why a buyer is hesitant to pull the trigger.
Handling and overcoming objections never gets easy. But with experience, it definitely gets easier.
In part because you start to accumulate some powerful objection handling techniques.
Give yourself a head start and check out these 10 essential objection handling tips from the experts.
Not all objections are created equal. It can be easy to simply dismiss an objection that seems outrageous — especially if you’ve heard it a million times before.
But not taking an objection seriously is a serious mistake.
You’re there to solve the buyer’s problem. Before you get there, the buyer has to trust you understand their problem in the first place.
If you completely dismiss an objection — no mater how illegitimate you deem the objection to be — you won’t build the trust and connection essential to closing the deal.
Instead, you need to address every single objection with the appropriate objection handling approach, which we’ll get into in objection handling tip #3.
Objection Handling tip #2: Get All Buyer Objections on the Table and Prioritize Them
Features, features, features.
For competitive sellers in B2B SaaS, prospects and buyers obsessing about your product’s (and your competitors’) features can feel like a broken record.
Regardless, objection handling when it comes to features can be very challenging. If your competitor has a feature and you do not, it’s a point in their column even if that feature is just window dressing.
That’s why you as a seller need to dig deeper and understand what the buyer’s ultimate goals are, so you can redirect their focus to how your product solves those goals, with or without the feature they’ve decided to focus on.
Like Klue AE Jacob Gebrewold says, “We can help them understand their goals, and that they can be accomplished in lots of ways…I’ve got to ask the ‘why’ behind the goal and stack rank that against other priorities they have in the evaluation.”
Helping the buyer better understand their own goals — and their relative importance — opens the door for you to solve their initial problems.
And gives you a chance to divert their attention away from competitors’ features and on to what your product offers.
Objection Handling tip #3: Classify the Objections and Match Them to the Right Approach
Did we mention that not all objections are created equal?
Some claims made by the buyer or your competitors are blatantly untrue. Some are not true but used to be true. Others are a version of the truth. And some are the straight facts.
That’s why your approach to handling these claims will vary.
Start by assessing an objection and put it into one of two buckets: True or Not True.
Now, you’re in the right position to decide which approach you should use when handling these objections.
Find out which claims you should Address head-on, Reframe the context, or Redirect to something else on our ARR of Objection Handling in Sales article.
Objection Handling Tip #4: Ask Open-Ended Questions
Selling boils down to establishing a connection, unearthing the buyer’s true goals, and then proving that your solution better meets their goals.
You won’t be able to do any of that if you’re asking closed questions that don’t open-up your conversations.
Get in the habit of only asking open-ended questions — ones that can’t be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
When you start your questions with ‘how’, ‘what’, and, ‘why’ — and not ‘is’, ‘will’, and ‘would’ — you’ll begin to notice more thoughtful and elaborative answers coming from the buyer.
Like best-selling author and expert seller Anthony Iannarino said at the 2021 Competitive Enablement Summit, “The person who teaches [the buyer] to make the decision is the person they’re most likely to buy from.”
And if Socrates has taught us anything, asking thought-provoking questions is the best way to teach.
Objection Handling Tip #5: Target Accounts That Already Use Your Competitors
One of the biggest myths in competitive selling is that targeting accounts already using your competitors is a bad thing.
When you think about it, these are some of the best accounts to us.
That’s because the buyer has already made the leap and decided they needed a solution for the problems that your company is also solving.
Presumably, your competitor’s sales reps have already had to handle and overcome the most daunting objectives.
Convincing a buyer — and their bosses and bosses’ bosses — to make a big change and adding a new program or app to their tech stack is no joke.
Now you can use this momentum and the buyer’s experience (good or bad) with their existing vendor to your advantage in an effort to get them to rip and replace.
“Going after competition is actually a great thing because they’ve already opened up the doors on why they should make a change, and why they should spend,” said PatientPop’s VP of Inside Sales KD at the Competitive Enablement Summit.
Even your competitors have good sales reps. So let them do some of the objection handling work!
Objection Handling Tip #6: Prep the Buyer on How to Talk to Your Competition
You should be prospecting and going into deals assuming the buyer is already talking to your competition.
And since there’s so much readily available information these days, you should also assume the buyer is informed and educated about your product or service.
(Moreover, you can assume competitor’s account executive is motivated to sell and on the ball as well — considering the best performing account executives in recent years can expect to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in commission.)
Instead of pretending this isn’t the case, get in the habit of educating your buyer on the kinds of questions they should be asking your competition.
You know what your competitive differentiators are, so craft 4-5 questions that expose your competitor’s weaknesses. For example:
If you set the buyer up to ask questions that will put competitors on their heels, you begin to widen the gap between where you crush your competitors, and where they fall behind.
Objection Handling Tip #7: Use Objective Third-Party Data as Proof Points (But Don’t Overdo It)
Reliable third-party data from respected analysts, experts, and news sources will always be the gold standard of evidence.
As such, you should be using this data as proof points to support your claims.
But there’s a catch.
Your buyers’ eyes will start to glaze over if you unleash an onslaught of facts. Especially when the facts are already well-known and widely-accepted.
Therefore you need to complement these kinds of external proof points with internal ones as well.
Customer case studies and testimonials can be just as effective as statistical data when objection handling.
For Erin Neal, Account Executive at Klue, “Stats are always really good secondary information. But not everyone has success with stats as proof-points. So stats are fine, but you shouldn’t use them as the only truth.”
Make sure you’re doing your homework and tracking down relevant stats about your prospect, about your competition and about industry benchmarks and standards. They will probably come in handy.
But if you rely only on stats, you might win heads, but you won’t win hearts. Or very many deals.
When the competition heats up, it’s normal to find yourself getting a little heated as well.
But the absolute worst thing you can do when objection handling is to get flustered.
Yes, your competitors will lie about your company. Yes, it can be frustrating to have to overcome objections based on those lies.
But don’t take the bait.
Instead, stay focused on your product or service does well.
You can even take the opportunity to show a lighter side by laughing off a ridiculous claim, and then calmly redirecting your prospect back to value you offer.
Better yet, a well-timed compliment about your competitor can show that you’re an honest, reasonable person.
And most buyers prefer to do business with honest, reasonable people.
If you don’t know for certain, you definitely have a good idea of what your competitors are saying about you.
Take that info and use it to build the ultimate Competitive Objection Handling Battlecard.
We recommend starting with your top competitor since they are the ones taking up most of your attention.
What’s more, once you build out a strong battlecard for your top competitor, you can use the content to branch out and build objection handling battlecards for your secondary and tertiary competitors.
To start, listen to 10 sales calls where your top competitor is in on the deal.
Take note verbatim of the objections that arise.
After 10 calls, you’ll begin to see which objections are the most common, and those giving your reps the most difficulty.
Dive into our Objection Handling Techniques article for how you can set yourself up for objection handling battlecard success.
Objection Handling tip #10: Use Klue’s Formula for Your Battlecard
Yes, it is true — we have the best sales battlecards. But you can too!
When it comes to building an objection handling sales battlecard, you’ll want to make sure there are three main elements:
Depending on how experienced or not your reps are, you’ll need to decide how prescriptive you want to be.
You may want to include go-to phrases that can be used in conversation. But doing this increases the risk that a seller will come across inauthentic — regurgitating words on a paper.
The good news is, following this simple formula allows you to customize the content within the three steps as much as you want to best serve your team.
And, mostly importantly, win more deals.
Competitive Intelligence falls short in delivering actionable insights to the organization. Competitive Enablement fills that gap.Ben Ronald
DoubleCheck Research CEO and Win-Loss expert Ryan Sorely breaks down how to nail your next win-loss interview and make your program a success.Ryan Sorley
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