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6 Steps for Overcoming Objections in Software Sales



Most software sales professionals are probably familiar with objections, whether they’re an inside sales representative on the phones or an executive account manager for an entire region. Most prospective clients you speak to will have objections about the SaaS you represent, for the simple reason that if they didn’t...they would already be a customer.


Price, value, and relevance to a client’s particular situation are usually the biggest source of sales objections. Successful sales reps become expert at the process of objection handling. They respond to challenges from a potential client that addresses their concerns or opens their eyes to a more relevant point, ultimately changing their mind in favor of a sale.


Handling objections is a process, and here are its 6 steps:


  1. Listen actively and internalize the objection.

  2. Repeat and validate the concern.

  3. Ask follow up questions.

  4. Respond to the objection and use social proof.

  5. Confirm you’ve addressed their objection.

  6. Anticipate objections with research.


Some sales reps take an aggressive approach and steamroll over the potential client’s objections. Unfortunately, this method can really backfire, eliminate trust, and fortify the resolve of the one making the objections. A better approach is to help clients come to a conclusion of their own accord with a more conversational process.


Objections that are left unaddressed can pose serious problems when a software sales rep is trying to close a deal. A potential client can circle back to these unresolved issues, drawing out or even derailing the processes of sealing the deal. That’s why it’s good to periodically check in with your client. Do you have questions about this? Do you have any obstacles to buying our product? However you phrase it, competent and confident salespeople are not afraid to draw objections out into the open so they can be dealt with.


Listen actively and internalize the objection.


Active listening skills do not come naturally to most people, but it’s a necessary skill to succeed in software sales (or any type of sales). You may be tempted to address their objection right away. Step back (figuratively) and listen to objections to understand where the client is coming from. Give them space to vent all their concerns so you can address them thoroughly.


Repeat and validate the concern.


Repeat back what you heard, both to make sure you understood the objection correctly, and to build trust with your potential client by making them feel like their position is valued. Instead of dismissing their concerns, empathize with their feelings, without turning them into facts. They may feel concerned about implementing a new SaaS, but the fact of the matter is that you have a stellar sales engineer to make sure the product is a perfect fit.


Ask follow up questions.


Once a potential client has voiced their objection, draw out all its facets for discussion so that they don’t come back to bite you later. Asking open-ended questions helps the conversation keep going in a natural way. It evolves as a discussion instead of a game of tennis. Asking questions that elicit detailed responses can also give you more information about how to move the conversation in the right direction, perhaps uncovering some points you did not yet see.


Respond to the objection and use social proof.


Once your active listening, empathy, and follow up open-ended questions have drawn out the objection, it’s time to respond. The more you know your product, the market, and the potential client, the easier it will be to address—not deflect—their objections. Sometimes you can share what happened to a client who once had similar objections and went on to use your SaaS successfully. Whatever you do, avoid long-winded responses, don’t lie, and don’t wing it. If you need to look something up, do it; hasty or dishonest answers can definitely undermine trust.


Confirm you’ve addressed their objection.


Once you’ve addressed their objection, confirm it—and really confirm it. Sometimes a lukewarm yes is given just to satisfy you in the moment, but later the client will ponder over their objections. Make sure you have satisfied all of their concerns and if they need any more explanations. You might be tempted to rush on with the sales process once the objection is addressed, but take that extra time. Your potential client will appreciate the care, and you’ll appreciate that objections won’t come back to haunt you.


Anticipate objections with research.


Of course, one of the best ways to deal with objections is to know your product, the market, and the client really well. Stay on your A game even when you’re not selling. The more you know about the general climate of software, tech, and the specific industry you’re dealing with, the better equipped you will be to confidently address concerns as they come up. This does not mean you should share potential objections your client might have before they share them; let them verbalize those objections themselves. The most effective sales processes always involve a client participating in the discussion.


A final word about overcoming objections in software sales...


Software sales is a fairly competitive game, with hundreds of big name players, and tens of thousands of smaller names—and more developing every year. With so many choices of an SaaS, even within specific industries, a discussion-based sales process that deals with client objections has become more important than ever.


If you’re a sales manager or VP, you want to have competent, confident, and hardworking software sales professionals on your team. It can be hard to find qualified candidates who really understand this process and can implement it with regards to your specific SaaS. I have several decades of experience in software sales, and I know how to read between the lines of a resume and screen candidates to see what skills—like objective handling—are really present.


On the other hand, if you’re a sales professional who has really mastered this process or is in the process of learning how (it’s always a work in progress), you are probably ambitious enough about software sales to seek the best possible work situation you can. Whether you’re hiring or job seeking, send me an email at mike@michaelblair.com and let’s discuss what you need.

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