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Overcoming Live Call Objections in Sales Development

Here’s the scenario: You’ve identified a lead you want to talk to. You have crafted several thoughtful emails, left impactful voicemails, and maybe even retweeted a prospect’s latest update. Finally, FINALLY, you get the prospect live on the phone, and that’s where the trouble starts: the buyer comes in with objections.

The ability to effectively manage live calls is one of the most challenging aspects of being an sales development rep. It is also one of the most important. TOPO considers live call management 1 of 3 essential pillars for SDR success. SDRs that do this well have mastered the ability to overcome objections from the very beginning of the call (the classic, I’m busy right now, just send over some information), all the way through to close.

Sales development reps in particular, but all sales reps who prospect, encounter a myriad of objections on email responses, cold calls, and qualification calls. “I’m too busy, call back next quarter.” “Just send me some information.” “We don’t have budget outlined for this.” The list goes on.

What Objections Really Mean, and What to do About It

Here’s the thing: most objections are simply knee-jerk reactions from busy people who don’t yet see the value in working with you. Nearly all objections at the prospecting phase of the sales process can be distilled into two actual objections. Here’s what your prospects are really saying:

  1. I don’t understand the value and I’m too busy to think about it.
  2. I’m not ready for a buying conversation.

Top SDRs understand this and master the ability to overcome objections and turn them into reasons to schedule the next appointment. To overcome these two objections, the best sales development reps:

  1. Clearly articulate value early and concisely. You can mitigate the first objection, “I don’t understand and I’m too busy to think about it,” by simply respecting the prospect’s time and explaining what you want early in your outreach. Every email, voicemail, and phone interaction should lead with an expectation that you won’t take much time, followed by a short and easy-to-understand value prop. TOPO recommends developing a buyer-centric value prop that you can deliver in 30 seconds or fewer (1-2 sentences preferred). See this TOPO post for further insights on how to craft an exceptional value proposition.
  2. Internalize the idea that sales development is not selling the product, they are selling the next meeting with sales. It does not matter if the prospect is ready for a buying conversation yet. How could they be? They’ve perhaps only just learned about you and your product. When SDRs understand that they are not selling the product, they are selling the next meeting, they can turn any objection into a reason to meet.

SDR objections

Let’s try this on some real-world examples. Here are the 5 most common objections and responses to them:

The Brush-Off

Objection: Send me some information.

Best Practice: This objection varies in intent depending on when it comes up in your call with a prospect. If it comes up before you have had the chance to deliver your value prop and explain who you are and what you do, it’s very clearly a brush-off. If it comes afterward, but before you’ve had to ask the prospect qualification questions to understand their business, there may be interest, but the prospect isn’t yet willing to talk about it further. If it comes at the end of your call, after you’ve gone through both your value prop and qualification, the prospect may have decided this isn’t valuable somewhere along the way. No matter where it comes up in the call, it’s a polite brush-off, and it’s the SDR’s duty to uncover what is really going on: Do they not yet understand the value or are they not ready for a buying conversation, and why?

Response: I’d be happy to. We have a lot of information that I can send. (Before value prop): Can we take 30 seconds now for me to explain what we do and you can decide if it’s worth a follow-up? (Before qualification): Can I ask you a couple questions now to better understand how we might help? (After qualification): Typically, people find it more valuable to see how this works in a demo.

Competition

Objection: We already work with <competitor X>.

Best Practice: This is where it’s important to know why you are unique, and be able to explain that value clearly. Your prospect just heard, “Hi, we do X” and thought, “Oh, we have a vendor for that, we’re good.” Your prospects are busy, they don’t want to fix things that aren’t broken. It is your duty to change their mindset, and explain why they need the specific value you provide.

Response: At this point, we aren’t asking you to rip anything out. A lot of our customers used to or still use <competitor x>. We’d just like the opportunity to show you how we are different and how we have provided additional value to our customers. We can provide some use cases of other companies like yours who work with us and with competitor x. When is a good time to schedule a follow up call?

Procrastination

Objection: Call me back in a quarter.

Best Practices: Again, prospects are busy. They will push anything off to tomorrow because today is swamped. Don’t let them! You have a solution they needed yesterday. Comfort their concern that this is not a buying conversation. You just want to show them what you do, and see if there’s value for them.

Response: Of course. If it really is bad timing, I’m happy to. However, I would still like to set up a 5-minute call to show you what we are doing and how we might help. That way, if it’s not interesting, we don’t have to worry about me chasing you next quarter, but if it is, we have more to talk about then. When is a good day/time for us to chat?

Budget

Objection: We don’t have budget for this.

Best Practice: If budget is an important part of your qualified lead definition (e.g. traditional BANT) this may be a stopping point. Even with BANT though, it is important to dig a bit further to understand what not having budget means  Can they not afford it? Has your buyer burned through his personal budget for the year? Can your buyer find it elsewhere if you show enough value? For most SDRs, the prospect doesn’t need to have a budgeted project yet, and they should leverage that to overcome this objection.

Response: That’s okay. We don’t expect you to buy anything right now. We’d just like the opportunity to share what we are doing and see if it’s valuable to your company. Can we schedule a follow-up call over the next couple days?”

Getting in the Weeds

Objection: Does your product do X, Y, and Z?

Best Practice: This isn’t so much an objection as an obstacle to closing a call with a prospect and getting them to the next appointment, (e.g. a demo, or a discovery call with the sales rep). However, it is one of the most common obstacles that prevent an SDR from converting the lead to an SQL. Not only does getting in the weeds waste time, you also run the potential of devolving into a features/benefits conversation. The good news is, this generally means the prospect is interested. Use this to end the conversation and set up the next appointment.

Response: I am glad you asked that. I think it will be helpful to set up a time where we can answer this question and others with a specialist. When is a good day/time for us to talk?”

When No Means No

Prospects often don’t give you a chance to explain the value you think you can provide. They are too busy, and have too little faith in the hordes of SDRs and sales reps that reach out to them on a daily basis. Unfortunately, they have learned through experience that these knee-jerk objections are the best defense against people wasting your time. This forces salespeople to be more assertive and persistent.

That said, at a certain point no means no. The responses to the common objections above give you a way to pierce through the knee-jerk objections prospects give without thinking. However, once you have said your piece, and the prospect still objects, let it go. Nobody is going to buy against their will. Get as clear as you can on the objection, try to determine what your prospect is really concerned about, but don’t push past the prospect’s point of comfort. Rule of thumb: if the prospect says an objection twice, it’s real. No means no.

About the author: Bryan Gonzalez is the Sales Development Analyst at TOPO. He has helped two high-growth companies launch their SDR teams and define the role and strategy. With TOPO, he is excited to help others design, build, and optimize their own sales development organizations to accelerate their growth. He has been an SDR, he knows the grind. Follow Bryan on Twitter.

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