Rebuttals in sales calls are no fun. On every cold call, Businees Development Associates compete against a well-established stereotype: pushy, annoying sales reps who always seem to ring at the worst possible time. This widely held view of telemarketers is an injustice to skilled and professional BDAs everywhere, but it’s often the reality of cold calling.
It’s also a dynamic that makes many prospects dismissive or defensive on the phone. It doesn’t help that more and more people prefer to text rather than talk for personal communication, according to Gallup.
On top of that, buyers are more informed than ever, and don’t need to rely on sales people to find products or services. All of these factors lead to prospects who will say anything to get off the phone and end a cold call. We outlined some points to help navigate the common objections to cold calls, and turn it into an opportunity to help your prospects.
Why Prospects Object
Objections during initial outreach come across in a few different ways. Prospects pull away, try to get off the phone, or cite an obstacle that would prevent them from committing to a next meeting. The intention of a cold call is to “hook” new prospects with a message. Make it just interesting enough for them to schedule a follow-up meeting and continue the conversation.
This doesn’t happen by accident, or dialing without intelligence on the prospect or their company. BDAs have to be prepared and know something about the company or prospect before getting on the phone. Most importantly, at this point, the focus is on showing the value of committing further time, not the value of the product or service.
Many sellers neglect this point and provide details about the product or service in the first interaction. A common strategy among sellers is to fit as much description into a short window of time as possible. The hope is that with more attractive client names, success metrics and benefits squeezed in, SOMETHING will hit home with the prospect. The truth is that most prospects identify the first few words as a “sales pitch” and tune out completely.
The Alternative: Embrace the Objection
A successful member of my team once told me, “Before each dial, I’m expecting an objection – so I prepare for it.”
But what should you do when the prospect immediately asks, “What is this about? Is this a sales call?” My high-performing colleague viewed this situation differently than most – he actually loves when a prospect demands the reason for a call. He told me, “Sure the prospect is skeptical, but they’re engaged enough to listen.”
This might be a revelation for most: by anticipating an objection and equipping yourself with relevant information to respond, you can turn an objection into a possibility. “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet,” said Bobby Unser, three-time Indy 500 Winner.
Prospecting isn’t a Nascar race but, BDAs can only control so much. By asking, “What is this about?” the prospect is actually paying attention, and putting the ball in our court. If you take a moment to think about WHY you are calling each prospect before picking up the phone, you will never be rattled.
The prospect is probably in the middle of a project or task and caught off guard. But they want to understand why you’re calling, so get straight to the point. Then ask a question that directly relates to the reason for my call.
Behavioral psychologists have found that the human mind lights up when a person hears something about themselves. Your pitch might have some decent points about the value you can provide, but it’s falling on deaf ears if it’s not personalized for the prospect.
In the face of the stereotypical telemarketer, many potential buyers screen out sales calls just to survive their day. Your message isn’t getting to them unless it speaks to something they care about from their environment.
Responding to Objections
Sometimes the worst objections are not even outright rejections, but are expressed through an aggressive or resistant tone. An irritated, “What’s this about?” or, “Is this a sales call?” are familiar to any seller who has spent time proactively reaching out to prospects by phone.
Being concise is key, but so is immediately bringing up something about that prospect and connecting it to the reason for the call. Often, a call like that lasts 10 minutes and ends with a scheduled call later that week. When they say they don’t have time, it’s usually a gut reaction to the many sellers reaching out to them.”
As for answering, “Is this a sales call?” Stay composed and address the prospect’s reaction before sharing the reason for the call. Then relate it to something the prospect cares about. You can also acknowledge the objection. Say something like “I would never try to sell you on a two-minute call. But I had an idea about why [trend] might be relevant to some priorities of yours.”
You could also say, “I know you must be busy and get a lot of these calls, but I noticed…” and reference a bit of research you have done on the prospect. Keep in mind that this approach WILL NOT WORK if you have not effectively prepared for the call beforehand!
These tips are also a great reminder of the value of a good sales culture that encourages collaboration and discussion between BDAs. The approaches shared with me by colleagues and team members have served me well through years of cold calling and objection handling. By incorporating these steps into your cold calls, you can develop a greater level of comfort responding to common sales objections. And help dispel the pushy telemarketer stereotype, one dial at a time.
Editor's note: This post has been updated for clarity and relevance.
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