If you’ve seen an infomercial, you know all about trying to overcome the objections of potential customers.
- “But doesn’t this Chia Pet require constant watering?”
- “Surely I’m going to have to sharpen this Ginsu knife again and again.”
- “Are you really saying that if I’ve fallen and I can’t get up, all I need to do is press a button? That seems too easy.”
- “I just need to clap to turn the lights on? Surely there’s a switch I need to flip.”
When it comes to selling anything, there will always be objections to overcome. Customers have reservations and questions that keep them from purchasing. It’s a normal part of any shopping experience.
This is nothing new. Before David Ogilvy became an advertising legend (he was the inspiration for the show Mad Men), he earned his stripes by selling pressure cookers. He wrote about the lessons he learned in a book he titled “The Theory and Practice Of Selling The AGA Cooker” (certainly not titled with sales in mind).
In the book, he taught prospective salesmen how to overcome objections such as, “It’s too big for my kitchen,” and, “I’m only renting my present house,” both common objections in the 1930’s.
And while Ogilvy’s book may not have been a bestseller, it gives us at least two valuable insights into overcoming objects.
- You need to know the objections if you’re going to overcome them
- Once you know the objections, you can meet them head on and overcome them
These two insights are even more critical for ecommerce sellers since you’re not usually talking with customers face-to-face and hearing their objections. You need a proven strategy for unearthing potential objections and then overcoming them.
That’s where we come in. In this white paper, we’re going to show you:
- The primary types of customer objections
- How to identify the objections of your specific customers
- How to overcome those objections
What Are Customer Objections?
At the risk of stating the obvious, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding customer objections.
Customer objections are the concerns that a prospect has which cause them to hesitate (at best) and abandon (at worst) an ecommerce purchase.
People want to be sure they’re purchasing a good product. We’ve all been burned by products that seemed too good to be true. The “amazing” deal that turned out to be a dud. That trendy product that was made out of inferior materials (fidget spinners anyone?).
Maybe it was a watch that fell apart in a month despite claiming to be highly durable. Maybe it was a weight-loss program that didn’t help in the least. There are dozens of humorous articles online about people who purchased items from Amazon, only to discover that the product was not at all like it was portrayed.
It’s incidents like this that cause customers to have objections. They want to make sure the product is fairly priced, works as intended, will last, and will meet their current needs. With hundreds of years of snake oil and used car salesmen informing customer opinions, you need to be willing to meet customers where they are.
Why You Need To Understand Your Customer’s Objections
Every customer objection is friction on the path to purchasing. Most customers are risk-averse; therefore, the more objections they have, the more risk they feel when purchasing, and the less likely they are to hit that “Buy” button.
And here’s the bottom line: overcoming objections isn’t an end in itself, but is a way of ultimately increasing conversions and sales. The more you can identify and address objections, the more you’ll increase your overall conversions and the better rapport you’ll develop with your customers.
But (and this is crucial), it’s not enough to merely address generic objections, like whether you offer refunds and how much shipping costs. You need to address the specific objections of your customers.
There are objections that are unique to your customers, and these objections are tied specifically to your products and company. This is why it’s so essential to identify the things that hold back your customers and then work to address them. If you don’t, you’ll miss out on revenue. And on top of that, you want to overcome objections as early as possible in the sales process. As Leslie Ye at HubSpot notes:
“Nothing is more dangerous to a deal than letting sales objections go unaddressed until the final stages. The longer the buyer holds an opinion, the stronger that opinion usually is – and the harder you’ll have to fight to combat it.”
Identify objections, address them early on, and you’ll be on your way to increasing your profits.
How To Identify Your Unique Customer Objections
It’s easy to think that you know your customers and their objections, but unless you actively study your audience, there’s a good chance that there are dozens of objections you’re unaware of. So what are some of the different ways to study your audience?
#1 – Research
There are several ways you can research your customers to help identify the specific objections they have.
Determine Your Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS is a management tool that allows you to determine how loyal your customers are, with scores ranging from -100 (everyone is a detractor) to +100 (everyone is a promoter). It’s essentially a metric that measures your overall relationship with your customers.
NPS is typically calculated based on how customers respond to a single question: How likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?
Anything over a 9 is considered a promoter, those under 6 are considered detractors, and those between 7-8 are considered passives.
Net Promoter Score = % of Promoters – % of Detractors
After the customer responds, they are typically asked a series of open-ended survey questions to bring clarity to their answer.
These questions can include:
- How did you first hear about our company/product?
- What are the three biggest things you dislike about our products?
- How can we improve your experience?
- What features do you value the most?
- How would you describe our products to a friend?
- What are our products missing?
- What are three things that almost stopped you from using our products?
By asking these types of highly specific questions, you can get a good sense of the common objections your customers have.
Perform User Testing
User testing allows you look at your website and purchase process through the eyes of customers. As the users go through the steps of researching, selecting, and checking out, you can see the exact things that give them pause. You can see the loops they get stuck in and the common friction points.
Additionally, as the users vocalize their thoughts during the testing process, you’ll get insight into the things that confuse them. For example, you might hear a user say, “How can I see the experiences of other customers who purchased this product?” or, “Why is there no detailed information about this particular feature?”
The answer to these questions may be obvious to you, but it’s not to your potential customers. User testing allows you to understand what goes through your customer’s minds when they’re on your site.
#2 – Live Chat
If you have a live chat function on your site, you’re sitting on a gold mine when it comes to determining customer objections. You can methodically go through the chat logs and highlight the specific questions, objections, and problems that come up again and again. Then you can compile those objections and create a plan for answering them.
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#3 – Feedback Form On Your Website
When do customers typically use feedback forms? When they encounter a problem. The information that is submitted through these forms can be incredibly helpful when it comes to identifying points of friction in the sale process. Are there common problems your customers are mentioning in feedback forms? Those are objections to overcome.
#4 – Customer Service Reps
Your customer service representatives are on the front lines of customer interactions and will have a good sense of the common problems customers encounter. Tap into their experience to identify the consistent customer objections that occur. While some of what they say will certainly be anecdotal, it can give you a broad picture of what your customers feel.
#5 – Email Surveys For New Customers
New customers can provide a wealth of information since they’re not as familiar with your site as long-time buyers. Requesting feedback on their first experience, including any challenges they encountered, can illuminate problems your loyal customers don’t encounter.
#6 – Social Channels
People tend to share very positive and very negative experiences on social media platforms. Monitoring social media channels closely allows you to identify those who’ve had negative experiences and personally interact with them to discover their pain points. For those who share positive experiences, you have the opportunity to ask them specifically what made their experience so good.
#7 – Negative Brand Feedback On Third-Party Sites
Third party websites that house reviews, testimonials, recommendations, and other similar content can give you valuable insight into customers who have had negative experiences on your site. These sites also usually allow you to engage with the customer by replying to the review, asking for further clarification, and offering to fix any problems.
How To Overcome Customer Objections (Step-By-Step)
Once you’ve determined the specific objections your customers have, you can begin to address them in a systematic fashion.
Typically, objections fall into one of three categories:
- Risk – The customer is concerned that the cost of the product may not be worth the value it provides.
- Quality – The customer is concerned that the product may be low quality, and thus not provide a satisfying experience.
- Relationship – The customer is concerned that the company selling the product (in this case, you) is of questionable character and may provide poor service.
How do you overcome each of these objections?
#1 – Work To Reduce The Perceived Risk
Perceived risk is subjective and will vary from customer to customer, though there are numerous ways you can reduce the amount of risk they feel. Each of these strategies involves, in some fashion, reframing the conversation to demonstrate that the risks are minimal and the benefits significant.
In most cases, some or all of these strategies will be used in concert with each other.
- Prove that the value of the product exceeds the costs and potential risks. This should be your overarching strategy when it comes to reducing the perceived risk. You want the customer to understand that the value your product provides far exceeds and risks.Because value depends on a number of factors (quality, benefits, relation to competitor products, etc.), you need to understand the specific risks that concern them and then show how the value of your product speaks to each of their risks.
- Re-frame the cost. When a budget-conscious person looks at your product, they are primarily aware of one thing: cost. This one thing can overshadow almost everything else about your product. It’s why some people will never purchase a Honda or Toyota, despite their reputation for lasting an incredibly long time. Those vehicles cost more, and some people can’t see past the cost to the benefits.You can overcome this objection by reframing the cost in terms of the value it will bring to their life. The phrase, “You can’t put a price on your health,” is a common example of this. Yes, it may cost a lot for a medical procedure, but the value of feeling well far outweighs the cost. The same approach applies to ecommerce. Yes, your product costs a certain amount, but compared to the value it brings, it’s worth the price.
- Highlight the benefits. There’s a huge difference between highlighting the features and the benefits of your product. Features are things like the materials it’s made from, the different things it can do, etc. It slices, it dices, it makes Julienne fries. Those are features.Benefits, on the other hand, are the way the features improve the person’s life. A customer can easily see the features of a product on your site. What they can’t necessarily do is connect the dots between those features and how they will bring value to them.Your mobile phone battery case offers a 40% overall increase in battery charge. That’s a feature. This extended battery life translates in 9 hours of not needing to worry whether your battery will die. That’s a benefit. Focus on benefits over features.
- Offer A Guarantee. Few things do more to set customers at ease than a guarantee. If they know they can get their money back without any hassle, their sense of risk will be greatly reduced.Nordstrom has built their reputation on allowing returns for the entire life of their products. If you bought a backpack in 6th grade and want to return it 20 years later, they’ll let you do it. This greatly reduces the risk people feel in purchasing their products.Create a sense of urgency. This may seem counterintuitive, but creating a sense of urgency about purchasing your product can help a customer push through their feelings of risk. After all, if they’re worried that the product might be out of stock if they don’t immediately make a purchase, they may be willing to set their misgivings aside.
- Give sufficient product details. This should go without saying, but we’re going to say it nonetheless. At a minimum, you should give customers enough product details to make an informed decision. If customers have to do significant research just to determine product details, it’s unlikely you’ll make the sale.
This is why Amazon has a questions section in addition to the product specifications. It allows customers to fully understand how the product works.
#2: Make The Quality of the Product/Service More Apparent
Obviously, one of the chief concerns of every customer is the quality of your product or service. They want to know they’re making a wise purchase that will provide value over the long run. There are several simple ways to highlight the quality of what you offer.
- Highlight your service and support. By drawing attention to your outstanding customer service, you demonstrate that you’re committed to the customer beyond the sale. You genuinely want them to get value from your product, and are willing to dedicate time and resources to help them.Companies like Zappos and Trader Joe’s have built hugely loyal customer bases due to their passionate commitment to outstanding customer service. For the customer, this acts as a safety net of sorts. They know that if something goes wrong, they can easily get the problem fixed.
- Highlight abilities to customize or personalize. If your product can be customized in any way, that should be highlighted to potential customers. This gives them the assurance that the product will be exactly what they want, and to their specifications.Additionally, customization typically indicates more individual attention given to creating each product, as opposed to cranking them off an assembly line.
- Highlight values that will appeal to your customers. Depending on your product, your customers will have certain things they value particularly value. For example, if you’re selling handcrafted leather bags, your customers will probably value craftsmanship. If you’re selling electronics, speed will be a key value. Supplement buyers value the purity and organic nature of their purchases.Do whatever you can to highlight those particular values on your site and in conversations with customers. This can be instrumental in overcoming objections.
- Create high-quality supplemental content. One of the cheapest ways to overcome objections is to create high-quality, high-value supplemental content on your site that will help your customers.For example, if you sell coffee beans, an in-depth guide on how to create the perfect cup of coffee with a French Press will both serve your potential customers and demonstrate your commitment to your product.
#3 – Build Relationships and Care For Your Audience
Perhaps most importantly, you want to demonstrate that you truly care for your audience. Potential customers want to know that you’re not going to take their money and disappear. If you can build relationships with your customers, you’ll retain them for the long run and increase your Customer Lifetime Value.
Some simple ways to build relationships and care for your audience are:
- Show testimonials. Testimonials from satisfied customers demonstrate both the reliability of your product or service, and just how much you care about your customers. This goes a long way toward establishing trust with, and overcoming the objections of potential customers.Why does Amazon show the overall customer product rating immediately under the product title? Because they know that customers trust the opinions of other customers. Adding testimonials and reviews to your site can go a long way toward overcoming objections.
- Show case studies. By putting successful case studies on your site, you demonstrate that: 1) You have a history of helping customers succeed and 2) You are committed to building outstanding relationships with your clients.Case studies also help minimize the risk potential customers might feel. It shows them that numerous other customers have used your product or service successfully.
- Implement live chat on your site. Live chat can be a huge asset in terms of overcoming objections. It lets customers immediately have their questions and objections answered without the need to call. It also allows the customers to interact with your customer service team, which can go a long way toward establishing a relationship with the customer.Plus, as noted earlier, it provides you with an ongoing record of customer conversations, which can help you identify key objections.
- Create loyalty programs. There’s a reason loyalty programs have long been a staple of brick-and-mortar stores: they work. When you reward people for being loyal customers, they keep coming back, which then allows you to build a relationship with them.The more you nurture that relationship, the fewer objections they have and the more likely they are to buy from you.
See Things Through The Eyes Of Your Customers
Ultimately, overcoming objections is about seeing things through the eyes of your customers. It’s about understanding the reservations, hesitations, and questions they have, empathizing with those concerns, then seeking to overcome those objections. Overcoming the objections of your customers is key to increasing conversions and boosting revenue.
Remember, the best kind of conversion is based on trust. People who trust you are far more likely to buy from you. But as with any relationship, building trust takes time and action. By taking action to identify customer objections and then taking time to answer them, you put yourself in a position for success.
If you need help identifying your overcoming your customer objections, contact us.
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About the Author
James Sowers is the Director of The Good Ventures. He has more than a decade of experience helping software and ecommerce companies accelerate their growth and improve their customer experience.