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The Contractor’s Guide to Handling Objections

By The Profit Guys

Contractors and builders regularly face challenges and objections in various ways and situations, including everything from negotiating contracts to price, service, and performance-related issues.  Seeking consensus for a win-win outcome can build trust and respect and become the difference between success and failure.

The ability to handle objections is a critical professional attribute for success. When an objection is clearly defined, it often leads to finding common ground for a win-win outcome and addressing the objection can often lead to providing additional value. In fact, handling objections often gains trust and respect for the project.

In the commercial construction world, objections are plentiful. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Price – Customers claim that their main reason for not buying your products or services is the price. “Your price is not competitive.”
  • Lack of Need – The buyer does not see any need for your service or product. For example, “The job doesn’t warrant the type of service or quality of materials that your firm offers.”
  • Not the Right Time – The buyer states that they may buy, but not at this time. e., “I need to think about it because I’m not ready to give you an order.” 
  • Questioning the Source – The prospect has concerns about the seller or the seller’s company. For example, “I’m not happy with the service I’ve received from your company.”
  • Satisfied – When the customer is happy with their existing subcontractor and isn’t motivated to try a new subcontractor. “We’re happy with our current approach, and we’ve worked out all the issues with our current subcontractor.”
  • Pushback – In this objection, the buyer puts off or postpones any opportunity to talk or meet. “No need for us to review your proposal – just email your quote to me.”

Or, worst of all, instead of objections, you get no response or feedback. So, it’s time to find ways to make contact and engage with the customer.

When you see this kind of list, you may be reminded of just how often you hear these objections. However, some objections are disguises for their real need or concern, while others can be addressed with one or two simple modifications in your approach. In sales, we often talk about a 10-step process. This approach to handling objections often allows the sales team to evaluate objections without emotion and develop responses to keep the sales process moving.

Handling Objections – The 10-Step Process

  1. Keep Calm – Don’t get flustered or impatient. Don’t take objections personally and maintain an interested but neutral position<
  1. Acknowledge the Objection – Repeat what you heard to demonstrate that you have considered their objection. Repeating it back to them shows you’re on their side and trying to solve issues.
  1. Probe By Asking Questions – Open-ended questions are required and should help to uncover the real concerns. Avoid yes or no questions such as, “Did you consider switching?” Instead, ask, “What other options have you considered? How can we help you value engineer this project? When do you need to finalize the scope and pricing on this job? Other than price, what are the major elements of your buying decision?” 
  1. Listen Carefully – Listen to understand by being an active and engaged listener. Active and engaged listeners don’t interrupt. Instead, they allow the speaker to finish and leave a moment of silence between the end of their statement and the beginning of yours. Active listeners also lean towards the speaker. They nod in agreement, smile in acknowledgment, or frown with concern. Confirmation words such as “yes,” “I see,” or “uh-huh” are helpful. Nodding is also a way to encourage them to keep talking. Overall, it’s your body language and facial expressions that are engaged and responsive, and your statements are kept to a minimum to encourage them to continue talking.
  1. Refine and Clarify – When it is your turn to talk, start by isolating the objection to determine if it is genuine. An example might be, “I hear you saying that we’re too expensive. So, let’s see if we can find an amicable and fair price/value relationship on this project. How does that sound?”
  1. Restate – Repeat their concerns  back to them for clarity and understanding. For example, “You’re saying that price is a real concern, and you’d buy/sub from almost anyone if they offered a more affordable price.”
  2. Answer – Once you’ve clarified and defined the issue, it’s time to outweigh the objection by emphasizing the benefits of your offer. For example, “We can’t offer the lowest price because we only use licensed, certified subcontractors. Some firms save money by using unlicensed labor, but we believe that is too risky for our business and our clients. If an unlicensed worker is hurt on your property, there is a good chance that you’d be legally liable for those injuries.” 
  1. Confirm – Now it’s time to gain consensus that you’ve appropriately addressed the objection. “So, you agree that you need licensed subcontractors on your site, but you’re still concerned about costs. While you said you’d take a lower estimate from anyone, we’ve figured out that you can’t do that if it results in liability issues. Is that right?” 
  1. Close It Out – Seek agreement on the next steps, which may entail entering an order or seeking out additional information if needed. A sample response is, “I hear that you need to keep costs down, but you also need insured and licensed professionals on your job site. So, I’m going to review this estimate with my team and think about ways we can make this job more cost-efficient without sacrificing quality or the job schedule.”
  1. Summarize – As you get ready to end the discussion, take a moment to repeat back all the objectives you heard during the meeting and quickly recap the ways you’re determined to exceed the customers’ expectations on service, schedule, and price. An example might be, “I’ve heard that you need to come in on budget, and that’s a big concern for you. You need qualified, licensed workers on your site, but you simply can’t pay top dollar. My job is to find ways to bring this job in within budget without sacrificing quality, the integrity or the build, or the safety of the worksite.”


Put this 10-Step Process to Work!

Many seasoned salespeople have internalized the 10-step process in ways that make it automatic. But if you’re new to the 10 steps, it pays to practice. Find a co-worker or friend who can role play with you and ask them to challenge you with the most common objections. Work through the 10 steps repeatedly until they become second nature. Some salespeople put them on a business card and keep it in front of them as a reminder. This is easy to do on phone calls but trickier in person, so only use prompts as a last resort.

Once you practice and get comfortable with the steps, you’ll have the skills to handle a range of objections calmly, convincingly, and professionally. Successfully handling objections is an attribute that is required for any successful sales and management personnel.  Additionally, learning and applying these skills consistently will put your company on the path to reaching its full potential.

Metro Interior Distributors is here to help, assist, and support you and your business with all your building materials needs. Contact us today, and let’s start talking about your next building project.