Sales Objections in Retail: How to Overcome Pre-Purchase Concerns

Sales objections

Purchasing a new product is an emotional experience. For some shoppers, the mental battle can feel too overwhelming, causing them to exit your retail store empty handed.

By understanding the most common sales objections that your prospective customers contend with, you can personalize your sales approach. Retail associates can address their concerns and make anxious shoppers feel more confident in their decision to buy. 

Objection handling is both a science and an art. This guide shares how to blend the two, with guidance on how to handle the most common objections you’ll face in your retail store.

What are sales objections?

Sales objections are problems a customer has to overcome prior to purchasing a product. Most often, these obstacles can be price, product, or time-related. 

What is objection handling?

Objection handling is the process of helping shoppers overcome their sales objections.

If a shopper isn’t ready to purchase because they’re unsure whether it’s worth it, for example, retail sales associates will handle their objections by explaining the benefits of a product, how it impacts their daily life, and how long it’ll take to see results. 

Importance of objection handling

The greater your retail team is at handling sales objections, the higher your chances of converting shoppers into paying customers. That results in more profit for your store.

Sales objections are a natural part of the sales process, but they don't have to be a roadblock.

The ability to handle sales objections impacts customer experiences and word of mouth, too. Should your sales reps come across as pushy and demanding throughout the objection handling process, there’s a good chance that the shopper will leave the store and tell friends to avoid it. 

That one unpleasant customer experience means marketing campaigns have to counterbalance negative reviews.

Turn store traffic into sales

With Shopify’s mobile POS, you can serve customers anywhere in your store and banish lineups at the checkout counter. Use any smartphone or tablet to process returns and exchanges, accept payments, and check out customers wherever they are.

Types of sales objections in retail

  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of need
  • Lack of budget
  • Lack of urgency

We can categorize sales objections into four buckets: a lack of trust, a lack of need, a lack of budget, and a lack of urgency. Let’s take a look at how to handle each one. 

Lack of trust

Trust is multifaceted, with customers evaluating retail stores on whether they can be trusted with:

  • Credit card information
  • Personal data, such as names, email addresses, and shipping addresses
  • Achieving the results promised in a sales pitch (e.g., does this skin care product really clear up acne like its packaging says it will?)

Social proof goes a long way when building trust and overcoming this type of sales objection. Showcase how previous customers have trusted you and that their decision to do so paid off. This can pay dividends—people are willing to spend more with brands they trust.

Lack of need

People are afraid of making bad decisions. Scientists call this “decidophobia”—an irrational fear that could cause shoppers to avoid purchasing in your store, purely because they don’t want to choose the wrong thing.

This fear of decision-making often festers in a lack of commitment. If people don’t feel like they need something, delaying the decision-making process alleviates anxiety.

To help them overcome this fear, you can offer a satisfaction guarantee or return policy. You can also provide information about your product’s warranty or guarantee.

Lack of budget

Price is the single most important factor that influences customers to buy. People can’t purchase items if they don’t have the financial means to do so. This sensitive topic makes budget-related sales objections amongst the hardest to overcome. 

The key to overcoming this sales objection is to determine which category a prospect falls into:

  • They truly can’t afford it. Pushing this type of shopper toward a purchase is irresponsible. You don’t want to make someone go into debt to buy products they don’t need.
  • They have money to spend but aren’t sure whether a product is worth the price. Nudge these shoppers to overcome price objections through social proof, validating their concerns, and explaining how a product is worth the investment. 

Lack of urgency

“The most common sales objection that I come across is the lack of urgency,” says Rakhi Oswal, founder of EDRIO. “Customers tend to postpone the purchase by saying either they need to think about it or consult their significant other before purchasing the product.”

When handling this sales objection, Rakhi says, “It is essential to communicate directly with the visitor in such a situation, without being pushy. Begin your response with ‘No problem’ to put them at ease. Once they are comfortable, try to address their underlying concerns by asking questions, assessing the situation, and taking the right approach.” 

5 common sales objections

  • Is it worth the money?
  • I need to speak with my partner first
  • I’ve never heard of this before
  • We already use a competitor’s product
  • I’m too busy

Now we know the types of sales objections you’ll contend with. Here’s how retail store associates can handle the most common ones. 

“Is it worth the money?”

With price playing such an important role in purchasing decisions, expensive products often have potential customers questioning whether it’s worth the investment. 

Take PalaLeather, for example. Its products are expensive and made from high-quality leather. Founder Luke Lee says, “Leather jackets are considered luxury items because of their versatility and durability. Moreover, because they are fashion staples, they are unlikely to become out of fashion.” 

Luke adds that when customers “see how long they will be able to use the product or how much it would benefit them, the more likely they will be convinced to buy and counter their own objections.”

Alternatively, recommend a lower price product in place of the one they’re interested in. This smaller commitment acts as the hook in your sale—a way to prove your product’s value to them without asking them to risk too much of their own money.

“I need to speak with my partner first”

Often, people give this excuse when they don’t want to commit to a decision. They explain that their partner is the decision maker and that they’re unable to commit to a purchase until they’ve spoken with them. 

To overcome this objection, offer a lower-cost alternative—or even better, something free. It’s a technique used by big-box retailers like Costco. Shoppers who take free samples feel the urge to do something for you in return, like buy a product. 

Allow shoppers with this sales objection to take the free sample home. It gives them breathing room to discuss the purchase with their partner, who can experience the product without visiting your store.

“I’ve never heard of this before”

It’s impossible for people to trust brands they’ve never heard of before. If someone is visiting your retail store for the first time, there’s a good chance that this is the objection you’ll hear most frequently. 

Handle this sales objection using social proof. Back up why someone should trust you—be that testimonials from other customers, five-star ratings, or endorsements from reputable people. If you’re selling kids’ toothpaste, for example, an endorsement from a local dentist would go a long way in helping them overcome unfamiliarity and build trust. 

“We already use a competitor’s product”

Not everyone visiting your store will be brand new to the product/service you’re selling. Sometimes, people visit retail stores to browse products they’re already using, which they’ve bought from a competitor.

Again, it’s a hard objection to overcome, especially if the shopper doesn’t see the need to switch. Convert them into customers for your business by having sales reps listen to their current situation. Pitch your unique value proposition against the competitor they’re already using. 

Let’s put that into practice and say someone visiting your store is hesitant to buy your energy drinks because they’re already drinking one from a competitor. However, that competitor’s drinks are full of sugar and don’t contain the added vitamins yours does. Those two things give shoppers a concrete reason to switch, making the purchase a no-brainer. 

“I’m too busy”

Most people visiting your store don’t have the time (or patience) to listen to a sales pitch. Some 41% of shoppers who shop in-store want to make it a quick “in and out” trip, using time-related objections as an excuse to delay their purchase decision.

Guide shoppers toward overcoming that sales objection by using email carts. If store visitors show an interest in a product but don’t have time to evaluate their decision, ask for their email to send a personalized shopping cart. They’ll see the exact product at home—or when they have time to invest in their purchasing decision.

Email cart example

💡 PRO TIP: Use Shopify POS email carts to recover abandoned store sales and increase store conversions. Store staff can add items to a customer’s cart, send it to them by email, and get credit for making the sale—even if it happens online.

How to overcome objections in your store

  • Active listening
  • Ask for more information
  • Validate concerns
  • Express value
  • Use social proof
  • Anticipate objections and proactively offer solutions
  • Confirm objections are satisfied

Your store associates’ ability to handle sales objections influences how much revenue your store generates. Here are seven objection-handling techniques to ease an anxious shopper’s mind and nudge them toward a purchase.

Active listening

Active listening is a skill that shows a customer you’re listening to their concerns. Do this when handling sales objections by:

  1. Listening to their objection
  2. Responding with a solution that handles the objection they’ve expressed 

“As opposed to simply telling the customer what [they] want to hear, concentrate on being truthful and providing her with all of the facts [they] require to make an informed decision,” says Dean Lee, head of marketing at Sealions.

“It is possible to make the sales process easier by being honest and direct. This minimizes the need to hard sell, and allows the discussion to transition to a more conversational tone. If the friendship continues in this manner, it will also lay the groundwork for a wonderful client relationship.” 

Ask for more information

The more you know about a prospect’s objection, the more personalized you can make your sales approach. Open-ended questions work wonders here. 

If a shopper has told you they already use a competitor’s product, for example, don’t cut the conversation short with a question like, “Would you be open to switching?” Instead, ask them to elaborate on their objection by asking, “What is it about the competitor’s product that’s making you hesitant to switch?” 

That question prompts the prospect to say that a competitor gives them bulk discounts when buying more than five units at once. Address that in your response by explaining that your store offers the same discount—with extra bonuses if you join the store’s customer loyalty program

📌 GET STARTED: Choose from hundreds of loyalty apps in the Shopify App Store and start rewarding shoppers for purchases they make both online and in-store.

Validate concerns

It’s easy to brush off a prospect’s concerns and go in with the hard sell. But sales objections are psychological. What might seem like a small issue to you is a sticking point for customers.

Use your active listening skills to validate a shopper’s pain point in your response. If a prospect needs to speak with their partner first, explain how you felt the same when buying a purchase. If trust in your brand is an issue, tell them other customers felt the same way and went on to become die-hard fans of your product.

Build trust by being transparent and honest about your products or services. Let shoppers know what they're getting for their money, and be upfront about any potential risks or drawbacks.

Express value

A value proposition is the core reason someone would purchase your product over a competitor’s. It’s especially useful to shout about when handling price- or competitor-related sales objections. 

Let’s put that into practice and say a prospect isn’t sure whether your hairdryer is worth the investment. Your store associate tells them how it has three heating/cooling settings, comes with a heat resistant mat, and is 20% quieter than other hair dryers on the market. The value of your product is obvious, making the price-related objection easier for a shopper to overcome.

To truly tempt shoppers with an urgency-related objection, create a sense of urgency in your response. Give them a limited time offer that expires two days after leaving the store. It gives them a reason to invest time into the purchasing decision sooner, rather than later (when the offer expires).

💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify POS, you can create dollar or percentage discounts that get automatically applied to individual items or entire carts at checkout. Once you set up an automatic discount, it works for both online and in-store purchases.

Use social proof

Social proof shows on-the-fence shoppers that other people believe they’ve made the right decision when purchasing products from your store. 

Studies show that just 5% of a group influences the crowd. Find your store’s 5%—the die-hard brand evangelists that love the products you sell—and use their experiences to share the following types of user-generated content with uneasy shoppers:

Anticipate objections and proactively offer solutions

Over time, you’ll begin to notice the most common sales objections shoppers have when visiting your retail store. Anticipate these objections and proactively offer solutions before shoppers have the chance to express their concerns. It’ll make them feel more understood.

In the case of Sprecher Brewing Company, its director of communications, Tim Cigelske, found that people want variety. Customers typically sample different flavors before committing to a bigger pack of its craft beers.

“When we encounter this with customers, we encourage them to try our combo packs or mix and match on their own in our store,” Tim says. “For that reason, we may have someone try our new maple syrup root beer, and then, if they like it, come back and get a case.”

Confirm objections are satisfied

To wrap up the sales conversation, ask your potential buyer if their objection has been satisfied. 

If a lack of need is causing friction in the buying process and you’ve shown how previous customers changed their life after buying your workout equipment, close the conversation with a follow-up question like, “Does that explain why our treadmills often sell out within days?”

Don’t be disheartened if shoppers don’t convert after you’ve addressed their sales objections. Some obstacles are deeply rooted in their way of thinking, making it difficult for even the best sales professionals to convince anxious shoppers that they should purchase. 

Collect information from these shoppers and log it in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that syncs with your POS software

💡 PRO TIP: Sending digital receipts via email is a great way to organically collect customer contact information at checkout and build an email list to fuel your retention marketing. Just make sure they’ve opted in to hearing from you before sending them anything.

Use Shopify Email to follow up with shoppers who exit the store without purchasing. Relay their objection and solution back to them. It’ll give them extra time to think through the decision and ease their objection, without the pressure of being in a sales environment.

Shopify Email example

Overcome objections and sell more at your store

From a lack of urgency to little trust, there are a wide range of sales objections that your retail store associates need to help shoppers overcome. 

They’re tricky conversations to have, especially if their objection is a sensitive subject—like lack of budget. The key is to make prospects feel comfortable. Address their objection, provide social proof, and validate their concerns. You’ll soon start to see shoppers relax and be more open to purchasing.

Grow store sales with Shopify POS

Shopify POS has all the tools to help you convert more store visits into sales and grow revenue. Make more relevant product recommendations, turn abandoned store sales into online sales, and track both store and staff performance from one easy-to-understand back office.

Sales objections FAQ

What are the 5 major objections in sales?

  1. Is it worth the money: The customer believes the price is too high
  2. Is it worth the risk: The customer doubts the safety, security, or other risks associated with the product or service
  3. Is it worth the Energy: The customer believes the process of obtaining the product or service is too complicated
  4. Is it worth the wait: The customer believes the product or service will take too long to deliver
  5. Can I trust the quality: The customer doubts the quality of the product or service

What are the 4 types of objections?

  • Lack of Trust: The customer does not trust the seller or the product or service
  • Lack of Need: The customer does not believe they need the product or service
  • Price: The customer feels the price of the product or service is too high
  • Time: The customer believes the product or service will take too long to deliver