Guide to Cold Call Objection Handling

18 minutes

Guide to Cold Call Objection Handling

So you've decided to hit the phones and fill your pipeline. Before going in, you did a bit of research and learned how to build a cold call script but then noticed that your prospects kept objecting.

They claimed they weren't interested, your solution was too expensive or asked for you to call them back later. These objections are extremely common and should rarely be considered a hard 'no' to what you're selling.

Objection handling is a natural part of the sales process and something you should expect to encounter on every single cold call. In this article, we're going to run through the most common cold call objections and exactly how to handle them so that you set more appointments and close more deals.

Be a Prospect

Before diving in, put yourself in the shoes of a prospect.

  1. The prospect has no idea who you are and were not expecting your call
  2. The prospect is likely to be a decision-maker and gets sold to multiple times a week
  3. You will sound like a salesperson
  4. The prospect does not like being sold to

Cold calling is intrusive - you're a stranger interrupting someone's day.

So, if you were a prospect, what would you say? The most common objection you'll run into is...

"I'm not interested"

But the reality is that you're not interested in what they have to say... you don't even know what they're going to say. You're simply not interested in being on the phone and being sold to by a stranger.

So remember this: on a cold call, prospects are rarely objecting to your product or service. They're objecting to being on the phone.

Remember Why You're Calling

Cold calls aren't easy and can be draining which is why we don't recommend calling for more than 2 hours continuously. You need to be resilient and passionate about the solution you're offering. Without this, you'll crumble with an empty pipeline and no commission or revenue.

So be realistic and remember your goals and why you're cold-calling in the first place.

  1. It costs you nothing but time.
  2. It's the only way for you to get in front of 100+ potential customers a day and control the conversation right away.
  3. You're hunting down the portion of your market that can actually benefit from your service.

The Common Objections

The common objections you're going to experience on a cold call include:

  1. "I'm not interested"
  2. "I'm busy, can you call me back later?"
  3. "Can you send me an email"
  4. "We're not ready, can you call me in 6 months?"
  5. "It's too expensive"
  6. "We don't have a budget"
  7. "Can you offer me a free trial"
  8. "We tried it before and it didn't work"
  9. "My friend/family member already does this for me"

Before we get into the individual objections, I want to walk you through the best practices when it comes to dealing with any objection.

First of all, don't argue or object to their objection. Prospects don't want to argue and butt heads with a stranger. Furthermore, nobody likes being told they're wrong so you don't want to disagree to early on in the sales process.

Second, never say 'no'. Instead, acknowledge the objection and lean into it - agree, then ask a question. A big reason for this is most prospects are used to objecting and then facing a salesperson who just gives up. 

I'm not interested

Our absolute favourite because it's the most common objection and the easiest to handle. Typically after your pitch, you'll hear "I'm not interested."

Of course they're not interested. Even if you called and said, "Hey Tom, I want to give you $1 million dollars cash. What's your PayPal so I can send it through?" you'll still hear "I'm not interested."

Why? First, people don't like talking to strangers. It's a mentality that has been ingrained in you since you were a child from when your mum would tell you not to talk to strangers. Secondly, nobody likes being sold to.

No matter how amazing your big claim might be, the natural response is to try and get out of the call.

But you need to remember that these are cold prospects. An interested lead would have already reached out to you and you wouldn't be having a conversation. Somebody interested would have already solved their problem and not be a part of your list. You need to tell them this.

So here's how you handle the objection:

Prospect: "Sorry, I'm not interested"
You: "Yeah, <prospect name> I can understand why you're not interested. I didn't expect you to be otherwise you would have called me instead... I definitely haven't given you enough information to be interested. So let me ask you this, <variation of big claim>?"

What we did was acknowledge what they said, leaned into it and reframed the value proposition we have on offer. We didn't brush it off or give up and lose the prospect. The idea is to pivot away from the objection and go into another variation of the offer and what you're asking for.

I'm busy right now, can you call me back later?

The reality of the situation here is that if a prospect was actually busy, they wouldn't have picked up the phone. When you hear this, it's typically a prospect trying to get out of the call. 99 times out of 100, if you jump off the call and try to connect with them again, you're going to be unsuccessful.

Sometimes it is very genuine and you can hear it in their voice. In situations like these, it's important to pay attention to their cadence and tonality to figure out how to handle their objection.

Here are a few examples.

Prospect: "I'm busy right now, can you give me a call back later?"
You: "Yeah I can understand you're very busy and that's exactly why I'm calling. You probably don't have enough time to focus on other areas of your business like ensuring your sales team have enough appointments booked in your calendar. So when would be a good time for you to set aside 35 seconds for me to help solve your problems?"


You: "I definitely can <prospect name>. When is the best time to have a chat? Are you free this afternoon?"

From there, actually secure the time. Here are two things you can say:

You: "Beautiful! 4 pm sounds perfect. My email is <email> could you send through an invite now and I'll accept it now? I definitely don't want to miss the call and waste your time."
You: "Beautiful! Are you in front of a computer now? I've just sent through an invite to your email. Could you please accept it so I can be sure you got it and not disrupt your afternoon?"

It can come across as pushy but the reality is that this objection is most likely to lead to lost prospects if not handled appropriately. 

Unlike the other ways to handle objections, it's important not to go in and pitch your solution again. You need to be respectful of their time. If you find that the prospect isn't co-operating with another time for the call, chances are that you should try a different channel (like email or LinkedIn) to warm them up before trying to call again.

Can you send me an email/proposal/quote?

If this pops up early in a call, it's likely to be an objection and not genuine interest in moving forward. Here's how you can deal with it.

Prospect: "Could you send me an email and I'll get back to you?"
You: "Excellent, I'd be more than happy to. I just need you to answer one question for me real quick otherwise whatever I send is going to be a waste of your time. What is the biggest <type of problem your business solves> problem that you have right now that you wish you could fix with a magic wand?"


You: "I sure can but here's the thing, we don't send out generic emails and proposals as we don't have a cookie-cutter approach to anything we do here. I'll need you to answer a few questions so that I can put together something actually worth your time..."


You: "I sure can <prospect's name>, I get that question a lot. So let me ask you this... are you actually interested in <big claim>? Because I really don't want to waste your time..."

Although the last example can seem antagonistic, it can sometimes be the best option. The reason for this is that there are only two answers to that question.

  1. "Yes, I'm interested" - you can then follow up with qualifying questions
  2. "I am but X, Y and Z" - you can then learn more about the prospect and get a discussion going
  3. "No, I'm not interested" - you've lost the prospect and should then consider reframing your offer or refining your list.

We're not ready now, can you call me back in 6 months?

For a person new to cold calling, this can be the most difficult objection to handle. For many, it may look like the right thing to do is say yes and update the contact record in your CRM with a follow-up task in 5-6 months. However, what you'll find is that you'll end up with a CRM filled with activities scheduled for 6 months from now.

Our recommendation is to instead handle the objection straight away. We've provided three different approaches below that you can use.

Prospect: "Yeah, I'm interested but not ready now. Can you call be back in 3 months when we'll be ready"
You: "Sure thing, I’d be happy to do that! What I’m going to do is send you everything you need now so that you’re ready to pull the trigger. So what day in 3 months time is best to reconnect?... Ok what I’ll do is also send you the contract right now and date it for [date]. And here’s why, we have a financial advisor in every single city right now and we’re looking for one in Sydney. If you don’t come onboard soon, chances are you’re going to lose this opportunity to a competitor of yours in the next week and we won’t be able to work with you…"


You: "OK sounds good! But let me ask you this, is there any chance that we can bring it to this month, not for me but for you? I’m going to explain why before you say yes or no... If you can’t make a commitment soon, the rest of my team will continue discussions with your competitors until one comes on board. If you decide in a month’s time that you’re ready and somebody else has brought a financial advisor onboard, we won't be able to work with you. And believe me, one is bound to say yes to guaranteed results in the next week."


You: "Yeah I know exactly what you mean. I knew you’d be busy when I called and that doing something now would be near impossible. However, that’s why I know this is a good fit for you. There’s never going to be a good time. The business and companies we call are so busy they’re putting this off to next year and then missing out on money whilst their competitors are on the ball. So give me 12 minutes of your time so I can show you exactly why you need to act now. And guess what, if you don’t come onboard you at least the knowledge and strategy to try and do it yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose but everything to gain."

This objection is handled very differently to the others. The big reason for this is you want to introduce scarcity and urgency.

In the above examples, we're using an example of guaranteed results (something that comes with our SEO) and the fact that we only work with one person per industry per geographical area (so that our clients don't compete with each other). In your case, you'll need to modify your script so that it suits your business and offering.

For prospects that still want a follow up in the future, be sure to schedule a time and date with them, send a calendar invite and enter it into your CRM.

We don't have a budget

This objection usually pops up after a prospect has asked for a cost/price. The word "budget' usually indicates they're politely trying to object to the price. After all, you wouldn't have brought up the price if there wasn't interest.

If you think about the objection a bit more, you'll realise that they're saying it for two reasons:

  1. They haven't planned for this so genuinely do not have funds set aside
  2. Although they may have authority to create a budget, you haven't given them a strong enough reason to do so

So how do you handle this?

Prospect: "Look, we don't have a budget for this..."
You: "Yeah I didn't think you'd have the budget. If you had a budget for this <prospect name> you would have spent it already and we wouldn’t be talking. So let me ask you this, assuming I could do half of what I said I could do for free, at no cost, would you be the person to make a decision on this?"

Remember, this objection only pops up after they've asked about price and asking about price is a buying signal. This prospect is warming up.

Just like the other objections, we want to acknowledge, lean in, pivot and ask a question. One strategy for the pivot is to remove price from the equation altogether. In the above example, we ask if they'd be interested in our offer it was for free. Getting a 'no' to this question also means one of two things:

  1. They're not interested and want to get off the call; OR
  2. They haven't been sold on the value/outcome well enough

On top of that, the question this time round isn't to schedule a time for a call. Instead, we're asking if they're the decision-maker. If you get a yes to this question (which you normally will), you can then leverage it during a follow-up by reminding the prospect of their authority and the fact they can make a budget for your solution.

It's too expensive

If this objection pops up frequently and becomes the most common objection after "not interested", chances are you're product is too expensive for your prospects. We're not going to tell you to redesign your product or offering.

Instead, we're going to recommend you revisit your ideal customer profile and buyer personas as chances are, the prospects in your prospect list shouldn't be there and you're calling the wrong people. At the end the day, if you've nailed your pitch and are the king/queen of objection handling and cold calls, any differences in close rates and number of appointments set are going to be determined by your list.

In relation to the objection itself, the reason it's popping up is similar to why prospects say they don't have a budget. You've either not communicated value (or the ROI of your solution) or they genuinely do not have the capital available to get this going. So here are three ways to deal with the objection.

Prospect: "It's too expensive... we can't afford it."
You: "Yeah, I understand it sounds expensive. Any number I give you might sound too expensive too. So what cost were you expecting it to be?"


You: "I completely understand why you say that. But if price wasn't an issue, would you be interested in working with us?"


You: "Yeah, I understand that it sounds expensive and any number I give you right now might seem too much. The reason for that is I probably haven’t properly communicated what value we bring to the table. So why don’t we set aside 15 minutes to run you through how we can <solve problem>? How does 4pm this afternoon sound?"

These are three very different ways to deal with the objection. The first is best for determining if price is the true reason for the objection as opposed to getting off the call. The second is similar but far more straight to the point. The third option takes it a step further and is perfect for products and services that are easier to sell in person or via a demonstration or presentation.

As an example, end to end Facebook and LinkedIn funnels with email automation and lead magnets provide extremely high returns for nearly every B2B business that wants to invest. The issue is capital. You need to get a professionally written and formatted eBook that is of value to your target audience plus improves branding, you need dedicated landing pages, email automation and email copy. Imagine trying to sell all of this on the phone. There's no funnel map to run them through and no conversion data or case studies to show them.

So in these cases when you know the issue is definitely not presenting the value as opposed to them not having capital, the third option may be the best especially for high-value prospects.

We tried it before and it didn't work

Depending on your industry and offering, this may be very easy to address. For us, we attached guarantees to specific services so find that during the prospecting phase, it's an easy objective to handle. At the end of they day, you want to leverage a unique value proposition that enables a shift of risk.

Prospect: "We've tried SEO before and nothing happened. It didn't work for us."
You: "Yeah I understand that. Many of our clients have said the same before joining and all I can say is this... we're the only agency to guarantee results month on month or we work for free. We also don't lock you in for a 12 month contract. There's no risk for you so why don't we set aside 30 minutes tomorrow so I can walk you through how we can make SEO work for your business."
You: "I completely understand where you're coming from. If you've got 20 minutes I can walk you through case studies of businesses in the same industry and show you exactly why it would also work for you. <Unique value proposition>. How does 10am tomorrow sound?"

If a prospect has been burnt in the past by a similar product or service, this can be the hardest objection to handle. Especially as you're dealing with a cold lead. They distrust what you're offering and it will take some effort both during the cold call and after to close the deal.

"I'm already doing/using X"

In our case, we hear this quite a bit.

"We're already working with another agency."

Because of the way we prospect and the leads we target, we're quite sceptical when this is encountered and you should consider the same on your end. The reason for our scepticism is we're always targeting prospects that we have evidence of not working with a competitor or have poor marketing/sales.

So when this pops up, you need to be very tactful. You may have noticed for example, that whatever their competitor is doing can be improved but you do not want to bring this up on a call. Remember, nobody wants to be told that what they're doing or thinking is wrong.

Instead, take the opposite route.

Prospect: "We're already using another agency."
You: "Oh, that's great. Who are you working with?... That's great, good on you for engaging them. Out of interest, what's your favourite thing about them?"

For us, when we do a cold call campaign, we're always targeting companies that have poor digital marketing or do not use an outsourced appointment setting company. For the first group, we've already identified one of their problems and can bring this up on the call at the drop of a dime if necessary.

However, we wait. Instead, we ask them what they love about their current agency. Chances are, if we've identified bad marketing, they've also experienced the same. So when then the question is asked, they might find it challenging to give an answer and instead start thinking about everything they dislike.

Because these prospects are harder to close (they already have an engagement), our advice is to be blunt during the follow up. For example.

You: "Yeah, OK... Well I'll be honest with you... The reason I'm calling is because we noticed you're running Facebook Ads to your website with no clear CTA and no Facebook Pixel installed. I honestly didn't think you had an agency and believe me, I don't want to waste your time trying to convince you to change especially if you're happy... If you're interested in learning about what we do and how we' <big claim>, let me know and I'm happy to walk you through it. Otherwise, that's fine and I'll just move onto a different <business type>... *pause*"

A no at this point should be treated as a hard no and you should just move onto the next prospect.

When to Back Down

You're not going to set appointments with every prospect and so it's important to know that at some point, you will need to back down. This is for the sake of your time plus the reputation and impression your prospect has of your business.

When you begin to hear multiple no's even after asking for something different, it's time to let it go.

At the end of the day, you're representing your company and shouldn't be trying to bully somebody into a meeting. Yes, you do have a quota to hit but it's important to keep it professional.

The examples we've provided above of common cold call objections and how to respond should give you enough direction so that you can get closer to your appointment setting goals. Modify the responses to your business, personality and that of your prospect's.

If you still need a bit of help setting more sales appointments, talk to us today to see if Fide can do it for you.

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