If you're selling anything more complex than paper clips, your product can be intimidating. It could be software, or office equipment, or social media management. Any of those things can seem very complicated.
And that can make for a hard sell.
"It sounds good, but it's too complicated" is a common objection in SaaS sales, but it shows up in other industries, too. It's tough to deal with because you can't make your product simpler. (Well, that's mostly true; we'll get to a sort of exception below.)
But with the right approach, you can reframe this objection as an opportunity for growth. With that reframing and carefully attending to the real objections underlying this one, you can make the sale.
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Before we get into the five ways to deal with this objection, let's talk about something that many sales reps don't realize:
It's not about your product
Let's get this out of the way right now: dealing with this objection isn't about your product. It's not about your company. It's not about you.
It's about how your prospect is feeling.
Buyers are overwhelmed, they're fearful of difficult change, and they're often cynical from past negative experiences. Would you buy in that state? No. And neither will they. So it's your job to get them out of that emotional condition.
They need to go from overwhelmed, fearful, and cynical to clear, confident, and comfortable. If you can get them excited about buying, you've already won the battle.
This is a big mind shift for a lot of people. But remember: selling isn't about your product. It's about your customer. Keep that in mind and you'll be set to deal with any objection. But it's especially important for this one.
Trust me. We worked super hard to make a sales CRM that's as simple as possible. We cut out all of the features that we didn't need. It's a lean, slim, sales productivity powerhouse. But people are still afraid of how complicated it is.
I've dealt with this objection more times than I can count. And you can absolutely overcome it.
Bad experiences in the past don't help
Let's go back to where I said that buyers can be cynical.
This happens when they've had a bad experience with a similar product in the past. Maybe they bought a similar type of software and had a disastrous implementation process. Or they never got past the introduction phase so they lost a ton of money on a product.
This makes people really nervous to buy something similar. But you can still overcome that nervousness to make a sale.
But again, lots of salespeople have trouble with this one. They get into trash talking their competitors, or emphasizing how easy their product is to use, or some other bullshit.
That's not what you need to do in this situation. Here's what you need to do:
Get agreement on the value of your product
Ask your prospect point-blank: "If it wasn't for the complexity, would you be excited about making this purchase right away?"
If they say yes, you're golden—you can move on to the next step.
But if they say no, you have more work to do. A "no" means there are other objections to the sale—and the prospect doesn't buy into your value proposition. You need to dig further into what they're nervous about.
You're never going to move the sales process along with a prospect who doesn't believe in your value proposition.
There are lots of sales objections, and I won't get into dealing with all of them here.
But there's a crucial tactic you need to use in this situation: getting your prospect to tell you what the value of your product would be to them. Actually, verbally tell you. Ask them "How would this product benefit your company? How much value would you get out of using it?"
If they seem to understand the true value of your product, great. You're right on track. Mention other ways that your product can add value to their company. Or reconfirm what they said with examples from other customers (case studies are invaluable here).
On the other hand, if they don't seem to understand your value proposition, you need to clear it up for them. Tell them how similar companies have gotten a lot of benefit from your product.
Once you've come to an understanding on the value proposition, you have five ways to proceed. Go with the one that makes the most sense for your company and your prospect:
1. Pitch them on a simple start
Jumping into a complex software system—or any of today's complicated products, really—is intimidating. There's a lot to learn and a lot that can go wrong. That makes people nervous because they know they're going to commit a huge amount of their time to something that might not work.
But prospects are often comforted knowing that they don't need to go all-out from the start.
Maybe they can implement a single part of your software. Or start using your product in a single office building instead of throughout their entire company. If you have a complex product, give your customers a way to ease into it
Here's a bonus tip: remind your prospect that successful approach change in a smart way. They start small, make adjustments, and grow. They don't jump in, fail, get discouraged, and quit. That's a recipe for getting stuck in the past and passed up by competitors who are more comfortable with modern tech.
If your company doesn't yet have a good way to start simple, try to come up with one. It's often cheaper than some of the other ways to deal with this objection, which is a definite bonus when you're selling it.
2. Show them how to get help
There are tons of talented contractors and consultants out there. I'm certain that there's one who will help people implement your software, set it up, and get it running at full speed.
This takes a huge burden off your prospect's shoulders. Now they don't have to go through a potentially weeks-long process that, frankly, often sucks. They can hire someone else to take care of the hard part.
So your prospect gets all the value of your product without most of the hard work. It's a win-win. Whatever cost they pay to bring in a consultant to help with this will be paid back in full by the gains they get from your product.
I also like to offer help in finding the right person to help with this. Over time, you get to know the people who work with your product, and you're bound to meet consultants who can help your prospects.
If you're going to do this, you'll need to be ready for the price objection. You might get asked, "You're trying to sell me an expensive, complicated product, and you want me to spend more money to hire someone to help me use it?"
You need to be really on your game with your value proposition here. Show them with previous examples that paying even thousands of dollars for a consultant will pay off because of how awesome your product is. "It'll seem really expensive at first," you can say, "but you'll be blown away by how much more effective you are once you're up and running."
3. Do the work for them
"I know this seems super complicated. But for clients like you, we take care of the hard part. We work through implementation, set up our API, do any necessary customization coding, train your employees, give you the full handbook on how to use the software, and put you in touch with our customer success team once a month to make sure everything's going well."
How could you say no to that? Lots of prospects can't. Which is a great reason to provide all the support your customer needs. Overwhelm and cynicism go out the window.
Of course, you have to be able to actually provide all of this support. This is not the place to overpromise on what you can deliver.
But if you can help your customers get up to full speed fast, you'll probably find that you make a lot more sales.
Keep in mind that you don't need to provide 100% full-service setup help. You might be able to just help with the most difficult part. Maybe it's integrating your API, or running employees through training. Find what your prospects are most nervous about and find a way to help them through it.
(And yes, you can charge an upfront fee for this. Here's how to do it.)
4. Make them realize the complexity is worth it
This is often what sales reps think they're doing. But you need to approach it more carefully than you expect. Don't just tell the prospect that they're wrong—you have to make them think it was their idea that the complexity would be worth it.
For example, you can point out that their biggest competitors all use this product and that they've seen great results. Or point to industry trends that show increasing adoption of your type of technology.
If you have stories about other companies that bit the bullet and just dealt with the complexity until they became comfortable with your product, this is a great place to share them.
Because sometimes this issue just comes down to a tough truth: you're going to have to deal with it.
Just like the situation above where you recommend hiring a consultant, show your client that once they're set up, they'll see amazing benefits. That it'll be worth the rough start and growing pains.
5. Show them it's not as complex as they think
I started this post with the idea that modern products are complex. And that's true. But sometimes prospects think that your product is more complex than it is. For example, anyone who's tried to set up a Salesforce instance knows that CRMs can be extremely complex and hard to use.
When we tell them about Close, we sometimes have to convince them that it's not as hard as they think it is. We built Close to be simple, but some people have a hard time believing that a CRM can be easy to use.
We could explain to them how easy it is to set up our CRM. But sometimes it takes more than that. Is a prospect convinced that your product is complicated? The best thing you can do is demonstrate its simplicity.
That's why we sometimes walk people through the entire setup process for our CRM in a single call. 20 minutes into the call, they’re able to call all their priority leads, and that changes their minds to a degree that no amount of persuasive talk could achieve.
Once they see that you're offering something simpler than they're used to, you've got 'em.
Reframe the objection as an opportunity for growth
No matter how you decide to tackle this objection, there's one crucial aspect: turning what seems like a problem into an opportunity for growth. Your product can help prospects grow their revenue and scale their businesses. It might be hard at first. But those results are worth the time or money it takes to get past the complexity (however they decide to deal with it).
Convincing people of this isn't always easy. That's why you need to be a picture of clarity and confidence. You need to be excited about this opportunity. You're helping your prospect meet their ultimate business goals, and that's awesome. When your prospect can tell that you're excited, they can't help but feel more positive.
Remember: for companies to grow, they need to be able to implement software and take on projects that would have seemed impossibly complex in the past. Do what you can to help them reach that stage, and you'll have a long-term customer with great lifetime value.
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