You often hear us say that affiliate marketing is a relationship business, and it is, but it’s also a sales business. Getting affiliates to sign up to promote your offer is a lot like getting customers to buy your product – you hear the word “no” a lot. So you need to know how to overcome objections, and get the Yes.
But according to our co-founder, Amber Spears, if you can get potential affiliates to explain why they’re saying no, you can often easily find a way to make it a win-win situation that will turn that “no” into a “yes”.
In the last 24 months, Amber has done $28.7 million in sales, added 5 million subscribers, and turned 3 books into NYT bestsellers (#1, #2, #3, respectively) on docuseries – and that’s before we start talking about the evergreen and internal offers she’s managed.
She’s been an in-house affiliate manager and outside gun-for-hire before co-founding our affiliate marketing agency, East 5th Avenue. She’s also trained hundreds of salespeople in the 11 years she’s been doing online marketing.
So you know she knows how to overcome objections and get affiliates to promote offers, and lucky for us, she’s sharing her secrets with the blog today.
Overcome Objections – How to Answer 9 Common No’s and Get the Yes
Objection #1: My Affiliate Calendar is Too Full
According to Amber, one of the most common objections you can get from potential affiliates, especially if they’re big in the industry, is that their calendar is too full.
Amber recommended that you don’t let it discourage you, especially if they showed any indication that they think it’s a great offer or would have liked to support it at another point.
Look for Hidden Opportunities in Their Affiliate Calendar
According to Amber, it’s best to start by asking them for more information for the future – so you’ll know down the line how far in advance to reach out, and how often they mail to their list. “It drops their guard down instantly,” Amber said. “They think that you’ve moved on now,” she said.
Then, she recommended asking if they’d be willing to mail about your offer to people who haven’t opened emails about another offer, or if they’d be willing to split the traffic between your product and someone else’s – or, if they only mail once or twice a week, see if they’d be willing to send out another mailing to avoid leaving great money on the table and to let their list know about a product that could actually help them.
Go All Out in What You’re Willing to Give This Affiliate in Return for a Place on Their Calendar
If that doesn’t work, Amber suggested you go all in, by asking, “What can I do to entice you to clear your entire schedule, your entire calendar for me? Would it be increased commission, would it be paying you faster, would it be promoting you in return? What can I do to convince you to do that? Because I want to have a record breaking month, I want to have a record breaking launch. This offer is so important to get in the hands of people. I believe in it and I really, really need your help to do that. So what can I do to make sure that I you can move your calendar around for me?”
Create a Private Affiliate Launch Just for Their Audience
Another option, if there’s really nothing they can do to accommodate your offer, is to do a private launch with them after the official launch has ended.
While this affiliate will not be eligible for contest prizes you give out during the official launch, Amber suggested you consider giving them an increased commission if they can commit to sending 20,000-50,000 clicks.
Objection #2: Your Affiliate Offer is Off-Brand
When you hear this objection, Amber recommended you get curious and ask them why they think your offer is not a good fit for their list.
A lot of times, you can get creative, and customize the offer to this specific audience, or add on bonuses that will bridge the gap for the audience.
For example, you probably won’t expect to see a fashion app promoted on a girl boss business and productivity kind of YouTube channel, but Amy Landino, co-founder of Aftremarq – a video marketing company that works with corporate brands like Oracle, Intel and SAP – made it work for her audience by talking about dresses she wears when she goes to speak at conferences, and the type of dresses she will never wear on stage.
As Amber pointed out, that’s not going to be possible 100% of the time – say, if you’re promoting a gender-specific product and your desired partner serves another gender entirely – but do your best to think outside the box. Often, you’ll find that they think your offer competes with their own product or another partner’s product, and if you can convince them that your offer can actually compliment it instead of compete with it, you have a higher chance of winning the deal.
But when all else fails, Amber recommended to see if you can get a referral to a colleague of theirs that could be a better fit.
Objection #3: I Only Promote Top Affiliate Offers or My Top Affiliate Partners
According to Amber, some companies only work with the top 30 affiliates that performed the highest for them the previous year. Here too, she recommended to get curious.
Ask your contact what makes these affiliates top partners, and what you can do to become one of those top affiliates. Stretch the benefit you think will come from working together, and offer a few options to get your foot in the door.
“Maybe I can give you 3 mailings and you’ll give me 1 and let me in, maybe you can do a test mailing for me, maybe I can be on your podcast,” are some of the suggestions she recommended you bring up.
But another reason for asking what makes these affiliates top partners is because it’s possible you can easily deliver more. For example, if they each send this company 10,000 clicks a year and you know you send every partner an average of 100,000 clicks a year, it could be worth it for this company to give you a chance.
Objection #4: The Affiliate Commission (or Cost Per Acquisition or Cost Per Lead) is Too Low
If the affiliate is used to getting a significantly higher commission than what you’re offering, consult with your boss to see if there’s a way to increase what you’re offering.
If you are the boss, “make sure you stay within your margins. Don’t give away the farm. And just know that whatever you give them, they’re likely going to keep wanting. It’s really hard to go back down after you’ve given,” Amber said.
Either way, once the decision was made to increase the commission, go back to the affiliate, even if you can’t provide the full amount the affiliate asked.
Tell the affiliate, “It might not be exactly what you want, but I promise you this offer converts really, really well – got to be confident of that, don’t lie – I can pay you faster than anybody else. In fact, I can pay you in 24 hours or I can pay you in 3 days, and I promise you, I’m going to give you everything you need for a successful promotion, and this offer is going to rock it,” Amber said.
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If you absolutely can’t increase the commission, Amber recommended you come back to them with the same approach – be confident about your intention to become their best partner – and suggest you guys test this offer together, and include a few things you can do if the offer doesn’t bring in as much as the affiliate expects to earn, like paying them per click or pre-paying them for their list.
Objection #5: I Won’t Mail for You if You Won’t Mail for Me
You offered your affiliate a great commission and you’re willing to do anything you can for her to succeed, but she refuses to move forward with the mailing unless you mail your list about her product too.
And sometimes you can do it, but sometimes her offer conflicts with your brand identity or values, or you know from previous experience this type of offer doesn’t convert well with your audience, or you’re simply running a launch with 400 affiliates, and you can’t possibly mail for everyone.
Once you’ve made a firm decision you won’t be providing reciprocal mailing, Amber suggested you consider renting their list – or pre-paying a flat fee for a mailing – but don’t tell them that just yet.
Start by asking them how much money they usually make from their list per mailing. Ask this before you make an offer, so they don’t triple their numbers with the intention to get a higher payment from you. Only after they tell you their numbers do you want to bring up the renting option.
Then, it’s time to negotiate, because according to Amber, there’s a high chance they’ll tell you the highest sum they’ve ever made off a mailing instead of their average.
Suggest to pay some of the amount – say, 50% – upfront, and then, maybe meet them where they want if they reach certain results and show you proof (for example, screenshots that they indeed sent an email to all their buyers, instead of just to leads who haven’t proven themselves as buyers).
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Alternatively, if what they want is way outside your business comfort zone, Amber suggested you consider offering a test run to make sure the upfront payment is worth it to you. For example, if they want to earn $10,000 from the deal, offer them a $2,500 test run to a segment of their list, and if you both get numbers that make you happy, expand the deal.
Another option, according to Amber, if you don’t want to pay upfront, is to give them a higher affiliate commission than you would usually, and refer them to a partner who might be open to mailing for them – so they’re getting the reciprocal mailing they wanted (just not from you) and a higher commission.
Need more ideas? We’ve got an entire guide just about this objection. No opt-in or payment required. Just click here for additional ideas of what you can offer when you can’t reciprocate mailings [link to article], and start building those deal closing muscles.
But do that once you’re done reading this guide, because there are 4 more common objections that might be causing you to leave money on the table.
Objection #6: Your Affiliate Offer Hasn’t Been Tested & Proven
If you’ve been reading our blog, you know we highly recommend you test your offer before pitching it to anybody else to promote, so that the risk is always on you, and you always make sure you know how to help your partners get the most out of it when it’s their time to promote.
But if that’s not possible, Amber recommended offering affiliates money upfront to test it on their audience – a minimum of $1 per click, and up to $1.50 if you can.
“I would ask them how much they make from their list. If I can match that, I will, on the condition that I get a certain amount of clicks or sends to unopens,” Amber said, stretching that “the one thing I want you to remember, ‘How can I mitigate risk for my partner, who’s taking my unproven offer from my unproven funnel and putting it out in front of their tribe, which is how they feed their family most of the time.”
Objection #7: I’m Doing an Internal Launch
What do you do when a partner tells you her whole list is closed because she’s doing an internal launch?
According to Amber – you guessed it – you ask questions.
The first thing she recommended doing is seeing if there’s any space at all where you might be able to write something that’s customized to what they’re doing with their launch right now.
For example, Digital Photography School has a course that’s all about helping you take amazing photos at night. Let’s say this company was getting ready to launch this course right when you were getting ready to launch your self defense course.
You could customize your swipe copy to talk about how photographers can protect both their own safety and that of their heavy, expensive equipment while they were out there, taking their art to the next level. Maybe you could even shoot a bonus video tutorial just for this audience, which they will get when they buy both courses through your partner.
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If that doesn’t work, see if they’ll promote you on social, their podcast or their blog instead, or if they’d be open to doing a private launch just for their audience once they’re done with their own launch.
Objection #8: The Company Doesn’t Do Solo Mails or Doesn’t Do Any Affiliate Mailings
Amber’s answer to this affiliate object is always “What will it take to be the first person that you do email solos with? What will it take to be the first person this year? What can I do to delight you to get to the point where you will mail for me? Is it a money thing? Is it a brand thing? Let’s talk about this.”
She emphasized that the only way this could work is if you have an offer that you truly believe in, and only if you truly believe it could be a win-win partnership and that this company’s audience could benefit from it.
Objection #9: The Affiliate Stops Answering Your Emails and Phone Calls
“So you had a great conversation with an affiliate, maybe you guys went out, had some drinks at a conference. You feel like you’re best buds. You get home, you try contacting them, and they just go MIA,” Amber says.
Tell us we’re not the only ones this ever happened to.
“For me, I always go for a technique, where I’m just like, ‘Look, are you uninterested in this? Do you want me to stop hounding you? Because I will. I thought we had a good connection, but if I was wrong and I was reading it wrong, no big deal, no hard feelings, just let me know how I can help you in the future.’ 90% of the time people are going to feel really bad, and they’re going to respond back, and will be like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I got busy or my kid was sick or whatever, but they’ll usually get back when you start to take away,” Amber said.
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“Understand that the power from this is the takeaway. ‘Oh, I thought you were interested in this. I’ve been extending this, and now I’m gonna remove it from you,’ and that’s usually, by human nature, people just reach out and grab it and want it back,” she explained.
Do Your Best, But Remember that Sometimes it’s Best to Walk Away from an Affiliate Deal
Amber recommended to always try to get affiliates on the phone, where it’s not as easy to ignore you as it is over email.
But when you’ve done all you can do, “you have to be willing to walk away. No hard feelings, we really love you, we’d love to work with you, but it’s not in the cards right now,” Amber said, adding that this might end up getting you the deal after all.
“I cannot tell you how many times that motivates someone to do something,” she said.