It's no secret that if you're having trouble overcoming objections, you probably did something wrong during the presentation. Because had you done it correctly you would have uncovered all the objections early on and would be prepared to overcome them. But guess what? The world ain’t perfect.
So what I want to share with you are 10 “Objection Hacks” that you can use to increase sales.
Hack #1 - Belief Affirmation
Dealing with objections is very common in the world of influence. Objection is the twin brother of agreement – there really is no way to have one without the other. This doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to losses and defeats; you just have to know how to entice agreement (instead of objection).
The easiest way to handle objections is by avoiding them in the first place. You see, people hold their core beliefs and principles sacred. They have to protect these beliefs because these ideas represent stability in a person’s life. Attempting to change them on the spot will cause the other person to become overly defensive.
To avoid the situation where you have to engage in verbal fencing with a defensive influencee, I suggest that you find as many values and beliefs to reaffirm before making your offer.
Because as you agree with another person’s beliefs, his defenses go down until he no longer feels threatened by your presence or your ideas. A person would slam the door on a stranger who’s offering the fountain of youth – but a person would never say no to a best friend who has cooked up a crazy idea.
I want you to strive to become your subject’s ‘best friend’ during the conversation. I want you to make the subject as comfortable and trusting as possible so you can avoid objections. Of course, there would still be objections but as a person becomes more and more trusting, he would find fewer and fewer reasons to object to what is being laid out on the table.
Avoid debates that directly counter the subject’s long-standing beliefs – even if you win, your subject will never forgive you for debunking his belief. It’s better to harmonize with subject as much as possible – arguments only create friction and distance between you and the subject.
Hack #2 - Outcome Focusing
When a master influencer comes across a truly reluctant subject, he must not feel even an iota of despair because even the most reticent subject can be gradually drawn out from their defensive stance and fully influenced.
If your influence groundwork is falling apart, you need a more robust system of persuasion. In this section I’m going to share with eight simple steps that will counter most objections by focusing on the outcome of the transaction between you and the other party.
Identify the problem that your offer can solve. You have to be very specific here because wary subjects tend to ignore generalizations even more. Be specific about the issue or problem that you can help solve.
After identifying the problem I want you to show the subject what would happen if this problem continues and he does not do anything to resolve it. Showcase the negative outcomes (i.e. extra costs over time) that will result from inaction.
Ask the subject what type of resolution or outcome he wants to see after being confronted with the issue or problem.
Ask the subject what would happen if he chooses to solve the problem.
Ask the subject again if this new route (the resolution) is really what he wants at the moment.
Think of the long-term effects of the solution that you are offering the subject. Will it really help the other person or will it benefit only you in the end? Re-evaluate. If you think your solution won’t help in the long-term you have to make this clear to the other subject so he won’t have any undue expectations.
If the subject gives an answer that doesn’t completely align with what you want to hear, don’t be too quick to judge. Hear him out and try convincing him again.
Never insinuate or state that the other person’s beliefs are wrong. You will only open a can of worms each time that you do that. Harmonize instead of creating more friction.
Hack #3 - Peak Experience
Humans have a funny way of processing and remembering events. If a person enjoyed something, even if it were just ten minutes of relaxation, he would remember that for as long as he lived.
But if he were enjoying something and that enjoyment was interrupted for even a short period of time, he would remember the end-experience (which is negative) and forget all about the previous pleasure or enjoyment that he had experienced prior to the negative end-experience.
This is by no means an obstacle to influence but rather, it is a window of opportunity. If someone says no to your offer, backtrack just a little bit so you can ask questions that would later erode the resistance of the subject.
If your offer was rejected at first, I want you to ask the subject about his last experience with your competitor. A competitor is any person (or business, if you are a business person) that was previously associated with the subject. Slowly draw out their negative experience and what happened after they had that negative experience.
At this point in time, your subject will slowly remember the negatives more than the positives because that is simply how the human mind operates. After drawing out the negative experiences from your competitor, slowly lead the subject to what you have to offer and what you can do so that he will never have such negative experiences every again (if he chooses to stick with your offer).
Just make sure that you can back up your claims with action; otherwise, the subject will most likely leave you again after having a bad experience. You can use this tactic to transform a “no” mindset into a “yes” mindset. It might take some time to take effect, but it will eventually work. And it can be used in any situation, too!
Hack #4 - Harmonize
When an influencer is operating on full power, he usually views the subject as a direct target. The influencer will do everything in his power to disprove the other person’s beliefs about what is being offered at the moment. The result of such all-out attacks is usually utter failure.
Because no matter how hard you insinuate that a person is wrong for holding certain beliefs, that person will simply ignore you – or worse, fight you until the very end. And we know what that means for influencers. Influencers are at a disadvantage because if the subject walks away, the influencer walks away with nothing but tension and disappointment.
So here’s my advice to you when you are faced with the task of persuading someone who is unmoving in his beliefs. Don’t tell the other person that he’s wrong. Don’t tell him that he has been holding ineffective or false beliefs all his life.
Don’t say that you are in the right and he’s utterly wrong. Instead, harmonize with the other person and ask him to imagine himself performing something for you by accepting another belief. The subject must realize himself what he can gain by accepting your offer.
And if his beliefs are getting in the way, you must loosen those deeply embedded beliefs by providing beliefs of your own. Beliefs eventually lead to target behavior. Your goal is to change someone’s belief so that his behavior will also change.
You can’t change a person’s behavior for the long term if his beliefs remain the same. Your subject must experience for himself what would happen if he changed his beliefs.
You become more than an influencer – you will actually be instructing and guiding the person as he transforms his deeply rooted beliefs. That is completely different from just saying that the other person is wrong. Doing that will clearly get you nowhere – fast.
Hack #5 - Avoid Option Attachment
There are three things that you would always want to avoid when you are pitching an idea, product or service: buyer remorse, anticipated regret and the worst of the three, option attachment.
Buyer remorse takes place when the person regrets having purchased something from you. Anticipated regret is the decision to not buy anything because the buyer feels that he will only regret it later on. Option attachment is the deadliest of the three because it can leave a potential buyer paralyzed with indecision for a very long time.
What is option attachment anyway? Option attachment happens when a person is faced with two options that he finds very attractive. To the decision-maker, choosing one would mean losing the other good option and so choosing would actually equate with instant loss.
The option-attached individual would also feel that if he chooses one, the other option would probably look tantalizingly attractive a few days later. Faced with this loopy conundrum, the option-attached subject will think about the two options to no end – but he will not make a decision anytime soon. To the influencer, option-attached individuals represent uncertainty and a potential dead end.
You can remedy this problem in two steps. First, you have to make sure that during the dialog, the subject will not grow fond or attached to any other option that you present (in the effort to explore both sides of the coin). To be safe, showcase an inferior option so that it would not be logical to be found of such an option at all.
The decision-making stage should also be as quick as possible. Lead the subject to say yes; don’t wait for him to say yes because if you allow him to do that he might grow even more attached to options that you presented him.
The second step has something to do with the options involved in your discussion. Don’t start with the better option (which is your offer). Start with the poorer option and then transition as fast as you can to the better option. Don’t let the subject develop a connection with the option that will ultimately be discarded.
Hack #6 - Behavioral Scripts
Objections arise because the subject is unsure where to go – the ‘default’ response to uncertainty is disagreement. Disagreement is equated with stability and avoidance of change.
Change can either be good or bad – but humans instinctually associate change with negative consequences so that’s another obstacle that you should prepare for.
If you do encounter a staunch objection, you can try behavioral scripts to modify the cause of the negative behavior, which is just the belief of the person regarding a particular issue or object. Here’s an example of a behavioral script:
“You open your email in the morning to find that you have made three hundred sales in just one day. You also receive a report that your store has been restocked and your website is in fine working condition. You don’t have to worry about a thing anymore as you prepare for a fine day with the family. We take care of everything, night and day for you.”
When you give a person a script to work with, you are actually giving the other person instructions as to how he can modify his own behavior. He might not understand the nature of the script, but that’s how it works. The best thing about behavior scripts is that people tend to repeat the script even after the meeting.
This is influence in action. Your words and your intentions stay with the subject even if you are not there with them anymore. However, in order for a behavioral script to be truly effective you must instruct the subject to imagine himself in the ideal situation.
It won’t work if he imagines some John Doe getting all the benefits of your offer. He must experience the benefits in his own imagination so that the effect and impact of the script will linger for days. In your next meeting, try asking for compliance again – you might be surprised with the subject’s answer then.
Hack #7 - Buyer’s Remorse Reversal
Buyer’s remorse can ruin repeat business because it can dissuade people from having dealings with you again. Before that even happens, you have to make sure that the subject has been ‘inoculated’ against buyer remorse even before he leaves your sight.
Imagine you were talking right now with a person who seems to be suffering from buyer remorse. He just bought something from you because your offer looked so tempting at that time.
And now he’s telling you that he won’t be ordering again because of reason A, reason B, etc. What can you do to end this irrational remorse? You can ‘inoculate’ this person by supporting his decision outright and by helping him prepare for the remorse that is sure to come. You can say something like:
“We both know that you invested a lot into this service because you want your home and business establishment to be secure, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s for your own peace of mind. What will you tell people if they ask you about your decision to invest a sizable amount for your peace of mind?”
After dropping that vital question, let the subject think of ways as to how he can fully justify his decision to take your offer. By doing this, the subject won’t feel hopeless and helpless when the pangs of buyer remorse start kicking in.
Even if no one really asks the subject why he invested resources for your offer, the justification that he has crafted in his mind will be enough to halt buyer’s remorse. Because in the end, other people’s words won’t really matter – what does matter is what the subject thinks and feels.
If he is defeated by buyer’s remorse, you can forget about repeat business. But if he is successful in battling buyer’s remorse, your influence stays with that person for good.
Hack #8 - Empathize
Empathy is defined as “the action of understanding/being aware/being sensitive as well as vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experiences of another person”. To be empathetic means you are consciously putting yourself in the other person’s shoes in an effort to understand him and to communicate with him more effectively.
This might not sound like a solution to objections at all, but if you look at the nature of objections, you will see why it can be such an effective tool of influence. Let me repeat a point I made in a previous section: people only say “no” because you haven’t shown that you can bring them to your target destination safely.
The “no” will stay until you are able to show that you will not cause harm or grief in any way. Empathy is a fast and easy way to project a genuinely caring persona during a social interaction.
To be empathetic means you must how that you are interested and you are an active listener as well. You are there not to take away someone’s hard earned resources but to add to those resources through whatever you have to offer.
When a person keeps saying no to you that simply means that trust and rapport has not yet been achieved. If you are unsure as to how to express your genuine care for the other party, you can ask them questions that will help them relate what they want to achieve and what kinds of solutions they want to see.
As the other party begins to share his thoughts you must continue asking questions so you will get a fuller picture of what’s going on in the other person’s mind. Statements like “I feel the same way about that issue…” can be used to reinforce the idea that you are there to solve the other party’s problems and not add to it.
Hack #9 Strategic Vagueness
Before I draw any violent reactions, let me be clear – strategically vague words and sentences are used frequently by so many people to gain compliance from people; people just don’t know they’re actually using such words. Here are some examples of strategically vague words:
You need a streamlined and proactive system to iron out the wrinkles in your business.
The technological revolution will save businesses from going bust.
The best vacation ever is the one that combines leisure with pleasure.
The best decisions are the ones that are done in the heat of the moment.
At first glance, the sentences above appear to be really positive messages – but in reality, these are vague sentences. That is actually the strength of vague words and sentences; in the absence of clear meaning, the brain assigns meaning to make sense of the input.
Sometimes, it would be best to just let the other subject make his own conclusions on the issue based on a strategically vague input.
When you are getting a lot of objections and flak from your subject, backtrack a little and reintroduce your offer with strategically vague words. Your subject will probably be surprised at the change and he will start thinking differently about your offer.
If that works, stick with the theme and start building your influence groundwork once again. We must all remember that the process of influencing others is not linear nor does it follow a singular, traceable path.
It’s filled with ups and downs and so many twists that sometimes it’s hard to keep track of what you had to go through just to gain compliance. This is the reason why you should always strive to add to your repertoire of influence strategies because you never know which one would come in handy.
Hack #10 - Physical Involvement
If you are planning to persuade someone who is known for saying “no” to new ideas, this technique just might help him say “yes” faster. This technique doesn’t involve verbal techniques or complex persuasion structures.
The only thing that you have to do is to lead the person to do something physically during the interaction. By allowing a person to perform an action related to the interaction, defenses are brought down immediately and the person is forced to show body language that approves of the interaction.
Here’s a sample scenario: let’s say you were about to be joined in a meeting by a person who was known to disagree with almost anyone he meets. How can you ensure that this person won’t disagree with the points you will be raising later on in the meeting?
You can try asking the subject to arrange the chairs for you or you can ask him to help you carry stuff to the front of the meeting room. Think of something for the other person to do so that he would a claim over the meeting itself.
Doing so will reduce friction and disagreement and will ultimately help you persuade and influence that person. There has to be some degree of involvement especially in situations where you have to sell something (urgently) to another person or to a group of people.
If a person becomes involved, he will feel that he partly owns the event/situation and he will feel responsible for producing a positive outcome (any positive outcome always benefits the influencer, or both parties).
The best thing about this technique is that it can be done covertly/secretly – the other party will never know that you were trying to influence him/her in the first place.
This is a good thing because people have a tendency to think that they are being manipulated. If manipulation becomes an issue, the other party might decide to simply walk away from dealing with you.