How to Overcome Objections

In previous posts, I revealed the formula for persuasion success, suggested ways in which to engage your persuasion target, and offered ideas about how to explore the persuasion situation and then frame the options for best persuasion results.

As a reminder, here is the formula: Yes = E2F3.

1. Engage your target.
2. Explore the situation.
3. Frame the options.
4. Finesse the rough spots.
5. Finalize the decision.

In this post, I’ll discuss the second of the three “F” components: Finesse the rough spots and overcome objections. To do this, I’ll liken persuasion challenges to whitewater rafting.

Finesse Any Whitewater

Like rafting through grade five whitewater, the ways in which you navigate resistance to your persuasion attempts determine your success.

Not every target will agree with new ideas (or even old ones). But remember that an objection is a sign of interest; apathy is your real enemy. If people take the time to express counterarguments, skepticism or doubt, they’re engaged enough to invest their time.

Thus, objections are good signs. Here are the categories of typical objections and what you can do to rebut them. These are phrased in the classic “no” method — meaning your target says, “We have no need for such a plan.” And that’s where we’ll begin.

No Need: Just because you see a need, others may not. Needs are hardly universal, so you must create need in the eyes of your target. Highly persuasive people possess strong capabilities of creating need among others. Find and demonstrate alternate uses that your target hasn’t yet considered: “The training program won’t just develop people in our retail channel, but can be used to develop our internal sales force and customer service people, as well.”

No Money: This is probably the oldest and most common objection. “We just don’t have the money.” How many times have you heard that? Money, however, is not a resource; it’s a priority. That means there is always money. The real question is, to whom is it provided? After all, the lights are on, payroll is being met, the plants are being misted and the parking lot is clean. The point of persuasion is to ensure that existing money is provided for your persuasion priority, as opposed to something else. Consequently, it’s essential to make your position a high priority. Justify the investment, explain alternate forms of payment or break down the costs to make them more palatable. Few people buy a $50,000 vehicle; they buy a vehicle for $500 a month.

No Time: This argument — “We just don’t have the time” — is as specious as no money. There is always time. Every day contains 24 hours. The question is, to what priorities will that time be relegated? If someone says there is no time, they mean there is no urgency, which implies that other issues have higher priorities. Hence, it’s up to you to elevate the urgency. Prove to your target why saying “yes” now will benefit that person. Is there a window of opportunity in the marketplace? Is there a particular resource in the organization that is available now, but won’t be later? Is the mood of the organization ripe for this sort of initiative?

No Trust: This is the really big one. No matter how much money, time and need your target has, he or she is not going to support you or your position if that person doesn’t trust you. Trust is a function of your target believing that you understand that person’s position and will help him or her achieve self-interests — rather than manipulate them. Signs of trust include sharing humor, requesting opinions, revealing of details not asked for, accepting pushback and offering assistance. Trust can be gained in 20 minutes, after three meetings or, sometimes, never. Keep your promises, don’t rush and prove your capabilities.

Next up: The final step in the persuasion formula.