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Negotiate Effectively: Anticipate Objections

This lesson is a part of an audio course Negotiate Effectively by Barbara J. Bruno

When prospects have objections during negotiations, it can cause your stress level to rise and often make you feel as if you are on the defensive. When you consider an objection as a positive step forward, however, it can change the dynamics of the entire negotiation. Think about an objection as a buying sign or a request for more information. An objection does not mean the prospect won't eventually commit. That is why you must learn to effectively overcome objections to close the deal.

Prepare for Objections

Before you meet with your next prospect, spend some time reviewing past negotiation situations. Where did you feel you lost opportunities because you were unable to work through objections?

Think about the times you almost lost a sale but didn't. What did you do in those situations? Use your observations to make a list of the objections you encounter most often and create responses for each. Having a list before you go will reduce your stress level when objections come up and allow you to stay relaxed. List the objections under four categories: Price, Personal, Postponement, or Services.

Price – self-explanatory – they feel your prices are too high, or they are not going to enjoy a strong enough ROI on the products or services you are offering.

Personal – they have either dealt with you or your company before, and the experience was not pleasant.

Postponement – anything that will delay the negotiating process.

Service – they don't trust people in your Profession. A perfect example would be a used car salesperson.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

To understand another's objections, take a minute and look at your offer from their perspective. People are motivated to talk about themselves, especially when it involves beliefs and opinions. This proves to them that you're genuinely interested and curious about their views, which will help you overcome their objections and allow them to see you as an ally vs. an opponent.

After you ask questions, listen. Instead of formulating your response and jumping in at the first pause, step back and watch for body language that shows more about the motivation behind their objections. Their tone, expressions, and gestures may indicate areas for further questioning. It's not your job to agree or disagree with their statements. You want to understand where they are coming from so you can position yourself as the logical solution.

Validate Concerns

Once you understand the prospect's real concerns and the reasons behind them, acknowledge that you take their concerns seriously, and then you can provide them with information that helps them view your products or services differently in one of the following ways:

  • Offer a new perspective. Reframe their point of view by showing them how your product is a unique replacement for problems they face or a perfect addition to their existing solutions.
  • Bridge the gap. If their objection relates to misinformation or questions they still have, offer what they need to know to feel good about choosing your product.
  • Differentiate. Prevent them from going to your competitor or develop in-house solutions, highlight your product or service's exclusive advantages. Share your track record and the benefits your current clients enjoy.

Stop Creating Speed Bumps

Often, you can be your own worst enemy during negotiations. Every prospect has a vision of their ideal solution. Your job is to help them realize that vision, not distort it. You distort the prospect's visions by:

  • Answering unasked questions.
  • Pitching unwanted features and benefits.
  • Misaligning your solution to their pains or use-case.
  • Saying anything that creates unnecessary risk in the prospect's mind.

Sometimes objection handling is about knowing when to step back. Address their objections and concerns, provide your solution, and then STOP TALKING! Too often, you can be on the verge of a successful negotiation process and then talk yourself right out of the sale.

Don't Hear "No," Hear "Not Yet!"

If your prospect continues to say no and negotiations are not going well, what can you do? Remember, the word "no" isn't necessarily the end of your process. It can often be your prospect's way of regaining control of the conversation.

If you act as if the objection is a deal-breaker, you can test its importance — and maybe identify the prospect's real concern. Don't wait for another person to make the first move. When the same objection comes up repeatedly, bring it up before it is mentioned again, and seek resolution early in your process. This will help you build credibility and rapport.

Often, negotiations are not going well because of timing, which is something you must clarify before proceeding.

Pricing Is Usually Not the Issue – It's a Value Issue

When your counterpart is not confident that you can solve their problem, they will put more pressure on lowering your price. Price is rarely an issue when your opponent is confident of the value of your products or services.

When a prospect says the price is too high, learn what they would need to see to justify paying more, and show them you can deliver on that. You may not need to overcome all objections. Prove your value and let your counterpart sell themselves on your product or service throughout your negotiating process.

Welcome Objections

You must learn NOT to take objections personally and welcome them because they are a buying sign. If someone is still talking to you, you have a chance to negotiate a win for them as well as yourself!

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Written by

Barbara J. Bruno

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