Communications Skills: Handling Objections

    

The best negotiators in the world are great at handling objections. 

When you find yourself operating in the world of high-stakes negotiations, it’s only a matter of time before your counterpart objects to what you’re saying. If your goal is making a deal regardless, you need to figure out how to overcome objections and keep the conversation moving.

In most cases, objections occur because of price. Your counterpart might not have room in the budget to cover your costs or the flexibility to give you a better deal. 

Either way, before handling objections, you must remain curious and figure out why your counterpart is pushing back. Once you’ve determined where the objections are coming from, you can defuse them using these three Black Swan skills.

two parties negotiate the terms of a contract at a table in an office

1. Proof of Life™

Is there a deal to be had, despite the other side’s objections? Find out by asking a Proof of Life™ question, which is designed to help you determine whether your counterpart plans to conduct business with you or with your competitor,  or has another solution in mind. 

The Proof of Life question is a Calibrated Question™ that might look something like this: With all the widget companies in the world, why did you choose us?

Your counterpart’s response to this question will help you determine whether you’re the favorite or the fool. If the other side responds with something like, I don’t know, you tell me, chances are the relationship you may have thought was solid, is not, or they already have another company in mind and they are just stringing you along.   by using you to do their due diligence. In this case, you are the fool.

On the other hand, if the response is more robust—Why did we choose you? Well, your reputation is unprecedented, and the quality of your widgets speaks for itself. We’ve done a lot of business with you over the years, and we look forward to continuing the relationship for many years to come—They want to work with you. In this case, you are the favorite.  

When your counterpart articulates your value, it’s priceless. They’re telling you they want to work with you, so move forward with confidence.  

2. Mislabeling

A Mislabel is just like a Label™, but with one key difference—you are Labeling an emotion, dynamic, motivation or circumstance incorrectly. Intentional Mislabeling is an advanced skill and should be used sparingly.  Inadvertent Mislabeling will occur as you practice the skill. This becomes a great opportunity for you to learn how Mislabeling works and how effective an intentional Mislabel can be when used correctly. . Mislabeling leads into one of our Laws of Negotiation Gravity™,  The desire to correct is irresistible. Use a Mislabel, and the other side will quickly correct you and when they do, they will correct you with accurate information.  When handling objections using Mislabels, you first need to figure out why the objections are occurring. If they are due to price, you can say something like: It sounds like you’ve got a product you’re happy with.

If they were truly happy with the product they’re currently using, why would they be talking to you in the first place? 

Because the desire to correct is so immense, your counterpart will correct you. Their response will contain corrected tidbits of information—and potential Black Swans—that can change the whole face of your negotiation.

3. Accusation Audit®   

Another way to handle objections in a negotiation is by using an Accusation Audit®. In doing so, you get ahead of all the negatives and pushbacks the other side might have. Negatives are the elephant in the room. With the skillful use of Accusation Audits, you can address the negatives before they even rise to the surface.

For example, if you’re in the business of selling Pilot training classes, your Accusation Audit might look something like this: You’re going to think our training is expensive. You are probably thinking you can get training cheaper elsewhere, You might even think I’m crazy to suggest that you spend this much money on our training when you don’t even know if the program will work for you.

With these Audits, you address the negative concerns harbored in your counterpart’s mind. head,  Once the negatives are out in the open, they can’t use them against you. It’s an easy way to mitigate the negatives that may have led to the objections  before they occur

The Last Impression Is the Lasting Impression

Nobody wins every single deal. Sometimes, there’s just not a deal to be had. If you find yourself at an impasse, use a go-to Label to resolve the situation: It sounds like there’s nothing I can do to change your mind, or It seems like there’s not enough value in this for you. 

At this point, you will find out where you stand. Assuming there isn’t a deal on the table, make sure you don’t leave the negotiation with negative feelings. After all, you never know when you might do business with your counterpart again. People are 6x likely to do business with people they like, so always thank your counterpart and let them know that you look forward to working with them in the future.   Remember one of our Laws of Negotiation Gravity: The last Impression is the Lasting Impression. Always end on a good note.

Now that you know about handling objections like a world-class negotiator, it’s time to continue your learning. Download our free guide, 7 Unexpected Ways to Increase Sales, to learn how to increase your influence and win more deals.

increase sales

Barbara Thomas

About The Author

Barbara Thomas, having joined the team in June 2021 after retiring from three decades of service with the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD). During her time with the department, Barbara worked as a patrol officer and was selected to the SAPD Hostage Negotiation Team, where she served for 14 years. She was also assigned to the SAPD Training Academy, where she taught various academic subjects to police cadets. Additionally, Barbara worked undercover while assigned to the Repeat Offenders Program. During that time, she was also assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, where she worked with federal agencies on terrorism-related activities. On top of this, Barbara worked as a recruiter for the SAPD’s Recruitment Unit. Upon being promoted to the rank of Detective Investigator, she was assigned as a Uniformed Evidence Detective where I processed crime scenes. She was then selected to the Crisis Response Team, where she worked as a Family Violence Detective and was also assigned to work with the Joint County and City Domestic Violence Task Force. Prior to and during the beginning of her career in law enforcement, Barbara was an active duty and reserve member of the United States Air Force (USAF) for a combined 14 years of service. In her first job after technical training school, Barbara worked as a jet engine mechanic servicing B-52 Bombers and KC-135 Tankers. She then cross-trained into the intelligence field where she worked as an intelligence analyst.