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How to Defuse Objections and Stop the Sales Tug of War (Summit Replay)

This video training was originally presented at the 2019 Sales Hacker Success Summit. In it, Founder of Sales DNA, Josh Braun, shows you how to diffuse objections and close the deal.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why people raise objections
  • The problem with overcoming objections
  • The cause of the problem
  • A way out: examples of the defusing objections framework

The Video

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Download the Defusing Objections Guide Here

Outline, Timestamps, and Transcript

What to avoid (00:00)

Mindset (04:09)

Validating (05:30)

Ask and repackage (06:53)

Mirroring (08:39)

The Framework (10:04)

Step 1: Shh (10:56)

Step 2: Diffuse (11:22)

Step 3: Encourage (12:33)

Step 4: Repackage (14:26)

Step 5: Respond (15:05)

Final Takeaways (17:22)

***

Objections Are Real: What to Avoid (00:00)

Ever get tongue tied when prospects raise objections? If so, you’re in the right spot.

I’d like to start by telling you a story. A few months ago I was in the mall when a mall kiosk person locked eyes with me and said this, “You have beautiful brown eyes. May I ask you a question?”

Now, if this has ever happened to you, you’d probably look away and run the other direction because you don’t want to feel the pressure of having to buy something that you probably don’t want. But I didn’t do that.

Instead, I leaned into the discomfort. I wanted to hear the pitch, but more importantly, I wanted to hear how this person would respond to objections. So I said “Yes.”

And here’s the first thing the mall kiosk person asked me,

“How often do you take a shower?”

I was a little taken back by that. I’ve known my wife for 20 years, and she’s never even asked me that question, but I answered it…

“Well, it depends, but typically once a day.”

“Do you wash your face?”

“Yes.”

“What do you use to wash your face?”

“Soap.”

And then the pitch.

“This cream will cleanse grime impurities without stripping the skin of its natural oil. Let me show you.”

And then she took the product out and proceeded to want to rub it on my hand to which I said, “No thanks,” kind of raising my first objection.

“Why? Let me show you.”

“No thanks. I use soap for that. I’m good.”

And then here’s how she tried to overcome the objection.

“Yes, but soap breaks down the moisture barrier, which results in water passing out of the skin more rapidly, making it severely dry.”

To which I said, “I’m not interested.”

And then she tried to overcome the objection again using a different rebuttal script.

“Why are you not interested? This is the best skin cream for your dry skin.”

“I don’t want it.”

“Why not?”

I threw another objection at her. “I don’t have the budget.”

To which she said, “You know, it’s hard to put a price on healthy skin. Let me ask you a few questions.”

And then I pretended to get a call, and I said, “Yeah sorry, I have to take this call. I got to go.” And I got out of there.

What was going on that made this situation really awkward? What’d you notice when you were listening to it?

What you noticed was a tug of war. The mall kiosk person trying to overcome, going into defensive mode, defending the sale. And because she was doing that, I smelt her commission breath. I knew that she was putting her best interests before mine.

This happens all the time when prospects raise objections, too. We typically use similar rebuttal scripts to try to overcome the objection somehow.

So if a prospect says, “We have a vendor,” a typical rebuttal script might sound something like this. “Well, how do know there aren’t better options out there?” Can you just feel the pressure when you hear that?

Another phrase that’s pretty popular when I Googled how to respond to this objection is something like this, “Companies that use X find that our product makes their life much easier since it has A, B, and C.”

When you use statements like these, you destroy your credibility, because prospects can sense that you’re putting yourself and the sale before their interests. It’s like you’re playing tug of war. You’re defending, and they’re on the offense.

So what I want to teach you today is a way out.

A way that you don’t have to play tug of war with your prospects. A way that will feel better to diffuse objections when you hear them.

So we’re going to cover three things: a mindset that I want you to get into whenever you hear an objection, some phraseology or words that you can use, and then an offer at the end, which, yes, is a blatant sales pitch.

But you’re not going to be able to raise any objections because this is a one-way webinar. Awesome.

The Objection Handling Mindset (04:09)

Okay, so let’s get into the mindset first. Mindset’s really important — how we approach or think about, or how we behave when we actually hear an objection.

So, first things first. When you hear an objection, the first thing I want you to do is to detach. What do I mean by that? The world’s a big place. You don’t have to get this sale. You could detach from the outcome.

It’d be great if they said yes. It’d be great if you got the sale. But it’s also okay if you don’t.

When you come at this with the prospect’s best interest in mind, even if that doesn’t involve you, and you don’t assume that what you have is what the prospect needs every single time, the prospect can actually feel that energy on their side.

And it’s really important to come in with the right intent. When you have the right intent, that energy transfers over. So detach from the outcome.

Second, instead of trying to think of an objection as something to overcome, I want you to think of it as something to understand.

Because when people feel understood, truly understood, that you’re on their side, regardless of if that means working with you or not, they’re going to be more open to having a dialog with you, and their guards are going to go down.

Validating the Objection (05:30)

In order for prospects to feel understood, they have to feel like you’re actually validating what they’re saying.

So rather than overcoming something, we’re going to validate it. This doesn’t mean we have to agree with it or disagree with it. It just means that we have to accept what they’re saying and validate it or acknowledge it.

Let me give you an example because this is a really difficult skill for a lot of people to wrap their head around.

There’s a gentleman by the name of Chris Voss who wrote a great book called Never Split the Difference, and a lot of these principles that I’m going to share with you are based on the work that he did.

He was a former hostage negotiator that used some of these tactics when negotiating for people’s lives to be able to create a dialogue with people so that they’d feel more comfortable opening up and sharing and, ultimately, releasing hostages. So, what I’ve done is I’ve taken some of his work and actually applied it to how to diffuse some objections.

So, let’s actually start with one that’s a little bit different, one that’s a really heated discussion.

Let’s say you’re out to dinner with someone and they tell you that they are pro, or for, having a border wall. Let’s assume for the purposes of this webinar that you have an opposite viewpoint.

Most of the time when I’m out to dinner and I hear this, it’s the tug of war. People are shouting over each other, explaining why they’re right or why they’re wrong, and this rarely gets anywhere. People rarely change their mind.

Ask and repackage (06:53)

So, starting with validating, how do we validate? How do we acknowledge without agreeing or disagreeing? Well, here’s some phraseology for you.

Someone says, “I’m for having a border wall.” Rather than you saying why you’re not for having a border wall, we’re going to ask them to expand so we can understand it a little bit better. “What about having a border wall is important to you?

Now, notice that language. As soon as you do that, people are going to just automatically feel disarmed, because you’re not trying to play tug of war. You’re truly trying to understand their perspective.

You can do this with anything that people say that you might be opposed to. Again, the skill of not having to agree or disagree, but just validating and understanding.

And they may start to tell you all the reasons why they want a border wall, and you might just listen. And when they stop talking, just count to two or three, and they may keep talking. And then you might, after they’ve done expressing themselves, say something like this. “It sounds like you want a border wall to curb illegal immigrants, human trafficking, and smuggling.”

So what we’re doing here is we’re just repackaging what they said, and we’re saying it back to them. Something magical happens when you do this.

People start to feel really understood. And until people feel understood, they’re not going to be open to what it is that you have to say.

So this is a really good skill. Just practice this for a while. Whenever someone says something that you disagree with, try to use these two pieces of phraseology. Ask a question to better understand it, and then repackage it and say it back.

Mirroring (08:39)

So here’s another example. Let’s say you are a mattress salesperson. A prospect comes into the store, lays on a mattress that you get paid a high commission for, but says, “Hey, I like the mattress, but it’s too firm.” Rather than you starting to defend the mattress and explain all the other benefits of the mattress — the pricing and the financing — we’re going to start to just say, “It’s too firm?”

This is another technique from Chris Voss. It’s called mirroring. What I’m doing here is I’m essentially repeating the last three words with a little bit of an up tone. And this is another interesting technique to get people to give you some more information.

Remember, the idea here is that when people are talking and they’re giving you information and you’re really looking at them and you’re nodding and they feel like they’re heard, well, they’re going to be much more open to listening to your point of view.

So, “I like the mattress, but it’s too firm.”

“It’s too firm?” And you’ll notice they’ll just keep talking.

This is another thing you could actually try with people.

When they’re done talking, just repeat the last three words. And then after they get done talking, we’re going to repackage it. “The firmness of a mattress is a very personal issue. It sounds like you want to select the right amount of firmness so that you can get a good night’s sleep.”

If you just practice this, and just burn this in, you’re going to start to develop the muscle.

The Framework (10:04)

Okay, so let’s go through some specific examples of what we do next. This has to do with an objection we’re going to typically hear during an outbound call.

So, when we’re calling people from an outbound perspective on a cold call, typically they’re always going to be using something when we call. If they were actively shopping for something, they would probably call us. They’re going to push back and say, “Hey, we’re using X, Y, and Z.”

Now I’m going to share with you some phraseology, but I do want to share a little disclaimer. Although I’m using specific words, I’m not suggesting that you memorize my exact words. But get the intent behind what I’m saying, and then make the words your own, things that feel comfortable for you.

So typical objection. “Hey, we’re already using a vendor. We’re using this, we’re using that. We got that covered.” So rather than trying to overcome it, we’re going to lean into it. We’re going to detach, and we’re going to understand.

Step 1: Shh (10:56)

So step number one of the framework I want to show you is this. Shhh.

Just give it two or three seconds after someone’s done saying what they want to say.

This is another skill you can practice outside of the office. Just give people a couple of beats. It’s really hard sometimes, but it’s a good skill.

So someone says, “I’m already using a vendor.…” This is what it sounds like…. That’s called silence.

Step 2: Diffuse (11:22)

Step number two. is we’re going to use what I like to call a diffuser. These are statements that you can commit to memory. And the purpose of them is just to slow you down a little bit so you don’t get into reaction and tug-of-war mode, so you don’t go on the defensive.

So let me give you a couple of examples of diffusers. And again, I’m not suggesting that you always use these. These are just some examples, and you can make them your own.

“I’m already using a vendor.”

“That’s okay.”

Just like that. That’s okay. People are not expecting that. They’re expecting you to go into defensive mode. So just by doing this alone, you’re going to just change the whole energy of the conversation, especially if you do it in a very calm way.

“That’s not a problem.”

Or

“Got it.”

Or

“That makes sense. I’d imagine a company with an inside sales team the size of yours already has a sales trainer.”

So that’s something that I would say if someone told me they’re already working with a sales trainer.

So, practice these diffusers, and commit some of them to memory, and try to just use them immediately when you hear an objection. It’s going to just slow you down a little bit. Okay.

Step 3: Encourage (12:33)

Step three. We’re going to encourage. We’re going to ask a little bit more about the objection.

“Hey, John noticed you’ve been selling for 16 years and you’ve got a track record of crushing it, and I’ve seen what you’ve done here with a bunch of your companies that you work with. So I’m just curious to get your take on this. What makes a great sales trainer? Like what’s your perspective on it?”

Now what am I doing here? A couple things. One, I’m seeking to understand, but I’m using a couple of other techniques here.

One of them is from a psychologist called Doctor Eric Burn. He created a book called Games People Play, which we won’t get into in this webinar, but I’m using something called positive stroking.

Notice I’m using language like track record of crushing it. I’m not doing this to manipulate. I’m doing this because I’m actually impressed with this prospect’s track record, and then I’m asking him to share his perspective.

“I’m curious to get your take on this.”

When we’re asking people for their opinion we’re genuinely interested in what they’re saying and we’re not faking it. I mean we’re really interested.

The way you show you’re interested is when they’re talking. You could say, “Oh my God, yeah, yeah.” You can kind of nod your head and be in it, but don’t fake it. Because if you fake it, it’s going to backfire on you.

When people feel like you’re interested in what they’re saying and they’re opening up, they’re just going to be more open to sharing and listening to what you have to say. This is a really important part of the framework.

You’ll notice when you listen to Howard Stern interviews, he has the luxury of talking to people for two or three hours. The longer he talks to them, the more they open up.

So this is, in a sense, doing the same thing. We’re asking some questions to deeper understand what they mean by what they like about a sales trainer.

This might go on for a little bit. I might say, “Tell me a little bit more about that.” I might repeat some of the last three words. I may ask some expansion questions if they’re saying something I want to learn a little bit more with. I kind of stay in this for a little bit.

Step 4: Repackage (14:26)

And then step number four. I’m going to repackage what they said in my own words a little bit, right?

I’m trying to express how I think they feel.

“Hey, you know, John, it sounds like the best sales trainers have an innate ability to relate to sales people quickly and authentically, and also to create environments where individuals learn from each other.”

So what I’m doing here is I’m trying to express what the prospect is thinking in their mind. And as Chris Voss says, “When you do this, oftentimes you’ll hear prospects say, ‘Yeah, that’s, that’s right, you got it. You understand me.'”

So, what are we not doing? We’re not trying to overcome anything.

Step 5: Respond (15:05)

The final step is to respond. And here’s an idea, anytime anyone’s using something — which they always will be on an outbound perspective — there’s always this concept of what’s possible. Most people always want to level up. We always want to better ourselves. It’s why you’re listening to this webinar.

So it’s not always about solving problems. Oftentimes people don’t want to talk about problems. Don’t call them a problem, call them challenges if you want to go down that route. But they also want to see what’s possible. Like what’s out there that I might not know about that can make me a better version of myself tomorrow than I am today.

People always want to upgrade themselves.

So here’s some phraseology we can use:

“Hey, given how much you know, John, I’m not sure if this is something you’d be interested in, but if you’re open to it, I can show you what other top performing teams are doing to book meetings with senior executives so you can compare it to what you’re doing now.”

Now let’s dissect this a little bit. What am I doing here? I am sharing some unbiased information with the prospect. That’s all I’m doing.

The prospect can decide for themselves if they would like to continue the conversation, because ultimately we can’t motivate people if they’re not motivated. We want to let the prospect be in control. And when people feel like they’re in control, the pressure is reduced.

Look at that first sentence, given how much you know. There’s a little bit of that positive stroking.

I’m not sure if this is something you’d be interested in.” That language is non-assumptive language. It’s the truth.

“If you’re open to it.” This is something you’re open to. I love that phraseology, if you’re open to it.

“I can show you what other teams are doing.”

“I can share with you some independent research.”

“I could share with you some unbiased information about X so that you can decide.”

“You can compare it to what you’re doing now, just to see if there’s opportunities beyond what you have right now.”

That language is going to really open things up, especially if people feel understood before you go to step five. And what you’ll hear oftentimes when you do this is, “Sure.” Because we’re not really playing tug of war, we’re just providing some independent information so that prospects can make up their own mind.

Objection Handling Process: Final Takeaways (17:22)

So again, the steps. Listen, diffuse, encourage, repackage and respond. That was one example. I do have an offer for you. I’ve actually done examples like this for the top, I think 20 or 25 objections that you’ll always hear. And I’ve included them in a book and a course on my site called Know Your Lines.

If you’re interested in it, go to academy.salesdna.co and check it out. Also on LinkedIn if you’d like to chat. And hopefully you found this helpful. Have a great day.

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