“Objections are used in an attempt to see what one can obtain. Before addressing objections know what you want and what you’re willing to forgo to acquire what you need.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
I’ve addressed hundreds of thousands of objections over the course of my negotiation career. Objections should be addressed with the mindset of information gathered about the party with whom you’re negotiating; that includes silent partners that are not at the negotiation table, foils that might be aligned with your negotiation opponent to perform nefarious functions, the demeanor of the negotiator(s), and the culture of the negotiator’s organization. Such insights, along with reading one’s body language, will lend credence to the validity and viability of the person making objections during a negotiation. That, in turn, will allow you to discern how important an objection is, versus it being a possible ploy, created to distract you from something that is more beneficial to your position.
Before addressing objections, always be aware of the attempts of others on the opposing negotiator’s team to hype them; remember, these attempts could stem from people that are not at the negotiation table. Hyping objections can be in the form of giving them the appearance of being more valuable or dire than they are, for the purpose of gaining insight into how you might react to such attempts. Keeping that in mind, follow the steps below when addressing objections in your negotiations.
1. When the first objection is posed, assess its veracity to determine if you should address it at all. If the other negotiator insists upon having it addressed, note his body language before proceeding to the next step. In particular, you should observe if he looks directly at you with a smile or scowl, if he looks through you as though he’s in a daze, or if he makes such a request in a timid manner. In all such cases, appraise the degree to which any of these gestures might be ploys.
a.) Looking directly at you is a sign that he’s focused. A smile can indicate that he wants to convey a friendly/casual perspective. A scowl may be an indication of a more serious projection and/or one to set the stage to take his request more seriously.
b.) Looking through you in a daze could imply that his mind is somewhere else and the fact that he’s testing you as a ploy.
c.) Making the request in a timid manner could belie the fact that he doesn’t possess a strong demeanor. He might also be examining you to see if you’ll attempt to take advantage of his docile demeanor.
2. Ask the other negotiator to cite all of his objections. Your goal is to get them out in the open. Do this by requesting what else he’s concerned about. If warranted, have him detail why he thinks his objections are valid. Observe hidden insights gleaned from his body language and nonverbal signals, as mentioned in step 1. By doing this, you’ll gain a sense of direction he has for the negotiation.
3. Once you’ve garnered enough insights about the purpose and value he has for citing his objections, have him prioritize them. Then, address one that’s lower on his priority list to see if that has more weight than disclosed. Couple this tactic with the outcome you seek for the negotiation. Continue this process to the successful conclusion of the negotiation.
In any negotiation, you should know what you’re dealing with before you attempt to deal with it. Such is the case when dealing with objections. Thus, by implementing the suggestions above, you’ll be better positioned to keep in check those objections intended to dissuade your attention from what’s more important. That, in turn, will allow you to be more laser focused on addressing the real objections that will impact the negotiation … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com
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