“I’m sorry – I can’t talk to you right now.”  “I have to ask my boss.” “I don’t have the time.”  “Wow, that’s expensive.”  Every great salesperson knows that they will hear objections.  In fact, many salespeople relish them because they know that they are getting somewhere when they can respond to the target’s concerns. 

During sales training, people are taught to both anticipate objections, and to have pre-planned responses to them which can steer the conversation back toward success.  This is called overcoming or conquering objects.  It’s a three-step process that creates confidence and a better likelihood of getting the sale.

As we go forth into 2021, many of us are setting up our budgets or teeing up our needs and wants for the upcoming year. We need to get senior leadership to say yes – to buy-in to the program and its success.  Here is a step-by-step program for using objections to help you get to “yes.”

Step 1:  Before You Start the Conversation, Forecast the Objections

Whether you’re going for a raise, more responsibility, the ability to buy a technology solution, or for the senior executives to endorse training, there are frequently going to be objections.  You can anticipate objections including (1) the budget is already set for the year, (2) there is a hiring freeze, (3) senior executives are too busy to spend time endorsing the program, and (4) with COVID, they have other more pressing priorities. 

Write down all of the likely objections and, just for fun, include some that are unlikely.  Think about what you’ve heard previously as well as what may come up in the current climate. 

Step 2: Plan and Practice Your Response to Each

Plan a response to each objection so that you can be persuasive.  Let’s say that you need budget for a third-party review platform so you can conduct anti-bribery due diligence. A likely objection is that it is too expensive.  Knowing that, prepare your response. 

Think about how the tool could help multiple departments.  Perhaps the tool can be used by your Trade Compliance and/or Import/Export departments for automated sanctions review with continuous monitoring?  Perhaps it can also help Legal with third-party contracts management if the contracts are uploaded to the third-party’s record?  Perhaps it will help Procurement to keep records and to do adverse media reviews on a broad range of vendors?  Perhaps the Corporate Social Responsibility department can use the adverse media reviews to vet third-parties for CSR risk? And if all of that is true…perhaps the budget for the solution can be split between the departments?

Once you’ve thought through your responses to likely objections, practice your response out loud.  If it comes off clumsy, try again.  Keep practicing until it is easy to make a confident response.  When you’re practicing, imagine the decision-maker in front of you.  You’ll be more prepared for the real-life scenario if you practice it proactively.

Step 3:  Disarm the Objector with Agreement

How you deliver your responses to objections can be critical to whether you are able to conquer them.  One of the best ways to deliver a response is to start by agreeing with the objector.  For our due diligence solution, perhaps start with, “You’re absolutely right, it would be too expensive if it were just for the Compliance department.  But actually, the solution can save us money and serve not only Compliance, but also the Legal, Trade Compliance, Import/Export, Procurement, and the Corporate Social Responsibility departments.  In fact, it works even better than the solution already in place for contract management, so it may actually save us money.” 

Overcoming objections is all about anticipating what the person will say and having a plan to help the person see why your request is in their best interest.  Who could object to that?