In March 2014, I posted the Top 7 Negotiating Tips on the NNJF Blog. I was hoping to help a few Nukes be able to negotiate for higher salaries, or to just make your life easier as all of life is one constant negotiation.
I want to update that article because I didn’t talk about a lot of the tactics used to close a negotiation. The first article mostly talks about the beginning portions of a negotiation.
Closing the Sale
In any negotiation, whether it is a sale, an argument with your boss, or just trying to convince yourself that you have the ability to accomplish something, there is always a point where you have to close the deal. Closing is usually about answering objections, and the biggest point I learned between now and writing that first article is that you should always question the objections.
So many times we just take “no” for an answer, when we should instead be asking “why” in the most tactful way possible.
Some of you may be familiar with the 6 Step Objection Process. I wish I knew this back when I was in the Navy, because so many times I would get a raw deal from a Chief or First Class, and I would just accept it instead of knowing how to elicit a reasonable discussion on the matter. Sometimes it’s hard to question people without also pissing them off. Enter the 6 Step Objection Proces.
The 6 Step Objection Process:
- Empathize with the objector. “I understand. Thank you for being up front with me.”
- Question the objection. “Obviously you have a good reason for feeling that way, would you mind telling me what it is?“
- Isolate the objection. “So you are upset because ________“
- Empathize again & ask a clearing question. “That would upset me to. If I could (answer the objection), would you (do something more agreeable)?“
- Answer the objection. “Great, how about we try this instead.“
- Ask for a commitment. “Does that work for you?“
NOTES: The most important thing I learned here is to ALWAYS question the objection. I had been treating every objection as if it were the gospel, but it’s really just an opening negotiation tactic by the other person (whether that’s your customer, your boss, or your wife).
If you have an hour to spare, you can watch this Brian Tracy video on answering objections. There is a lot of psychology behind the Objection Process. Or you could bookmark this page and come back when you have more time.
Asking for a Raise
You can use the 6 step objection process for just about anything, but here is an example when asking for a raise.
You: Boss, I’d like to talk to you about a 15% raise this year.
Boss: I’m sorry, it’s just not in the budget.
You: I understand what you’re saying. Thank you for being up front with me. Obviously you have a good reason for saying that, would you mind telling me what it is?
Boss: Well Corporate has really been on us this year because our department is not meeting our quarterly goals.
You: Oh, now I understand where you’re coming from. It’s kind of difficult to get a raise approved when we are not meeting our goals, right? What if I could show you how my contribution to the company is actually helping to meet our goals next quarter, would that make it easier for you to get my raise approved then?
Boss: Well…sure, if you could do that they would be more likely to approve your raise.
You: So you’re saying if I could show you how my contributions help to make our quarterly goals, you’d give me a raise.
Boss: Yes, if you could do that.
You: Great, I’ll send my production numbers to you next quarter and you can take them to Corporate when you get my raise approved. Does that work for you?
Boss: Well…I don’t know…
You: C’mon, why don’t you just give it a try?
What’s the Point?
Obviously this is an “ideal” situation and most negotiations will not go this easily. But the major point is to question the objection. And the reason you question the objection is because you want to isolate the objection. Once you pin them down to one thing, then you know what you are fighting against, and it is easier for you to find an answer.
In the example above, “it’s not in the budget” could mean anything. You could spend the next quarter fixing any myriad of problems, and never have addressed the actual problem. After questioning the objection, and isolating the objection, you at least leave the meeting knowing that all you have to do to get a raise is meet your quotas next quarter.
No matter what they say, you should always question the objection and attempt to isolate the objection so that you can answer it.
My Favorite Objection
As a business owner, the objections I hear most are “it costs too much,” and “I want to think it over.” I use the 6 Step Objection Process to get past those objections.
However, back when I was an employee, the objection I heard the most always stemmed from the fact that people are afraid of change. They have always done it that way, they don’t want to change, and nobody wants to look at your new idea even though the old way just isn’t working.
So, here is the “afraid of change objection.”
Them: It’s too much hassle to change.
You: I understand. What is it about the change that frightens you?
Them: Blah, blah, blah, objection…
You: Suppose we could (handle that objection completely), would you give it a try?
Them: Sure, if you could (handle that objection).
You: So if we could __________________, you’d give it a try?
You: Great, let’s do this _______________________. Does that make sense?
Them: Yeah, I guess that makes sense.
You: Awesome, if you have no more questions, then the next step is to __________.
“Suppose we could?” is a very strong question, and can be used to brush aside just about any objection. If you ever get stuck on any objection, just use this “Suppose we could handle that objection to your complete satisfaction (even if you have no idea how to handle that objection, probably someone in our network does), would you take it? They say yes, you say great, let’s do this blah blah blah, does that make sense?
What Not To Do (or what I used to do)
If someone says, “Go suck an egg, your idea doesn’t work,” the temptation is always to rush into an explanation defending your idea and trying to convince them that it’s the best thing ever.
This is the worst tactic to take because it makes things personal. Now somebody has to be wrong and somebody has to be right. And NOBODY ever wants to admit that they are wrong, so they can never admit that you are right. Whenever you push someone, they have to push back. So release the need to always be right, and start empathizing.
Empathizing and questioning the objection is a tactic used by people who have a certain level of social intelligence (something that is sometimes lacking amongst Navy Nukes).
You simply politely question the objection, “Obviously you have a great reason for feeling that way, would you mind telling me what it is?” Then they are going to give you one thing to fix, they are going to give you information that allows you to isolate that objection so that you don’t have to defend the entire pantheon of possible causes to their reason for feeling that way, you just have to answer their one objection to your idea.
Answer the objection, ask if that makes sense, then ask for some kind of commitment. If they say, “Well, I’d still like to think it over,” then you just go right back through the process, “No problem, obviously you have a good reason for wanting to think it over, would you mind telling me what it is?”