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How to Prevent Objections in a Negotiation

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Whether you are pitching a sale or negotiating a deal with one of your suppliers, the other party will almost inevitably have an objection that can stop the discussion in its tracks. In transactional sales, potential customers become fixated on a specific issue, whether that is a missing feature or a price point that is higher than they would like. Often, these objections have no real bearing on the customer, but the customer is either looking for an excuse to put the conversation off until later or possibly even avoid the conversation entirely.

Potential negotiation partners get hung up for several reasons, from a genuine lack of interest in what the other party has to offer to other alternatives that may seem like a better fit. While Shapiro Negotiations can teach you and your team a variety of ways to effectively overcome these objections, sometimes it’s more effective to stop them before they become an issue.

 

Ask a lot of questions early on.

During a negotiation, knowing as much as possible about the other party’s interests and motivation can be a great advantage. If a negotiation feels adversarial or competitive from the start, the other person or group will often shut down communication in an attempt to “win.” Rather than a competition, a negotiation should feel like a collaborative effort, where both parties are working together to create the most beneficial outcome for everyone involved. For that to work, though, you need to know exactly what it is the people on the other side of the table want.

From the beginning, ask questions about goals, what is being done to achieve them, and then figure out where you fit in achieving those goals. Questions like “What is most important about [a particular aspect of the negotiation],” lead the other party to start talking about what they’re looking for and opening up more to possible solutions. Clarifying follow-up questions, like “Why is that important?” help you to narrow down exactly what they are looking for and tell you how to show you can help them to accomplish those goals.

 

Negotiate with people.

Once you know what the other side is looking for, it’s easy to over-focus on pushing that aspect. But remember that, in the end, you’re not only dealing with an organization, you’re negotiating specifically with the person or people sitting across from you. Try to figure out how this negotiation will benefit the individual or group you’re working with and cite specific examples.

 

Demonstrate genuine expertise in the field.

If you are offering a specialized service or product and a potential customer feels that you’re just a salesperson with no real knowledge of your product, you’re going to get very little benefit of doubt when you  attempt to persuade them of anything.. For example, if selling in the medical device industry, even someone who has extensive sales experience  will have little success if they’re not able to match that sales experience with medical knowledge.

It’s not enough to try and fake it, either. The people you are working with know their fields, and they will be able to spot a phony the instant you open your mouth. Study the subject so that you know it backwards and forwards. Then, rather than seeming ignorant and ruining your credibility with the customer, you will build that credibility by showing that you are an expert.

 

Make sure the person you are working with has the authority to make decisions.

One of the most popular objections customers like to throw out is that they’ll have to ask their supervisor, since they’re not the one who makes the decisions about your product. We call this “higher authority” and it can be real, a tactic, or both.  Right from the outset, make sure that the person with whom you’re negotiating is the person who can actually make the decision. Even if you’re able to come to an agreement with the other party, if they’re not able to back that agreement up with the proper authority, you’re going to need to start the whole process from the beginning once you get to the person who is actually authorized to make decisions. That doesn’t mean that you should be rude or ignore a gatekeeper, however. This person can turn into either an ally or an adversary as you negotiate with the next person in line, so always be sure to treat everyone you encounter along the way with respect. We recommend, early on, asking questions like “What is your decision-making process?” in order to gain that valuable information without offending anyone.

 

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If handled properly, you can overcome most objections put before you, but often, it’s even more effective to never encounter those objections at all. By asking the right questions, knowing your audience, and putting in the proper research, you can avoid potential pitfalls before they even occur and find a clear path to a successful negotiation.

Successful Sales Goes Beyond What You Say

Jeff Cochran

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So much of sales training focuses on what you say and how you say it that many people forget to think about body language. First impressions, posture, and microexpressions all factor into sales communications. To succeed, sales people must come across as approachable, credible, and confident.

 

Why Does Body Language Matter?

 A great product will sell itself, but it will not always eliminate the need for effective sales. Today, the average consumer can choose from at least two or three viable competitors who meet their needs in the marketplace. In these cases, the only thing standing between your company and competitors is the sales interaction.

From the moment you enter a consumer’s field of vision, you’re influencing sales – even if you never directly speak to the individual. Consider your own experience with sales and the sales people you automatically like and trust compared to those who leave you with a feeling of unease. That gut feeling of insecurity often arises from nonverbal communication cues, like a shrug here or a diverted glance there.

 

Tips for Improving Body Language

 Practice strong body language everywhere. In addition to an effective sales tool, body language can change your experience at the grocery store checkout line, when you greet your neighbors during a morning jog, and when you walk into a job interview. Actively practice a few of these techniques for a week. You may find they change your attitude, feelings of self-confidence, and your verbal communication, too.

1. Stand up straight. While appearing as a stoic and straight-backed British royal guard is unnecessary, standing up straight shows confidence and openness.

2. Practice your handshake. The handshake is not obsolete. People will still judge you for a clasp that is too tight or limp. This first physical connection can immediately impart notions of credibility and confidence to others. Make it count.

3. Stay natural and upbeat. Salespeople often exaggerate their smiles, responses, and hand gestures in an effort to come across as approachable. Consumers can easily see a fake and phony performance a mile away. You’re a unique person. Discover what works for you. Pay attention to the way you talk with your closest friends – that is your genuine self and often the best way to connect with strangers.

4. Listen actively. Avoid feigning interest. If you can’t focus on what someone says when you’re looking directly into his or her eyes, then don’t. Look up occasionally, but take notes, ask questions, and stay engaged in the dialogue first. If you focus too much on coming across as accessible, you may miss a key customer motivation.

5. Read your customers’ body language, too. While prospects are making snap judgments about you, you are almost certainly making judgments about them even if you don’t realize it. If you feel uncomfortable, insecure, or incapable of meeting the needs of a client, pass off the communication to someone who does feel comfortable.

 

Much happens in the average sales communication. Those who can balance verbal and nonverbal communication with a number of different client personalities will excel in any negotiation. Effective sales training means practicing as many body language tactics with others as you can to find the behaviors that work best for you.

Psychological Concepts Influencers Need to Know

Jeff Cochran

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Influence is essentially a person’s ability to effect change in another. Ethical influencing is not manipulation. It is effective communication that resonates with others. If you understand the psychology behind influence and persuasion, you can build rapport with anyone and meet your goals in any industry.

 

Understanding Influence

Influencers amass hundreds of followers on social media. They win elections. They serve their communities, shape young minds, and build companies. Anyone can act as an influencer. In fact, everyone can benefit from understanding the psychology of influence. The concept dates back to ancient history, and many psychologists, self-help gurus, and businessmen have developed their own tactics from the basic understanding of communication.

 

Aristotle’s Rhetoric

At SNI, our understanding of influencing and our program dates back to Aristotle’s teachings in 350 BC. The wise ancient Greek philosopher dissected the psychology of influence into three different elements – ethos (character or credibility), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic). To successfully win over an audience, a person must establish credibility, appeal to the audience’s emotion or perspective, and appeal to the audience’s sense of reason.

The next time you listen to someone deliver a speech, listen out for these elements. Most political candidates and public speakers will address all three elements over the course of the communication. Once established, an influencer may only need to appeal to emotion and logic to effect changes in thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

Today, many professionals sell their own methodologies and understanding of influence. However, every program and book that promises results today originates from the fundamental teachings that Aristotle imparted so long ago.

 

Influencing Tactics

If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your own ability to appeal to the ethos, pathos, and logos of an audience, consider some of these popularly used techniques and ideas:

  • Conversion theory. First posited by psychologist Serge Moscovici, conversion theory states that a consistent, seemingly unbiased, and vocal minority can have an uneven effect on the beliefs and actions of the majority. An example of real world use of conversion theory is women’s suffrage in the early 1900s. The theory teaches us that you don’t need a popular or majority-backed concept to effect change.
  • Reciprocity norm. Reciprocity is the societal understanding that we should return favors. If someone offers an appetizer on the house, a diner may reciprocate the gesture and leave a larger tip. If someone buys you a gift for your birthday, you may feel obligated to do the same for that person. These returned niceties are acceptable and often expected behaviors in society and can help influencers create a desired behavior in an individual or an audience.
  • Priming. The concept of priming speaks to the subconscious influence we have on one another. Someone can use word associations and representations to encourage another to reach a certain conclusion on his or her own. For example, a clever magician might use this tactic to suggest a certain card or location during a trick setup.

The art of influencing includes many other tactics, but these three represent the range of techniques influencers can use to secure a better dining table, encourage public action, or strengthen a business relationship. With understanding and practice, anyone can learn the art of influencing.

Putting the “We” in Team

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While it’s long been said that “many hands make light work,” a team is more than just a group of people working on the same task. For a team to truly succeed, the individuals need to develop a cohesive bond that allows them to work in synch with each other. Even after you’ve assembled the right people for the job, your work isn’t done. Crafting a team is an active, ongoing process. An efficient team is like a complex machine, and like any other machine, it requires maintenance.

Outline clear roles for each team member.

One of the best ways to build team unity is to make it clear what each team member’s role is. Build a specific process that your team members follow when performing regular tasks, and make each team member’s part in that process very clear. This helps to prevent a situation where one team member ends up doing all the work, which can foster resentment. The other team members may be performing other crucial job functions, but even the feeling of unfairly getting stuck with work that should be divided can lead to a toxic environment. Make sure your team members understand what their role is, as well as the roles of their coworkers, if possible.

Make sure every member of the team feels valued.

In addition to ensuring that team members are aware of their roles, they should also recognize the value they bring to the team. According to a Gallup poll, the number one reason Americans leave their jobs is because they don’t feel that they are appreciated. This certainly includes paying them a fair wage, but it goes beyond that.

When you meet with your team, you should encourage feedback. Make sure that everyone is included in the process and has the opportunity to speak. They don’t have to speak up all the time—in fact, some team members may prefer not to—but it’s important that they know they’re welcome to add to the discussion and that their feedback will be given fair consideration.

Actively listen to your team’s recommendations, as well. Even if you disagree with an idea or suggestion, don’t just dismiss it out of hand. Give it fair consideration. If a team member feels that his or her thoughts are being ignored, it can lead to a toxic environment and damage the team’s cohesion.

Train your team, and revisit that training. (Just once won’t cut it.)

Teams evolve over time. Key team members leave, new workers are hired, dynamics shift, and over time, you can end up with a completely team than you started with. Turnover is particularly common within a sales team, which is why it’s crucial to train them on a regular basis. New employees of any type need to be shown the way things are done within your organization, but veteran team members also often need a course correction. Whether it’s sales management training to unite your team around the best way to move a lead through the sales pipeline or a refresher course on workflow management, training your team helps to ensure that everyone is at the top of their game.

Monitor and discuss team dynamics.

As a manager, it’s your job to keep an eye on the business process, but it’s also one of your key responsibilities to be aware of the dynamics between your team members. Take note of what is working and what is not.

When you meet with your team members as a group, have open discussions about how you can solve problems the team is having. Don’t use the time to criticize each other or whine about circumstances—use the meetings as opportunities to solve the problem together. Encourage discussions, and recognize positive team achievements.

Meet with your team members individually, as well. Sometimes, there are things a worker doesn’t want to say in a group setting, but they will often open up in a more private environment. Take note of your workers’ concerns and address those concerns.

Hopefully, over time, your team members will learn to communicate better and grow to trust one another. Healthy communication is at the heart of any effective team, and encouraging that communication is one of your most important jobs. Invest the effort into facilitating a conversation among all members of your team and they’ll start to come through for you and, perhaps more importantly, for each other.