In which we propose collaborating as an alternative to overcoming.
Teenager standing in kitchen. 9:00 pm. Car keys in hand. Preparing to go out with friends.
Parent: “No, it’ll keep you out too late.”
Teenager: “No, it won’t. I don’t have to be at work tomorrow until 9:00; I can sleep later in the morning.”
Parent: “It’s still too late and, not only that, I don’t like the idea of your hanging around with Ed and John.”
Teenager: “I don’t understand why you’re always ‘on’ about them. They’re fine. They aren’t rocket scientists, but they’re nice kids and I like them.”
Parent: “They’re trouble. They’ve always been trouble. That will rub off on you if you associate with them. Anyway, what you’re proposing will cost too much money.”
Teenager: “What are you worried about? I have plenty of money in my account and, besides, as you’ve told me many times, it’s my money and I have to be responsible for it.”
Standard strategy for overcoming objections, right? Dispute the other person’s point, offer benefits favoring our point, and persist until the other person capitulates.
Naw, we’re professionals; we don’t do that. Don’t be silly. We’ve professionalized it so it sounds like this:
Acknowledge: “I hear you don’t want me to go out because you’re concerned I’ll be tired.”
Empathize: “I can understand why you’d feel that way. You want me to get enough rest.”
Clarify: “What are your specific concerns about the situation tonight?”
Position Benefits of our Solution to Address the Concerns: “Well, we’ll be back by midnight, there’s a group of people going so that Ed and John won’t be a problem, and we’re thinking pizza, it’ll cost me less than $10.00, and Mary’s dad is bringing her, he’s a police officer, that’ll help, too.”
Ask for the Business Again: “Assuming you’re comfortable with those arrangements, are you ready to say I can go?”
Professionalized but… um… the same pattern. “What are you concerned about?…Here’s why that shouldn’t be a concern… Can we move forward now?”
This strategy is not really about “clarifying.” It’s about overcoming – winning a victory over, dominating by superior force or numbers, overpowering in thought or feeling. With the shield or on it, baby! We ask questions to find chinks in the buyer’s logic armor and then shoot our benefit arrows so they strike home and the buyer capitulates. That’s what overcoming obstacles is about, right?
What if we changed the mindset from “overcoming” to “collaborating?” What if we said we would “Collaborate on the Concern” rather than “Overcome the Objection?” What could collaboration sound like?
Well, we’re not goofy enough to think that the aforementioned teenager or even its parent would use this model at 9:00 at night after their respective long days dealing with morons. However, as sentient adults, earlier in the day, working with other sentient adults, it could begin something like this:
“Ok, well, if those are the constraints you’re facing, let’s put our heads together to figure out what combinations of strategies could work. How would ….”
“Collaborating” comes from confidence, serving, and compassion. We ask questions to help buyers figure out how to move forward on their own terms, not to manipulate them to capitulate to ours. We ask buyers to look at their challenges in different ways and to consider issues they might not have anticipated and resolve them, thus accelerating their decisions so they say, “This is helpful, I hadn’t looked at things that way before.”
“Collaborating” leads to relationship, connection, and respect, while “overcoming” leads to “you never listen to me, you don’t care what I think, you just want to have your way …. blah blah blah.”
Y’all have a good time tonight, y’hear?