Oh Yea? Says You!
So the other day I was having an argument with a friend of mine. Not really an argument, although it could have easily turned into one if either one of us had a hugely vested interested in our opinions, which we both agreed were merely opinions. We’d argued/discusses several issues at length enough times to know that pretty much either issue we choose, it’s fairly easy to shoot holes in each others arguments, and we almost always end up agreeing to disagree.
One of the things we do sometimes is to play devils advocate one each other, if that’s even the right term. We pick an issue, an issue that we disagree on, and which is highly controversial, such as gun control, or abortion, or animal rights, and argue the opposite that we normally would.
I actually met this guy several years ago in a sales seminar, and that was one of the ways they taught us to overcome objections, was to put yourself in the customers shoes, and come up with as many objections as possible. The seminar itself was based on the overcoming objections part of the sales process. One of the things we learned was that the best way to overcome an objection is to not only defeat it, but to bring it up before the other person even thinks about it. In technical terms this is called “pre framing” as opposed to “re framing.” When you reframe something, you take an already stated objection, and try to twist it around so it’s not such a big objection. The problem with this is that many times, by the time the person has formulated the though well enough to present a coherent objection, they’ve usually been thinking about it for a while, and it’s pretty well entrenched in their mind.
So a great way to get rid of objections is to simply reframe them before they come up, or preframe them. That way when the client starts to formulate the thought that would have otherwise turned into an objection, instead they’ll think what you want them to think.
Here’s a great example that I witnessed in real time, several years ago. While you may object to the content of my example, the structure of how the particular objection in question was handled before it came up was particularly elegant. I was eating dinner at a restaurant with a group of guys. One of the guys, who was around 40 years old at the time, liked the younger ladies. He wouldn’t date anyone older than mid twenties. (If you find this distasteful, please press on. The example lies in the structure, not the content.)
At the time of this incident, the TV show ER was really popular, and starred George Clooney, who was the latest heartthrob. I believe at the time Clooney was late thirties. So my friend was flirting with this young waitress. I don’t think he intended to actually follow throw, he was just practicing his “game,” so to speak.
They were flirting back and forth, with eye contact, and conversations that lasted jut a tad bit longer than your normal waitress/customer interaction. He asked what she did when she wasn’t waitressing. She mentioned that she was in nursing school. He smiled and said, “Oh, you want to be like on ER, right?” And she blushed, as it was obvious that she liked that show, and at least entertained the idea of being a glamorous nurse like on TV.
So my friend, noticed a golden opportunity to preframe the “how old are you” question, that younger girls sometimes ask seemingly older guys. While she was still smiling about the thought of being a nurse “like” on ER, my friend says:
“Me and George Clooney have the same birthday.”
Now if she fantasized at all about being a nurse on ER, she surely fantasized, at least a little bit, about George Clooney. And my friend put himself in that same category in her mind. If he decided to pursue this girl (he didn’t,) and the age question ever began to arise in her mind, she would remember him having the same age as George Clooney, and of course she wouldn’t have a problem with George Clooney, so the age question was deflected and dismantled before it ever came up.
When I asked him later on how he was able to think in the moment like that, and preframe a pretty powerful objection right there on the spot, in real time, he told me it was simply through practice. He had dated quite few younger girls, and they would inevitably come up with the same questions. So what he did was to write out all the questions he got over and over, on some business size cards. And everyday, while he was taking the train to work, he would flip through the cards, look at the questions, and think of the best way to answer them that would respect the questioner, and also put himself in the best possible light.
He said that after he did that for a while, he began to see the questions coming long before they were ever actually expressed verbally, and easily preframe them. After a while, they never, ever came up again, and he enjoyed much more success (take that however you will) with his pursuit of dating younger girls.
In that sales seminar I went to, they taught us the same thing. To make a list of all the objections you get on a regular basis, and figure out the best way to answer so that you’re not disregarding or disrespecting your client, but you’re also putting your product or your service in the best possible light.
If you take the time to actually write down the objections you get the most, and practice going over some possible answers, you’ll find that they begin to come up more and more, and you’ll even be preframing them conversationally without even realizing it. To the untrained eye, they will seem to have magically disappeared.
Another thing we learned at the seminar was a way to increase mental flexibility and open mindedness. And that was through purposely arguing a point that you don’t believe in, with a willing partner. Take an issue, like some of the ones I’ve listed above, find a willing partner, and choose opposite sides that you’d normally take, and let the battle begin.
Use all your skills of persuasion and sales to convince the other person, while resisting their argument (which is the way you really feel). Do this few times and you’ll never look at the same old issues again.
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