Here’s a great story.
A few days ago I visited our local pastor. He’s like the ideal grandfather. Old, old-fashioned, always a friendly smile.
Can you picture it?
I didn’t expect to learn how to overcome my prospect’s objections during this short visit.
But when he started talking, I was blown away.
The old pastor had a challenge to convince my son Frenk to be interested in taking the Holy Communion.
However, there’s a problem. Frenk is a “screenager”. Married to his iPad and if I say something wrong, it’s “Daaaddddd, duhhhh”.
You know what I mean…
So, I was looking forward to the session with the friendly pastor. I was curious to see if he would be able to convince Frenk. He isn’t a baby anymore who you can just sprinkle with baptised water and then call him God’s child.
Because Frenk has to agree first….
And Frenk had his doubts: “Dad, is this really necessary?”
Good luck, mister pastor….
So, the pastor took off. Where I expected a tedious hour, I was impressed. Really impressed.
Because he used a technique that can only be used when you really understand your potential clients.
The pastor knew that if he wanted to make Frenk believe what he was going to say, he had to take away Frenk’s objections. Because otherwise he’d never say: “Yes, the Holy Communion is important to me”.
And it turned out that mister pastor knew his prospect’s objections all too well. It became very clear to me that this old and friendly man was a real persuasion-master. Here’s how he wiped the objections away:
Objection 1: Does God even exist? I’ve never seen him
The toughest I guess. However, the pastor had an answer which refuted the objection in no-time.
This is what he said:
“You’ve also never seen trust, but it does exist. You trust your mom and dad, and they trust you. You can’t see it, but you know it’s there.
It’s the same with love. You can’t see it, but you know it’s there. Your mom and dad love you. You know that, but you can’t see it.”
This man had learned quite a bit about psychology in half a century. So, I sat up, because he moved on to objection number two.
Objection 2: Faith isn’t important
How he refuted this one, was beautiful. The pastor asked:
“Do you know how long it has been since Jesus died?”
Next question: “What year is it now?”
Pastor: “Did you know that 2015 years ago our era began because Jesus was born back then?”
Frenk: Breathless and thinking: “That’s impressive.”
The pastor used one of the “weapons of influence” professor Robert Cialdini wrote about in his bestselling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition. I’m talking about the “authority-weapon”. Because the era is something everybody uses, so Jesus must be important.
Objection 3: I don’t know anyone who is a catholic
Also here the pastor used one of Robert Cialdini’s weapons: social proof. He started with a question:
“How many people are here on earth?”
Frenk screamed: “100,000 million!”
The pastor laughed: “You’re almost right Frenk. It’s 7 billion. But let me ask you this: “Did you know that out of those 7 billion people, 2 million believe in the catholic faith?”
Frenk: “WOW……that’s a lot.”
What the pastor was doing
Now, the pastor probably didn’t read Robert Cialdini’s book to convince children to believe in the catholic faith. Neither did he consciously use a persuasion-technique. However, the 2000 year old catholic church does win the souls of their “prospects” in a way you also see with top salespeople.
By removing their secret objections.
Although Frenk didn’t tell the pastor about his objections, the friendly pastor already KNEW about Frenks’ objections because he really UNDERSTOOD his target audience.
He addressed the objections, and them took them away. So that Frenk was instantly convinced.
Now, let’s take this back to you.
You might know about your prospect’s objections too. For example, you might know that most people don’t understand the real benefits of financial planning.
But let me ask you this: Have you ever had a prospect in your office that said: “I don’t understand the benefits of your service?”
I guess not. And why is that?
Because people hate to admit that they don’t know. Because that would be like saying: “Hey, I’m dumb.”
However, the thing is: they do think it.
They do think: “What’s in it for me?” or “How is this service going to help me?”
Therefore, wouldn’t it be a delightful surprise for your prospect that you take his or her secret suspicions away? So that they can feel safe and move on?
Because if you don’t overcome these objections, it might harden into a statement. Which is suicide for engaging your prospects and growing your business.
The question is: How?
Well, here’s the answer: By telling an I-Know-What-You-Are-Thinking-Story.
As Annette Simmons points out in her brilliant book Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact you need to use an I-Know-What-You-Are-Thinking-Story to overcome objections when they are still soft – merely a “sneaking suspicion”.
I-Know-What-You-Are-Thinking-Stories not only overcome unspoken objections without coming off as oppositional but may actually validate the objection as reasonable in the first place.
You see, humans hunger for validation. It doesn’t cost you a thing, and most of the time you get tangible concessions in return.
However, failing to validate another’s point of view can cost you twice the time, money, or effort you might otherwise spend with this person.
Validation is the primary dynamic of the I-Know-What-You-Are-Thinking-Story. This kind of story validates a parked opinion with a “get out of parking free” stamp that frees a former opponent to move away from a parked opinion without feeling like it cost them their dignity.
If you don’t validate another’s perceptions as legitimate, your story can leave people feeling insulted, ignored or both.
Therefore it is vital that you first understand and communicate your understanding of your prospect’s secret objections. If you move too quickly, you lose a very important leverage point that could otherwise help you build a sense of common ground.
How To Tell Your Story To Overcome Your Prospect’s Secret Objections
Let’s go back to the pastor. Remember when he asked Frenk if he knew that out of 7 billion people, 2 billion already believe in the catholic faith?
The pastor was sending a really powerful message. Why?
Because he was using “social proof” (2 billion people).
But there’s another important consideration that’s powerful here. It concerns the framing of the story. And it’s about revealing how common, or uncommon, the behavior you’re advocating is.
For example: Should the pastor highlight the positive aspects of those who believe in the catholic faith (2 billion) or would it be more effective if he instead emphasized the negative aspects of those who don’t (5 billion)?
According to psychologist Hart Blanton, the successful framing of your story will depend on your audience’s perceptions of the relevant social norms. It turns out that the more common the audience perceive some kind of social norm (such as believing in catholic faith), the more they are influenced by a story that negatively depicts those who do not believe in catholic faith.
Now, the pastor knew that his audience (my son Frenk) didn’t know many people who are believers in the catholic faith. So, the social norm is uncommon. Or in other words: in Frenk’s world most people don’t believe in the catholic faith thus they have a negative perception. This means that when the pastor frames his story to accentuate the positive characteristics, the story has a more powerful effect on your prospect.
And the pastor did right. Because he framed his story around the 2 billion people who do believe in the catholic faith instead of the 5 billion people who don’t.
Again, let’s take this back to you.
Let’s say that one of your target audience’s secret objections is that people don’t trust financial planners. So, in this case the social norm here is uncommon. Or in other words: in todays world most people don’t trust financial planners, which is a negative perception.
This means that your story is far more effective if you frame it in a positive way.
Something like: “People who hire me feel more confident about their own future” instead of “If you don’t hire me, you won’t feel secure about your own future.”
Now, you might need some help with framing your story.
Here’s What To Do Next
The first step is to identify hidden objections held by your target audience. Most of the time, it doesn’t even require research. Because you probably already know what “secret” objections your prospects hold against you and your service. And that’s what I’d like to ask you about.
And if you help me, I’ll help you to remove one of your prospect’s biggest objections for hiring you. Here’s the objection:
What is financial planning? I don’t know how I can benefit from it
So, if you want to know how to instantly remove this important objection, please answer the following question:
What’s the biggest secret objection YOUR prospects have about your financial planning service?
Please, answer this question by leaving your comment – here below – and you’ll receive the link to a free PDF where I show you How To Instantly Remove The “I-Don’t-Know-What-The-Benefit-Of-Financial-Planning-Is-Objection”
Thank you for your comment.
Let’s make financial planning matter.