From Objection to Objective: 4 Steps to the Art of Reframing
Ask people to look at why something might work, as opposed to why it might not.
One of the most important parts of a sales call is maintaining a positive vibe in the face of objection. After all, few things can derail a potential sale faster than a client complaint that is not immediately addressed. But what is the best way to do that?
The answer lies within the skill of reframing: one the most intriguing of all sales skills. It applies to many areas of interaction, but we mainly apply it to objection resolution. The roots of reframing come from problem solving, and the best problem solvers use this skill instinctively. For example, if a meeting is underway and a promising idea is about to be rejected because it costs too much, the astute problem solver asks, “How can we reduce the cost?” Or, if a new initiative will take too long, she asks, “How can we get it done in less time?”
Successful problem solvers have a couple of useful approaches to conflicts that are especially helpful in a sales context:
- They approach conflicts as opportunities, not deal breakers.
- They look at ways to fix things, rather than fixate on the conflicts themselves.
The basic premise of reframing is that most objections are unfulfilled needs. In other words, we believe that no matter how firm and unyielding an objection may appear, it is actually just a need that hasn’t been addressed to the client’s satisfaction.
So when a client complains about a bad experience they had with you in the past, the reframe could be, “…you need to feel confident that what happened in the past won’t happen moving forward.”
Or, if they are reluctant to do business with you because of a problem, say, with your credit policy, the reframe could be, “…you need to see why it is in your best interest to work with us, even if we can’t comply with this particular request.”
When you reframe an objection, you are asking the client to look at the issue differently—in terms of why they are objecting. It is still about them, as always, but now you are asking them to think about their specific need that has yet to be addressed. If they agree that resolving this would make things better, you can assure them that you would like to try to do so to their satisfaction.
That is what reframing is all about—asking the other person to look at the issue differently. It asks people to look at why something might work, as opposed to why it might not. You are turning the objection into an objective, and in doing so it becomes resolvable.
Remember that you can’t reframe successfully without fully understanding the problem at hand and your approach to addressing it. This can be accomplished using the following steps:
- Ask the client plenty of questions about the problem first.
- When you reframe, use an “I” message to tell the client what you heard.
- When you rephrase the objection as a need, keep in mind how you will respond to it.
- Don’t express a need that you can’t address.
Reframing is a challenging skill, but luckily, it is also a learnable skill. Practice it and you will have another great tool in your toolbox—and your clients will appreciate it, too.
Can you remember a time when a quick reframe saved the day (and possibly even a sale) for you? Tell us the story in a comment!
This blog was originally published June 6, 2014 and was updated May 18, 2018 for accuracy.