To close a sale, you just have to overcome every objection, right?

Wrong, says Bob Burg, author of Adversaries into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion. If your goal is to overcome objections, don’t be surprised if your prospect says that they “need to think it over.”

“To them, there’s something that isn’t quite right,” says Bob. “And the reason why is because typically…the objection itself isn’t the issue. In fact, often the prospect doesn’t know what their true objection is.”

So how do you figure out their true objection?

Turn yourself into their ally. “You do that by…understanding what it is they need, want, and desire,” says Bob.

In his Mixergy course, Bob shows you how to become anyone’s ally so you can close more sales and form better partnerships. Here are three highlights from the course.

1. Learn How to Defuse a Bomb

It’s never easy to be criticized or insulted, but there’s a way to silence your critics.

Bob gives the example of Abraham Lincoln, who was often insulted by critics who considered him weak. Sometimes he was even asked to comment on those criticisms.

“One time he was approached by a reporter who told him how a fellow member of the government had criticized him,” says Bob. “[And the reporter wanted to know] what did the President have to say about that.”

So how do you respond to insults and criticism?

Don’t give them a rebuttal

Take the energy out of the insult.

“[Lincoln] knew how to deflect,” says Bob. “He knew how to take criticism and really deflect it and take the energy out of the criticism.”

To the reporter, “Lincoln said, ‘Hey, you know, I have a great deal of respect for that man. If
he feels there’s a problem, it’s certainly something that needs to be considered,’” says Bob. “He didn’t insult the other person. He didn’t act offensive. It’s that sort of thing that really endeared people to him.”

2. It’s Not All About You

Sometimes people just have an ax to grind.

For instance, Bob was in a Toronto airport, on his way to a speaking engagement, when he was questioned by an immigration employee. “I could tell this was a personal thing,” he says.

But he also knew that he had to tread very carefully. “If this didn’t go well, I could be sent right back home, and my client would have been pretty ticked,” says Bob. “I wouldn’t have been so happy myself.”

So what should you do when you find yourself in a hostile situation?

Acknowledge their ego

Muster up some empathy.

“I knew I had to…speak respectfully and kindly, which I would always do, but also had to be really empathetic and try to find out what was bothering her,” says Bob.

After chatting with her a bit, she told Bob that she had met another well-known American speaker who “was the rudest.”

“That was the problem,” says Bob. “I said, ‘Well, I’m very sorry you had that experience. I’m very grateful for your help in doing what needs to be done to help me get through so that I can respect the law and do my best.’ She was fine after that.”

3. Understand the Words That Are Coming Out of Their Mouth

We each have a unique belief system, which often leads to misunderstandings.

“Our belief system is a combination of upbringing, environment, schooling, news media, television, movies, popular entertainment, popular culture, and cultural mores,” says Bob. “All this information forms our beliefs, the way we see the world.”

And these individual belief systems are what we use to “fill in the blanks.”

“So, we make major decisions based on very limited information,” says Bob. “Two people can think they’re talking about the same thing when they’re actually talking about two different things.”

So how do you make sure you’re on the same page?

Don’t assume anything

First, remember that your interpretation isn’t the only one.

“I try to remember to ask myself how many meanings [a term] could possibly have,” says Bob. “First, based on different people’s belief systems and their interpretation. Also, words do literally have different meanings.”

Then, ask for their definition.

“You need to ask them to define their terms,” says Bob. “It might be something like, ‘Dave, just for my own clarification…’ Because that’s a tactful way to say it so it’s not a message that puts them on the spot and makes them defensive.”

Written by April Dykman.