The 6 Step Reframe pattern in NLP is used to communicate directly with parts of the unconscious mind that have a positive intention whilst simultaneously having a negative impact on the individual’s behaviour. Once the positive intention of that part is identified, a more holistic and ecological form of expression can be identified.
With objections, we have a similar situation. As sales people, we must assume that the objection has a positive intention and so if we can work with our prospects to meet the needs of that ‘part’, we can effectively handle the objection.
Below is how to use the 6 Step Reframe to handle objections.
Step 1 – Clarify the Objection
Don’t be in a hurry to handle the objections that arise. Spend some time clarifying your prospect’s comments to allow you to chunk down into the specifics behind the objection. If the objection is that “it’s too expensive”, which part of your product or service appears to be more expensive? If the objection is that “the team won’t like the new software”, why exactly will the team have their reservations? Chunk down and clarify the finer details of the objection you face. The more clearly you have established the objection, the easier it will be to go through the remaining steps.
Step 2 – Establish Communication with that Behaviour
Here you need to ask your prospect the following question:
“If you can find a suitable alternative to the objection, would you be open to it?”
At this stage of the sale, it is likely that most prospects will agree to look for an alternative perspective. Their objection probably does not mean that they do not want to buy your product, rather they want to make sure that they feel fully confident in the decision they are going to make.
In a clinical situation, the communication is unconscious, and you identify or embed a physiological trigger that symbolise a positive or negative response. This requires good sensory acuity skills. In the sales situation, you need to remain aware of your prospect’s reaction at each stage to ensure they are giving congruent responses. Don’t necessarily just accept the words that your prospect is saying (remember, they only account for 7% of communication!).
Step 3 – Identify the Positive Intention of the Objection
Remember the presupposition that every behaviour has a positive intent? This is especially true with objections. If somebody does not want to buy your product immediately then there is something holding them back which serves a purpose to them. You need to identify this positive intention and then position your product as one that helps them achieve this goal.
For example, a common objection is that a prospect does not want to buy your product because it’s too expensive. Your goal is to uncover the reasoning behind them thinking of your product as expensive. Is it that they want to save money, and they have recently been cost-cutting throughout their business? Do they not recognise the extra secondary value your service offers beyond the immediate benefits because they do not measure success in that way? Are they comparing you to some other related product that they had a bad experience with and want to make sure they are making a good decision? Always look for that second level of objection behind what is actually behind said.
You may find that you need to chunk down and ask more detailed questions to get to the true positive intention of the objection. This is where your rapport skills will also be tested, because asking these kind of probing questions can seem a little invasive. However, they are vital to ask if you are going to successful handle this objection.
Step 4 – Suggest Empowering Alternatives
Step four is to align your product or service in ways that supports the positive intention of the objection. In a coaching situation, you would ask the client for suggestions on alternative behaviours to replace the existing negative behaviour. When handling this as an objection, your job is to align your product or service in ways that you support the positive intent.
Let’s take the above intentions and explore how we would align ourselves.
If your prospect is cost-cutting, explain how your solution can help reduce costs immediately or in the longer term. Perhaps you can emphasise the elements you have included in the overall package that they will not have to purchase separately. Maybe your product increases sales revenue, so you can encourage your prospect to look at the bottom line rather than just expenditure.
Suggesting different measurement criteria for a project can help you get a deal, especially if your service takes time to really shine. If your prospect is thinking short term, expand the timescale and get them to think over a longer scale. You need to know how to justify any secondary benefits of your product, and be prepared to back these up with testimonials.
Making a bad decision is not something many people want to do twice. Be sympathetic and remind the prospect how much they must have learned from their experience, so the chances of them doing the same thing again are minimal. Highlight the money back guarantee you offer, or the reduced tie in periods that you offer new customers.
Lazy method – If you find that you are having to work hard on coming up with these ideas, get your prospect to do the work.
Ask them HOW (presupposition) they would have to view your product or service in a way that makes it appear good value for money. If they can’t do it, use perceptual positions and enquire as to how other people in their business might be able to see the benefit. Get your prospect to handle the objection for you by asking a great question and then encouraging them as they start to come up with answers.
Step 5 – Evaluate the Alternative Options
Step five of the 6 Step Reframe would be to have them listen to and evaluate these alternative perspectives, either your suggestions or their own advice from their chosen perceptual positions. Do the suggested ways of looking at your product still achieve the positive intention that the original objection was obscuring?
Observe how they react when they take on these alternatives. You may find some incongruence, especially if you have not quite managed to meet the needs of the positive intention, so make sure your sensory acuity is on high alert. Is there any tension or resistance in their body or vocal qualities that might belie the words they are saying?
Step 6 – Future Pace the New Solutions & Check Ecology
Future pacing allows you to check how well your product or service sits with your prospect moving forward. Think about an example or situation that would arise in the future in which your product would play a key role. Then, ask your prospect how successful this situation would be as a result of the decision they made to buy your product.
In a coaching scenario, you would want to future pace at least three times to ensure the message sinks deep into the unconscious. In sales, you may not need to do this, especially if you get a positive response the first time. However, consider using three scenarios especially if you want your prospect bought into what you are selling them.
This step also allows you to check ecology. Is your solution holistic and beneficial for the whole of the business or your prospect’s close circle of friend and family? By emphasising the ecological approach of your product, you are likely to strengthen your relationship and appear less like a salesperson.
The 6 Step Reframe is a great NLP technique for getting people unstuck and helping them to find empowering alternatives to their current behaviour. By getting your prospect to think of different ways to proceed, your prospect is doing the hard work of handling the objection themselves. You don’t have to think hard for ways to reframe and change your prospect’s mind. Instead, you are helping them get through this restriction themselves, in their own way. If you guide them appropriately, using the 6 Step Reframe, then the end result will certainly be beneficial for you.