What makes people resist your proposals or ideas? Is it simply because they aren’t good enough? According to communication expert Richard Storey, there is a spectrum of reasons why people say ‘no’ to you. Here are three of the most common reasons:
1. They don’t understand your ideas
It’s often the case that people will say ‘no’ to you simply because they don’t understand your idea or proposal. Unfortunately, some will not want to expose their lack of understanding, and will instead give you a rejection.
What to do: When presenting your proposal to others, ensure you provide a context that will be relevant to them and which explains the premise for your proposal. Paraphrase and repeat your key message regularly and in different ways. Ask open questions to check understanding (open questions are those that require more than a ’yes’ or a ’no’). Make sure the information you present is packaged in an attractive way, and use simple and concise language throughout your pitch.
2. They don’t perceive a need for your ideas
In my previous career as a business-to-business sales executive, one of the most frequent objections from clients was that of not being able to see a need for the service I was promoting. A need that is acknowledged is the first step towards gaining agreement; without this essential step, your proposal will be rejected.
What to do: The key is to conduct detailed fact-finding about your client’s needs and priorities. Storey suggests a stepwise ‘OPEN’ structure to help you establish their needs:
- Outcome questions: Find out what your customer would like to achieve; it’s also important to ask why the outcome is important
- Problem questions: Ask questions that will elicit the problems or challenges linked with the achievement of the outcome
- Exploration questions: Explore the various impacts of the problem, or the impacts of continuing with the status quo
- Need questions: Ask questions that will bring your client to their acknowledged need
3. They don’t view you or your ideas as credible
In business, credibility is everything. It derives from the Latinate ‘credo’, which means ‘I believe’. Would you ‘believe’ someone who appears unable to answer any of your objections? Would you ‘believe’ someone who focuses solely on their own needs, and has little appreciation of your own? Would you ‘believe’ someone who has scant understanding of the product they are trying to tell to you?
What to do: Credibility isn’t an attribute that is built overnight. But a good starting point is to develop your expertise on your subject – in other words, become an expert. Stay up-to-date on trends in your industry. Know your product or service ‘back-to-front’ and work hard to understand the real needs of your customers. The importance of good character cannot be overstated, either. If people trust you, they are more likely buy from you. It’s also true that if people like you, they will find it easier to buy from you than someone with a less attractive character.
It can be extremely frustrating when your ideas are rejected. But you can minimise the chances of this happening by being prepared. Be a credible advocate of your product and service; work hard to develop a strong understanding of your customers – what they want and what they need; and maintain your good character. If you do these things, you’ll experience considerably less resistance.