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What to Do When a Prospect’s Boss Says No

A classic objection that many salespeople hear from clients is “…it’s my boss, not me.” While this can be discouraging, you just have to treat it as you would any other objection, with a few minor twists:

Acknowledge–Start the process by acknowledging the problem with your prospect. Reference the manager and show empathy without being patronizing – you don’t want to be perceived as taking sides:

“I realize that we can’t move forward without your manager’s support.”

Or, if you sense that they still want to work with you, try something like this:

“I can sense your frustration. Without your manager’s support we can’t get it done.”

Ask for elaboration–Before going any further, you need more information to get to the bottom of the objection. Start by learning how your contact feels about their boss’ objection:

“If it was your decision, Franklin, what would you do? I am curious as to how you feel about the recommendation.”

Then get them talking about the boss:

“Can you tell me why your manager is reluctant to do this?”

Watch what you say–Questions like these can easily start to sound conspiratorial, so try to focus on understanding the boss’ reluctance before throwing out ideas. “Can I meet with your manager?” is an idea. You’re gathering information at this point – the time to offer ideas will come later.

Reframe for two–Once you understand the situation, align yourself with the client as you reframe the boss’ objection as an unfulfilled need:

“ So it seems we need to figure out how to show your manager more value…”

In doing this, you position a joint problem-solving approach that can be used to bring the boss around.

If the client isn’t willing to do that, revert to an “I” message, and focus on what you need to do without involving them:

“… I can only conclude that your manager needs a better understanding of why this approach will help address the objectives of the initiative. Is that right?”

Generate ideas together– Once they agree to your reframe, get to work. Brainstorm different ways to approach the boss, discuss modifications to the recommendation if necessary– work with your client to come up with a solution.

This approach can be applied to any third-party objection. First find out how your contact personally feels about the recommendation, and if they want to work with you. Then use them as a resource to resolve the objection. You just might come up with a way of bringing the boss around.

Do you have any additional tips for handling this type of situation? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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