How to overcome objections and open possibilities

This is something we taught ourselves to do in Seeking Alpha, with tremendous results:

Many times someone makes a suggestion and someone else raises an objection:

Person 1: Wouldn’t it be great if we did X?
Person 2: Yes, but the problem with doing X is Y.

The problem is you’re now at a dead end. The objection means that Person 1’s idea can no longer be discussed. The solution is to flip the suggestion into a question, and incorporate the objection as a constraint:

The question to answer: How can we do x in a way that ensures that y doesn’t happen?

Here’s a concrete example:

Seeking Alpha employee’s suggestion to hedge fund manager: You should launch a subscription research service in our Marketplace. Other hedge fund managers have found that doing so generates meaningful income, valuable feedback on their ideas, and valuable ideas from their subscribers.

Hedge fund manager’s objection: Yes, but I’m a long term investor and I invest in relatively few stocks. If I publicize my ideas on Seeking Alpha, there will be no reason for anyone to invest in my fund, so I’ll cannibalize my main business.

The question to answer: How can hedge fund managers generate meaningful income by launching a paid service in the Seeking Alpha Marketplace while ensuring that there is no risk that they cannibalize their fund?

Once you’ve formulated the question in a way which incorporates the objection as a constraint, it’s easy to brainstorm about possible answers. In this case, for example, the hedge fund manager could limit the subscription research service to ideas which aren’t suitable for their fund, or they could write about stocks they own only when the prices have appreciated from when they purchased the stock for their fund.

Can you think of an example from your startup where you can apply this approach? If so, write it as a comment below.

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