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What "We're Not Buying Today" Really Means. Overcoming Initial Resistance in Sales
Guest articles > What "We're Not Buying Today" Really Means. Overcoming Initial Resistance in Sales
by: Jon Gilge
It is amazing that with all the prospects who are "not buying today" anyone ever sells anything.
You've heard all the "reasons" before:
Roughly translated, these all mean the same thing- We're not buying today!
Or do they?
Could it be that they really mean something very different that we are not understanding? Could this be something that if we did understand would help us to respond to what they really mean rather than to what they are saying, and in doing so help us help them to own our product?
There are a few things we need to understand about the psychology of buying relative to the early stages of the sales conversation before we can proceed to a discussion of the techniques we can use to overcome initial resistances.
Before the prospect has the opportunity to become engaged and fully interested in the sales process, and before you have time to establish rapport and trust, they may express initial resistance to you and your presentation. This is natural and should be expected. As consumers we are all defensive against attempts to sell to us.
It may be helpful to your understanding of this to think back to those times you have been resistant to a salesperson.
Ask yourself these questions:
"Why was I resistant?"
"Did your resistance eventually pass?
"Why did it pass and what caused you to become engaged in the salesperson and the product?"
Most likely, your resistance was due to the way we are all conditioned to deal with attempts to influence us. It is our natural instinct to be defensive against being persuaded to do something that we are not sure is in our best interest.
If you eventually made a purchase, your resistance did pass, and most likely because you developed trust in what the salesperson was telling you and learned that it was in your best interest to own the product.
As a salesperson, how you respond to initial resistance will largely define your success on a particular sales call. Improperly handled, initial resistance will lead directly to resistance to making a buying decision at the close.
Here's an example:
The prospect tells you, "We're not buying today."
And you respond with, "You don't have to buy today, but if you find our product fits your needs, and the price is right, why wouldn't you buy today."
This response, which has been and continues to be taught by many sales trainers, suggests your disagreement with what the customer has said by proposing that it is better to proceed differently. Because this can only be perceived as contradicting what they have said to you, it will only solidify that barrier to purchasing and cause the customer to be unreceptive to any of the information you present.
The disconnect created by doing so makes it very difficult to convince the prospect to actually buy today because you have put them in a position to have to do what they said, not buy today, in order to be consistent with their prior statement. The challenge to their concept of how they will be acting forces them to do it and prevents them from changing their mind based on the evidence to the contrary that your presentation is designed to offer.
It comes down to this:
You will never convince a prospect to change their mind on how and when to make a buying decision by telling them that they should do otherwise. You can only allow them to change their own mind by making it easy to let their resistance go.
It is helpful to understand that initial resistance reflects how the prospect feels at the moment they express it, not how they will feel after the sales conversation develops. As such, the technique used to respond to it must help the prospect move past it so they are able to let it go as the conversation develops.
Back to our original list of initial resistances:
These are all the things that prospects say that indicate that they do not plan on buying today. It is extremely important that a expert salesman knows how to handle these statements so that no conflict is created over them that would cause the prospect to own these statements and have to defend them later on. When they are put in this position, the only option is for them to be consistent with what they said earlier and not buy. The reality is that most objections you hear at the end of the presentation, after you ask the prospect to buy, are caused by the sales person- either because of something the salesperson said, or didn't say
So often, the thing that causes the objection at the end, are those things said, or unsaid in response to expressions of initial resistance. By responding in the proper way, the master salesperson can move past these statements in a way that allows the prospect to let them go well before they are asked to purchase.
Let's take a look at a specific response to the most common expression of initial resistance:
We're not buying today
Understand that at this point they don't think they will be buying today, they don't even know what product you offer and what it costs. Do you buy a car without seeing it or even knowing what kind it is? Of course not. You need to check under the hood and take it for a ride. After you do that you will make a new decision on how you will proceed, which is different from the decision you made not to buy before you knew what you were buying.
Respond this way:
"I can appreciate that. I want you to know that there is no obligation to my visit with you today, nor is there any expectation. How and when you make decisions is up to you. My job is to figure out what your needs are, and see if we have a product and service that is right for you. I know that if you discover that we have the right product for your needs, when the time is right for you, you will give us a call. That may be next week, next month, or next year. The important things is that we figure out if we can help you, and you can decide when it makes sense to get started. Fair enough?"
Let's take a closer look at what you are accomplishing with this response.
You start by agreeing with what they said.
"I can appreciate that. I want you to know that there is no obligation to my visit with you today, nor is there any expectation. How and when you make decisions is up to you."
Agreement insures that you are not perceived as challenging their idea of how and when they will proceed. Since disagreement will force them to own what they said and remain consistent to it when asked to buy, we must be extremely careful that the first part of our reply reinforces that what they are saying is correct for them. Remember, that from the perspective of the initial moments of your conversation it is, in fact, correct. How they feel about making the decision today after your presentation is a different decision, if you allow it to be.
Next, you move the conversation away from the topic of the buying decision, which is where most of the anxiety resides.
"My job is to figure out what your needs are, and see if we have a product and service that is right for you. I know that if you discover that we have the right product for your needs, when the time is right for you, you will give us a call."
This statement does just that, while at the same time shifting the perception of your intention from trying to sell them something, to a much more comfortable exploration of whether your company can provide a solution. By leaving open the possibility that you may not have a solution to their problems, you further take the pressure off and allow them to see the sales conversation as an mutual exploration rather than an attempt to sell them something. In this you are on their side, rather than their adversary.
Finally, we further reinforce our acceptance of their time frame, eliminating any lingering resistance to fully participate in the sales conversation without the pressure of being expected to act today.
"That may be next week, next month, or next year. The important things is that we figure out if we can help you, and you can decide when it makes sense to get started. Fair enough?"
By responding this way, you have succeeded in not reinforcing their resistance, taken the pressure off, diminished their anxiety over being expected to act today, and created a context in which they can be receptive to your message.
Remember, you can't change their mind about when to act, but you can allow them to do that for themselves.
Start your practice by writing out the complete response 10 times, and continue by reciting it until you can deliver it smoothly. In practice your words may vary slightly depending on your way of talking and the person who you are speaking to, but you can only be adaptable with a technique by first mastering the basic structure.
You have now learned the pattern of responding to initial resistance which you can use to develop responses to the other ways that it is expressed.
The Sales Giant is the publisher of the popular Sales Giant Training Blog (www.salesgianttraining.com/blog) and the author of the FREE 'Master Closing Guide' that you can download instantly at www.salesgianttraining.com/free-master-closing-guide. For more information on all of the sales training resources they offer, please visit them at their online home at www.salesgianttraining.com.
Contributor: Jon Gilge
Published here on: 16-Oct-11
Classification: Sales, Psychology