Dec 18, 2019 • Podcast

How do I overcome buyer resistance?

Paul discusses the seven realities of buyer resistance and how to overcome it.

Show Notes:

Buyer resistance takes shape in many forms. Buyers might claim your price is too high, the timing isn’t right, or worse, they give you the silent treatment. These are all forms of resistance.

Buyer resistance is a break in your momentum, that’s all! Don’t get too frustrated.

There are seven realities of price resistance. “First of all, you’re going to experience lots of resistance.”

Paul offers sage advice from an old colleague. “Persistence beats resistance!”

“Preparation builds confidence.” Before a tough meeting, prepare for the interaction. Who’s better prepared for your meeting, you or the buyer?

“Attitude drives behavior.” Make sure you mentally prepare yourself before handling customer resistance. 

“The bigger the deal the more resistance you’ll experience.” When you do experience resistance, adopt a small wins approach. 

When a buyer voices their objection, they feel the need to defend their stance. By proactively acknowledging their potential objection, the buyer feels no need to defend it. 


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The Q and A Sales Podcast is edited by The Creative Impostor Studios.

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How do I overcome buyer resistance?

(Transcribed from podcast)

Today’s question is about overcoming resistance. In a recent training seminar, I was working with a group of sales professionals who have an extremely long sales cycle. One of the questions that came up was pretty straightforward.

“Paul, how do we overcome resistance throughout the buying process?” Think about that. As a sales professional, you’re going to face price resistance throughout the entire end-to-end experience. So on today’s episode, we are going to give you a couple of tips and ideas to overcome resistance.

Now, resistance can take shape in many different forms. It could be price objections at the end of the sales process. It could be a customer who just doesn’t want to meet with you, who doesn’t have time, that’s pinballing you around different departments within the organization. So resistance can take shape in different forms, and it’s important to realize that resistance is just a minor setback in achievement of your success. That’s how we need to view it. To kick this off, let’s take a look at seven realities that we’re going to have to face to overcome resistance.

Number one: You’re going to experience lots of customer resistance. That is just part of the selling process. There are other priorities—other things going on in your customer or prospect’s world—and so we need to realize that we’re going to face some resistance on our way to success.

Number two: You will sell in spite of that resistance. In fact, I would encourage all of you to think of a recent example where you’ve experienced some price resistance; then recount how you actually overcame that resistance. Think about what you did. Think about some of the actions that you took to overcome that resistance.

Number three: You are going to miss some opportunities because of the resistance. When customers give you too much resistance and it just doesn’t work out, you missed your window of opportunity. It’s okay. It happens. Accept it, learn from it, and move on.

Point number four: Some resistance that you experience is fake. I’ve met with multiple business owners, executives who tell me they like to test salespeople that are calling on them. If a salesperson would call them up and say, “I’ve got three ways I can help you save more money,” (or make more money or drive more money to your bottom line) and they seem interested and it sounds kind of like an interesting idea, oftentimes these decision makers might push back a little and say, “The timing’s not right,” or, “I’m just not sure if that’s for us.” They might push back a little bit to test your resolve; to see just how determined you are to make things happen. The reality is, business people want to work with other successful business people that show some persistence and determination.

That brings me to point number five: Persistence beats resistance. A good friend of mine and colleague who I worked with for a number of years, always used to tell me that persistence beats resistance. I don’t know if he came up with it or stole it from someone, but either way, it sounds great.

One example that he shared with me was an opportunity he had been working on for months and months and months, and he couldn’t get anywhere. Just couldn’t get to meet with anyone. So finally, he decided to bring along his son, who was a youngster at the time, for a joint call. He said that by bringing in his son, he appealed to the gatekeeper and they were able to make things happen. Interesting way to help break the ice. But his persistence definitely beat resistance.

Point number six: Preparation builds confidence. I was talking to a sales professional the other day who was experiencing some minor resistance as he closed a deal, but the customer was starting to pull back and [he] was thinking maybe they weren’t going to move forward. Imagine how frustrating that is to close a deal, and then the customer starts to back out. The salesperson said, “I didn’t get upset and frustrated.” Instead, they got prepared. They spent hours preparing for the call, reaching out to their colleagues. That salesperson was able to go back in confidently and re-win the sale. Preparation builds confidence.

Point number seven: Your attitude is going to drive your behavior. We move in the direction of our thoughts, so if we experience a minor setback; if we experience some resistance and we tell ourselves, “Here we go again. There’s no way I’m going to close this deal. This stinks. Why does this always happen to me?” If we have that attitude, once we experience resistance, it’s going to determine how motivated we are to actually push through that resistance. Remember, your attitude will drive your behavior. If you find yourself speaking negatively to yourself, give yourself a mental enema and flush those negative thoughts out of your mind. You’ve got to go in with the right attitude.

Those are some of the realities that we are dealing with. For the rest of the time, let’s talk about how we can overcome resistance. Salespeople experience resistance. It’s what we do. Getting past it will determine how successful we can be.

Here’s the first tip: Adopt a small-wins approach when you’re going after a large, complex opportunity. It can be motivating. It’s exciting thinking about bringing in the big deal. However, it can also be frustrating when we experience setbacks. Typically, the bigger the deal, the more setbacks we’re going to face because there’s different nuances of the deal. There’s different buying criteria. Different people are going to be involved. There’s a lot going on. So, anytime we’re going after a large complex opportunity where we know we’re going to experience resistance, use a small-wins approach. The term “small wins” was popularized by a guy named Karl Weick. He wrote a whitepaper called Small Wins that actually was published in 1984. He wrote this whitepaper talking about how large-scale social change actually happens. He said that big problems, for example, like civil rights, don’t get fixed and just one big win. In fact, what will happen is that smaller wins, smaller problems that we address, and tackle, and solve, will actually lead to big change. What he’s saying is that some of these big problems we face in our world, they’re too big to take on all alone. What we need to do is actually break them down into more manageable problems.

So, he was talking about small wins within the context of social change. But, it also works in overcoming resistance. Karl Weick defined a small win as “a concrete outcome of moderate importance.” By itself, one small win doesn’t mean all that much, but when you combine a bunch of small wins, it’ll actually attract allies, deter your adversaries, build momentum. Eventually, that will lead to big change—a small win as a controllable opportunity that produces a visible result.

Our goal when we experience resistance, is to focus on achieving small wins. Here’s what I would encourage… If you’re going after an opportunity and you know you’re going to face some setbacks along the way, identify all the small wins that you need to achieve, that will lead to your success. Try to come up with at least a dozen, or two dozen (whatever it might be), and use those small wins as your benchmark steps in achieving that success. Especially if we’re facing resistance early on. Think about it. If you’re going after a large opportunity and you can’t even get someone to return your phone call or schedule a meeting, your first small win has to be, just get the meeting. That’s what you focus on. You don’t need to focus on scheduling a demo, or presenting your solution. All you need to focus on is getting that small win. When you face resistance, adopt a small-wins approach.

The next thing we can do is anticipate resistance. Go back and look at several opportunities that you were pursuing over the past year or two. Ask yourself, “In each one of these opportunities, what were the common forms of resistance that I experienced?” If you continuously face the same resistance throughout the buying process, you need to understand why you’re experiencing it. But, it should come as no surprise when you do experience it in your next opportunity.

By understanding and anticipating that resistance, it’ll help you overcome that resistance. So again, the takeaway there… Go back and review several deals that you worked on the past few years and ask yourself, “What are the common forms of resistance that I’ve experienced?” Maybe it’s just getting the time to meet with them, getting the first appointment, scheduling a demonstration, meeting with all the right decision makers. What resistance did you experience? Then, if you were successful in getting past it, ask yourself, “How did I get past it?”

The next thing. Be proactive and address the resistance before it takes place. There’s a reason we want to do this. We call it being proactive because it means we’re not waiting for the resistance to surface.

We’re addressing it before it actually happens, right? The reason we do this is simple. When someone gives you resistance or gives you an objection, once they verbalize it. They feel the need to defend it. So if we’re having trouble just getting our prospect to commit to a meeting and they finally say, well, look, I just don’t have the time right now is not a priority.

Once they say that and they’ve made the statement, they feel the need to defend it, and it can be nearly impossible for us to overcome it. And so if we can acknowledge that concern before they surface it. Maybe we can get past it. All right, so again, we want to be proactive, so when we’re reaching out to a prospect, and we can do this either via voicemail, email, whatever it might be, we might even throw out that phrase, Hey, I understand that you have several priorities going on right now.

Or you might mention something like that. I understand that the timing might be tough here by saying, I understand you’re acknowledging that concern and you’re proactively eliminating that as a form of their resistance. Now, whatever you say afterwards, better be compelling enough for them to want to meet with you though.

You got to think about it. You’re a prospect who is super busy or your customer who is super busy. They have to believe that whatever they’re going to gain from that meeting. Is worth what they’re sacrificing, which at this point is just their time so it had better be compelling. That’s what we mean by being proactive.

The next thing we want to do is emphasize the opportunity value of what you are going to be presenting. Now you’re all familiar with opportunity costs, right? Opportunity cost is what you sacrifice. It’s the next best option. What people could be doing, for example, it’s what you could be doing. With your time right now versus listening to this podcast.

And the whole idea is that whatever you’re listening to is worth more than what you could be doing as a result. That’s opportunity cost. Now, opportunity value is slightly different. It’s making the prospect or your customer aware of the potential gain and impact that you could have on their business, but then reminding them that the only way to experience that impact is by at least meeting with you.

That’s the opportunity value because once you throw it out there and say, Hey, you could potentially save 20% on your production costs in the next six months, but in order to get there, we need to first meet and talk about some of your needs. You’re making them aware of what they could potentially gain, and you’re also making them aware of what they will not potentially gain if they decide not to meet with you.

We call that using opportunity value. Now, the final thing that we can do when we are trying to manage resistance, remember, persistence beats resistance, and so whatever happens, whatever stage of the buying process we are at, always gained permission to follow up. No matter if it’s the first meeting or if it’s the last meeting, always gained permission to follow up by gaining that buyer’s permission.

They are giving you a license to sell. They are letting you know, Hey, you can reach out to me, but when you do reach out to them, make sure you’re creating value at every single interaction. That’s what will distinguish you from being a pest versus just being persistent. Persistent salespeople create value in every interaction.

People that are being a pest. Just follow up and say, Hey, I’m just checking in. That creates no value. So remember those tips as you’re going out there, remember, you’re going to experience some resistance. You’re going to sell in spite of it. When you do experience that resistance, adopt a small wins approach, you can anticipate your resistance by going back and reviewing several of your previous successes and then ask yourself, okay, what kind of resistance did I experience and how did I get past it?

Be proactive. Acknowledge some of the resistance before the customer or prospect tells you about it. Once they tell you, they’re going to feel the need to defend their stance. And so try to overcome it by proactively understanding and by proactively empathizing with that customer and finally emphasize the opportunity value.

We talked about opportunity value is what they can potentially gain, but in order to get that, they’ve got to at least meet with you. So emphasize that opportunity value, and then gain permission to follow up, gain permission to follow up at every occurrence, whether it’s the first call, whether it’s the last call, remember, persistence, beats resistance, and just as a reminder, make sure that you go to the Q and a sales ask us a question and we are going to turn it into a future show.

Thanks for tuning in and make it a big day.


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