Renowned sales expert Dave Kurlan of Objective Management Group has a wonderful training video on sales resistance, and it mirrors what many experts posit about sales: that the art of selling is every bit as much about reducing sales resistance as increasing sales acceptance.
Recently on LinkedIn, Tom Hopkins, one of the most respected sales trainers in the nation, said the same thing.
If that is the case, that good selling requires reducing sales resistance (and I agree that it is), then salespeople must find a way to anticipate that resistance.
Most salespeople don’t get this key point about anticipation. They are solely focused on developing relationships and being accepted. Relationships are good, but relationships in and of themselves do not eliminate or lower conflict or resistance. Everyone’s difficult uncle at the family reunion is proof of that!
To reduce resistance, salespeople must learn to recognize the actions or behaviors they exhibit that cause resistance in the first place. Are yours?
Most salespeople are so bad at anticipating resistance that they often do one of two things:
One of the reasons representatives don’t anticipate resistance is poor listening skills.
Only 25% of all salespeople emphasize listening over talking. If you’re not listening, you cannot hear and identify the resistance building in a prospect's voice. This is what I mean by “missing the signs”.
What causes that? Two things.
One, very few salespeople think “strategically”. They are so focused on “selling/telling” that they remain stuck “pitching” their products and services versus thinking like a business person with a broader and longer term perspective.
Second, a high percentage of salespeople don't listen because, while their prospect is speaking, they are thinking of what they are going to say the moment the prospect stops and takes a breath. What they’re not doing is paying attention and remaining in the moment where the action is.
If they aren't paying attention with their ears, then they certainly aren't paying attention with their eyes. Noticing changes in body language is key to sensing resistance. Again, distraction and a lack of focus is the issue.
When salespeople are busy contemplating their next move, instead of paying attention, they are not controlling their emotions and they miss the opportunity to participate in a rich two way business conversation.
You may notice there’s a big self-awareness issue.
Most salespeople lack self-awareness. In other words, they don’t notice how prospects are reacting when they (the salespeople) answer a question a certain way, ask a particular question, become defensive, rattle off their talking points, evade direct questions, or appear untrustworthy. They just keep on pushing the sale, and the prospect grows silently more resistant.
Sales closing rates vary wildly by industry but generally range from as low as 10% to near 50%. In its evaluations of 1,884,457 salespeople, salespeople scored an average of only 24% in the Closer Competency and only 6% of all salespeople have the Closer Competency as a strength. (See stats on all 21 Sales Core Competencies)
If 75% of salespeople are not really paying attention, we can deduct that resistance goes up in at least half of their sales calls (which is 37.5% of all calls assuming all salespeople make the same number of calls) without the salespeople knowing it. Failed closings average 70%, so if resistance occurs 37.5% of the time, then in roughly 1/4 of the cases, resistance is responsible for salespeople losing the sale.
It’s more than reasonable to put lowering resistance at the top of your to-do list.
Now, for some good news. If resistance is an issue for you, you’re in luck. There is no sales tactic that is easier to learn than learning how to lower resistance. We can help you get started.
Sales management expert Duane Cashin has lead award-winning sales organizations and trained sales teams for companies of all sizes. He’s earned membership in Presidents Club and Circle of Excellence, successfully built and sold his own multi-million-dollar business, and enjoys sharing his passion for sales.