How Do Elite Salespeople Manage Resistance
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Renowned sales expert Dave Kurlan of Objective Management Group has a wonderful training video on sales resistance, and it mirrors what many experts post about sales: that the art of selling is every bit as much about reducing sales resistance as increasing sales acceptance.
Tom Hopkins, one of the most respected sales trainers in the nation, said the same thing on LinkedIn:
If that is the case, that good selling requires reducing sales resistance (and I agree that it does), 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. This is especially critical now as prospects return to work and are particularly reluctant to buy.
Most salespeople are so bad at anticipating resistance that often do one of two things:
Miss the signs (their prospects are resistant and they are completely blind to it);
Try to overcome whatever resistance they do observe by becoming defensive.
Both are fatal errors that always make the situation worse.
One of the reasons for poor anticipation of resistance is poor listening skills. Only 25% of all salespeople emphasize listening over talking. If you’re not listening, you cannot hear the building resistance in a prospect's voice. This is what I mean by “missing the signs”.
What causes that? Distraction mainly. Salespeople don't listen because they are two steps ahead of their prospects -- strategizing in their mind, scripting their next move, crafting their next question, etc. What they’re not doing is paying attention.
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 (Even on a video conferencing call, we can observe body language). Again, distraction is the issue. When salespeople are busy thinking instead of paying attention, they are not controlling their emotions and staying in the moment as they should.
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 certain 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 OMG's 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, it's reasonable to deduce that resistance goes up in at least half of their sales calls (37.5% of all calls assuming all salespeople make the same number of calls) without the salespeople knowing it. Failed closings average 70%, and if resistance occurs 37.5% of the time, then in 26% 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.