3 Reasons for sales resistance and what you can do to overcome it

Embrace resistance from prospects as a norm in selling.  It is the rare prospect who opens his arms wide to be sold to. Even when wearing the prospect’s hat, a salesperson acts in that precise fashion-he resists. Examples of sales resistance include the customer avoiding you, or declining your request for appointment. It can also be the buyer is unfamiliar with the product or service but does not want to admit it. Or, he’s not bought you, so won’t the product, and not wanting to offend you, doesn’t say so. It could also be he can’t afford the price but won’t say so. But what triggers, and what can you do, to overcome sales resistance?

Decoding the Prospect’s Mind: Unravelling Resistance in Sales

The foremost reason for friction in the selling process is salesperson-fatigue. Prospects, worn out by numerous poorly executed sales pitches, develop a defensive mechanism — they resist and avoid sales interactions. “Argh! Why bother? They’re all the same,” they reason. To overcome this sales resistance, knowing you can’t win them all, play the numbers game; or explore alternative channels like LinkedIn or ask for referrals to bypass gatekeepers.

Another reason could be the natural reaction to being addressed by a stranger — you are cautious. Prospects grapple with doubts about the salesperson’s intentions: ‘Does this salesperson want to make a quick kill? Is he out to con me? I’m not sure what he is selling and I don’t want to look foolish by asking. Will I look weak if I give in too easily?’

Unless it’s your first day in sales, you will smell a rat when the prospect has a ravenous appetite to see you, is hungry to consume your message and gluttonous to sign. Further, think about this. When the prospect resists you complain, and when he doesn’t resist, you suspect something fishy. Please, choose a struggle.

All these thoughts play out in the prospect’s mind (as they would yours if you were the prospect) on the initial contact with you, the salesperson; especially if it is the salesperson who has solicited the interview.

Just think of the reasons you, as a prospect, resist the lady who wants to engage you with a leaflet at the supermarket; or the hawker who tries to get your attention in traffic; or the call you just received that started by saying, “My name Kageche, I was referred to by your friend Zainah; I’m with Kampuni Nyingine and… ”

Making the opening about the buyer and opening  negotiations in a disarming manner will help in diffusing or the deescalating tension that breeds sales resistance.

Resistance as a Sales Indicator: Why Prospects Push Back

Any change manager will tell you that the first reaction to change is resistance. And this is a third reason why the prospect resists. Consciously or unconsciously, the thought of meeting a salesperson means the possibility of disrupting her current way of life, shifting from her comfort zone.

In the prospect’s mind, this could mean major upheavals in her clock, which isn’t broken according to her, and so doesn’t need fixing. The prospect sees a sales interview as change. And because she does not want to change, what does Sales Psychology 101 tell us? She resists.

Even if the salesperson comes bearing good tidings, the prospect’s mind screams, “Here comes change. Resist!”

Overcome sales resistance

Understanding the Prospects’ Perspective

The foregoing should not spell doom and gloom for you, the progressive salesperson. Wear the prospect’s hat and laugh very hard because after complaining so hard about his resistance, you really are being hypocritical. Seeing only the speck in his eye; and not the log in yours. So, view yourself through the prospect’s eyes to understand where she is coming from. This is how to overcome buyer resistance in sales. And is a much better approach than hoping to avoid sales resistance.

Read: 3 ways to create a buyer aligned sales process

In addition, much as this resistance may put off the salesperson, look at the alternative. Imagine a sales call where the prospect has appetite to see you, is hungry to consume your message and gluttonous to sign. What’s your first reaction? Unless it’s your first day in sales, you instantly smell a rat. Why? It is not the natural progression of human interaction.

If you are selling medical insurance, you suspect the prospect has a major surgery coming up; if you are selling to a new distributor, you start doubting, he will honour the 30 days credit; and if you are selling tenancy, you dread the possibility of finding your bath tub unhinged by the eager- to-buy but utterly careless tenant. This is a benefit of sales resistance- it serves as a checks-and-balances system, helping salespeople avoid onboarding problematic accounts.

A Reality Check for Sales Professionals-Choose a struggle

Sales resistance is an inherent part of the sales process. It is a reality that can be mitigated but not eliminated. Think about it. When the prospect resists you complain, and when he doesn’t resist, you suspect something fishy. Choose a struggle.

Perhaps no other profession tests the dynamism of human behaviour the way Sales does; and resistance, whether encountered or not, prompts unique challenges. Embracing and navigating through sales resistance is not only inevitable but also a crucial milestone in the journey of sales growth.

In essence, overcoming sales resistance is an art that requires understanding, anticipation, and proactive approaches. As with any human interaction, breaking through resistance marks a significant achievement in a sales professional’s journey toward success.

Read: Effectively handling objections moves you from average to stellar seller


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