Reverses Make the Sale

Dec. 28, 2000
Many salespeople spend a lot of time working on getting the sale but spend very little practicing what to do when the customer says "No." The national closing rate in our industry is about one out of every three demonstrations. That means 66 out of 100 prospects are going to say "No" and mean it. Even the 33 percent who eventually say "Yes," actually say "No" the first four times they are asked for the order. This means that about 99 percent of the people you talk to are going to say "No," at least at first. Here are a few techniques that will help you develop solid plans for turning "No" into a sale.

Many experienced salespeople use reverses when the customer says "No." A reverse is a strategy designed to shift back to the customer the pressure they put on you with a challenging question. Reverses also can be used to get hidden information from the customer that you use to close the sale.

Most experienced salespeople suggest that you preface a reverse with a cushion, a statement that takes the sting out of a reverse. For example, if a customer says, "We like your equipment, but you are way out of the ball park on price," rather than start right away, soften your response with a cushion such as "That’s important," "I understand," "Good point," or "I’m glad you brought that up." These cushions take the sting out of any reverse you may use and get the customer to relax before you begin.

After the cushion is in place, try using some of these reverses in your next challenging situation. For example, if a customer raises a situation you cannot solve such as they want the deluxe system at a very low price try asking a question such as, "You cannot get all those options at the price you are looking for. If you had a magic wand that could produce the ideal solution to your problem, what would it be?" You may be surprised at the solution the buyer comes up with.

This technique relieves the pressure of you solving the problem and forces more information and possibly a solution from the customer.

Reverses are excellent for price problems. If you don’t use a reverse, you may be tempted to end the sale or to lower your price too early. Let’s assume the customer says, "Look, we like your equipment, but we can get it from your competitor for $200 less." Instead of your normal response, try a reverse such as "That’s an excellent price. Can you guess why our company sells the most equipment in this market but is rarely the lowest price?" This question forces the buyer to think of other factors that affect value other than price. They could answer your question with "after sale service." Whatever they respond, say, "That’s it" and go on to sell them on the value of that item because the item they bring up is the one that will sell them on the value of your products. This reverse takes the negative light off your price.

Another simple reverse can be used with an impatient customer who isn’t saying much of anything. Try pausing halfway through a sentence such as, "If I understand, your biggest problem with going ahead with the purchase is...." Pause to collect your thoughts. Many customers will fill in the space and finish the sentence by telling you the problem that you can then solve and close the sale; however, be prepared with an answer of your own in case you have to fill in the blank.

Reverses often are used to get more information. For example, if a customer says, "Your price is too high," instead of jumping in and causing conflict or lowering the price, try asking something such as "What, specifically, does that mean?" Another customer might say something such as "That installation date is too late." You might answer with "Why is that?" These reverses take the pressure off you to come up with a solution and get the customer to volunteer a solution that you can use to close the sale.

Practice a few reverses and try them the next time you are about to give up on a sale. You may be surprised how a simple twist can make a big difference in your success rate.

About the Author
Carl Davidson is president of Sales & Management Solutions, which provides sales and management training designed exclusively for the water equipment industry. For more than 13 years, he has helped more than 1,400 companies in seven countries. For a free demonstration tape and catalog, contact the company at 800-941-0068;

Please e-mail all questions and topic ideas to [email protected].

About the Author

Carl Davidson

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