How to Deal with Negative Pushback

No matter how impressive your sales skills, most customers are still going to say no or at least put up a hell of a fight when you give them your pitch. Knowing how to deal with negative pushback like that is what separates bad salespeople from great ones.

Here are a few expert-level tips and a few methods for dealing with no’s to help you fall into the latter category.

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  1. Tips About How To Deal With Negative Pushback
    1. Validate
    2. Correct Only Misunderstandings
    3. Avoid Yes/No Questions
    4. Determine the Reason For the No
  2. Methods for How to Deal with Negative Pushback
    1. Negative Reverse Selling
    2. The LOC Method

Tips about How to Deal With Negative Pushback


When making a sale, always keep this point in the back of your mind: the customer’s positions are always good ones. You should never invalidate their point or opinion by saying something that amounts to “no, you’re wrong.”

In fact, 90% of the time (the exceptions are explained in the “correct only misunderstandings” section below), you should agree with them wholeheartedly with something like “absolutely, that’s a great point, and it’s precisely why [insert your sales pitch here].”

Constant validations of the customer’s thoughts and opinions will put them in a good mood, which makes them more likely to buy. It will also make them feel in control of the sale, which is a good thing for any sales pitch.

Correct Only Misunderstandings

The only time you should correct a customer during your sales pitch is when the views they are expressing are the clear result of a misunderstanding. If they are talking about your market and are obviously misinformed, for example, it’s okay to explain the reality to them.

Even in this case, you need to be very gentle not to appear you are lecturing the customer; no one wants to be talked down to. Try something like, “that’s actually what we thought for a long time too, but eventually, we realized that [insert sales pitch].”

Never correct a customer just because you disagree with them.

Avoid Yes/No Questions

Customers are naturally wary of sales pitches, and a yes/no question is very likely to result in a straight-up “no.” That will completely close the door in your face, which you obviously want to avoid. Instead, ask open-ended questions that let you find out more about the customer’s needs and desires.

This tip is especially useful when you’re experiencing pushback because asking questions about why the customer is concerned about a product or service is an excellent way to make them feel in control of the situation. It’s also a good way to find out what you need to do to course-correct your pitch.

RELATED: Why Asking Questions in Sales is Important

Determine the Reason For the No

If, after you deliver your sales pitch, the customer is still not interested, it’s your job to determine why not right then and there. DO NOT let them get away with “I’ll think about it and get back to you later.” It’s just an excuse that wastes a lot of your time.

Instead, try something like “when someone tells me they’re not sure, it usually means one of two things: they genuinely need more information in order to decide, or they’re not interested. Which is it for you?” This should be the only time in your pitch you pose a binary question like this.

Methods for How to Deal With Negative Pushback

Next, let’s look at two advanced techniques for dealing with pushback. These methods are tough to pull off well and require practice to master.

Negative Reverse Selling

Some customers just don’t trust salespeople, and so they’ll disagree with the pitch at all costs. If you sense this is true with a customer you’re talking to, you can shepherd them towards the sale by using reverse psychology and steering the pitch in a direction opposite where you want them to go.

By saying things like “you’re probably right, it doesn’t seem like you’re ready for this kind of product,” you’ll drive a resistant customer into defending why they are ready. In essence, you can get them to sell to themselves.

Keep in mind that negative reverse selling should only be used as a last resort, once you see that a prospect just won’t buy under normal circumstances. It’s very risky and will often result in a “no,” but it’s certainly worth a try.

The LOC Method

One of the hardest types of pushback to deal with is the kind fueled by previous negative experiences with your company. The LOC method (listen, own, choose) is a method for handling prior negative experience pushback. It’s an extremely delicate procedure, though, and should be dealt with the same care as defusing a bomb.

First, you need to listen to everything negative your customer has to say about their prior experience. Do not interrupt them. Let them vent until all their grievances are aired.

Next, own your company’s mistakes as if they were your own. Do not defer blame. This step is essential to make the customer feel vindicated and to show them they have been heard.

Last, let the customer choose if they want to continue with your company. Assure them you understand their objections and are ready to right your wrongs, but make it clear the choice is up to them and them alone. Make sure not to come off as pushy or needy.

The sales pitch is a delicate art. And knowing how to deal with negative pushback is an important component of it. Let this quick overview guide you, and your performance when you deal with negative pushback is sure to improve.

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