Dealing With No: Negative-Reverse Selling With Email

“No” comes in many flavors. The right-away no. The ignoring you no. The “I’m too busy” or too comfortable with the status quo no. You know what? That’s life. That’s part of being in sales. Keep at it. Be persistent.

Email’s Place In Your Omnichannel Marketing Strategy“No” comes in many flavors. The right-away no. The ignoring you no. The “I’m too busy” or too comfortable with the status quo no.

You know what? That’s life. That’s part of being in sales. Keep at it. Be persistent.

But sometimes no’s hurt. And with good reason. They’re disrespectful. No, not to you.

Sometimes customers are disrespectful to their own intellect.

Ever meet prospects who say no without considering the negative consequences of continuing with the status quo?

Forget about considering benefits you offer — they won’t even consider how ignoring change could hurt them!

What if there was a way to harness that negative energy, to use it to both sides’ advantage? Especially when you have a dialogue working, but need to qualify it a bit more.

Is there a way to work with prospects who brush your email off, or ignore your call? Indeed, there is.

Ever Experience This?

Think back to the last time a seller was trying to persuade you to buy. Specifically, a time when you were comfortable with how things were at the moment. The decision you were being asked to consider would require serious consideration. But you didn’t have time for that.

Remember a situation like that? You didn’t have time to consider your specific needs — let alone the details about what the seller was selling.

But suddenly, as you were conversing, the seller said, “Ok. I don’t think you’re ready for this yet. This clearly isn’t a fit for you now.”

That may have jarred you.

That’s because the seller challenged your desire — your ability to want what’s being offered.

It’s a peculiar event and generates tension. Purposefully.

If this sounds familiar, you were probably succumbing to an old (yet effective) sales communications technique called negative-reverse selling. This is one of many effective communications tools invented by David H. Sandler.

It’s a method successful digital sellers understand and practice when using the written word. Do you?

What Is the Negative Reverse?

Writer, Anna Migeon puts it best. She says, selling is like fishing, according to Sandler.

“When you first feel a tug on the line, resist the impulse to reel in the line right then. That first nibble is just the moment when the fish needs a little extra slack on the line, to allow it the time to really grab hold of the hook.”

Ever bottom-fish for bass with soft, artificial lures? Then you know what I’m talking about.

Migeon says with knowledge and understanding, the patient fisherman or fisherwoman waits for the line to tighten again … then gently, carefully, sets the hook.

You see, Sandler invented the idea of making “verbal contracts” with prospects. Rather than trying to sell to them, Sandler started challenging his prospects to convince him to sell.

His approach was unorthodox and dramatically effective.

When Might You Use Negative-Reverse?

Email and phone scripts. The negative-reverse technique can be effective in email communications — as part of your follow-up message sequence. It’s a great way to “weed the garden” of poor leads — so you can move on to more close-able prospects.

This very deliberate, specific way of writing is effective in helping clients self-disqualify from your prospecting message sequence.

Migeon puts it plainly. When the prospective buyer seems interested the amateur, over-eager salesperson will whip out the contract.

“It’s at that point the prospect smells a rat and is likely to run the other way,” says Migeon. “The more pushy and aggressive the salesperson, the more resistant the prospect is likely to become.”

However, an effective salesperson knows when to give the fish extra line.

Take a Step Backward to Go Forward

For example, let’s say you’ve got a discussion going. You’ve researched your prospect inside-out. They will truly benefit from doing business with you. However, they are comfortable with the status quo. Thus, they brush you off — without giving thought speaking with you.

When customers aren’t approachable they sometimes need encouragement to introspect — to stop for a moment and examine their “no.”

This is where the “negative reverse” technique shines. It’s all about taking a step backward to draw the prospect forward.

Examples of a Negative Reverse

“Well it sounds to me like you aren’t interested in moving forward on training your sales team, Susan.”

Or …

“The more I listen, the more I understand. You’re not ready to invest in improving your sales communications technique.”

Or perhaps you might ask your prospect, “Are you sure you’ve given it enough thought?”

How to Craft a Compelling Offer for Search Engine Marketing

The best way to motivate a click online is to make a compelling offer and provide an urgent call to action. This is not news to Internet marketers. But when it comes to search engine advertising, like Google AdWords, you need to think about your offer and call to action a bit differently. The secret is coming up with an offer that attracts qualified prospects, to maintain conversion rates—instead of bringing in tire-kickers who are only interested in getting a quick deal, and won’t actually buy.

The best way to motivate a click online is to make a compelling offer and provide an urgent call to action. This is not news to Internet marketers. But when it comes to search engine advertising, like Google AdWords, you need to think about your offer and call to action a bit differently. The secret is coming up with an offer that attracts qualified prospects, to maintain conversion rates—instead of bringing in tire-kickers who are only interested in getting a quick deal, and won’t actually buy.

Two important considerations undergird this point:

  1. You only have 95 characters, spread over four lines of type, to play with.
  2. Since you are paying for each click, your ROI depends more on quality than on quantity.

In direct marketing offer theory, this is called managing the “offer equation,” which says that response quality is inversely related to response quantity. In other words, the sweeter the offer, the higher the response, and the less likely the respondents are to become profitable customers. Conversely, a lower response brings in a more committed prospect, one who is likely to prove more valuable over time—just costlier to acquire.

So the ideal in search engine advertising is to identify an attractive offer that also qualifies. And, it needs to be very simple, so it can be communicated with minimal investment of your precious 95 characters.

Here are some excellent offers that serve both purposes: simplicity and quality control:

  • Free shipping. A great way to differentiate yourself in a highly competitive environment. Free shipping is very appealing to prospective buyers, but because it is only redeemed on purchase, it’s successful in the equation management game.
  • Free trial. Another classic equation management tactic. Only people who are serious about your product will be likely to take it on trial. But you still get the power of the word “free.” In the tech world, a free software download has been a proven winner of this type.
  • Free gift with purchase. Another way to motivate conversion, versus mere click-through, and easy to explain. But it does take up a bit more real estate than free shipping or free trial.
  • Free information. Always a popular and productive offer in business markets, where buyers need detailed information as part of their purchase process. Examples include a free case study, research report, or white paper. Qualifies beautifully.

To be avoided are generous offers that motivate high response but poor quality. A free mug or t-shirt, with no strings attached, for example. Unless you can otherwise qualify the target with a highly selective keyword or phrase.

Have you come up with a compelling offer to motivate quality responses in B-to-B search engine advertising? Let’s share ideas.

A version of this post appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.