One of the sales techniques I find most fascinating is the negative reverse.  I have come to appreciate it as a tool that can relieve pressure in a sales conversation and help everyone get to the truth a little quicker. On top of that, it can help us approach sales from a place of service. Today, let’s explore the negative reverse!

For many of us small businesses, the person or people who wear the marketing hat also wear the sales hat. This forces us to seamlessly transition between those roles as we build relationships with our leads.  (Read here if you want to learn more about the difference between marketing and sales as someone who does both in your business).

At the same time, many entrepreneurs find sales to be a scary and/or undesirable task.  While it may be easy to speak passionately about the products and services, the idea of sales may have bad connotations. I hear the sales process described as sketchy, pushy, or awkward.

Yes, you can build your message and your value in the marketing process.  However, if you want to generate revenue, at some point you have to get to a moment where the opportunity for the sale is created and closed.

But sales isn’t just the close.  It’s not about skipping from a generic marketing message to a disjointed hard sell.  Sales is an entire process with many steps along the way to reveal information, gauge interest, and change course to find the right solutions and rapport.

Sales isn't just the close. #salestips #sales #business #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

One example of a technique that can be useful in that journey is the negative reverse.

The negative reverse is a Sandler technique.  It is effectively a method that uses reverse psychology to get to the “no” instead of pushing for the “yes.”  Rather than shoehorning a lead into making them understand why they are perfect for what you are selling, you are actually seeing if they are NOT perfect for what you are selling.

How does the negative reverse work?  Let’s say you’re in a service business and someone tells you that they don’t need your service because they have been taking the DIY avenue.  At this point, some salespeople may list why it is beneficial to switch to working with you, making assumptions that may now begin to sound pushy or perhaps even force some leads to dig in their heels.  To use the negative reverse, you might say, “Well, it sounds like you have it covered then, and you don’t need me.”  You just disqualified them from being your client. You’re not desperate. You are assessing the situation and prepared to let them go.  In this moment, you could find that their voice lingers a bit as if they actually might want to keep talking to you.  They may volunteer, “Well, yes, I’m doing it.  It’s taking me a long time, though.”  Or, you can take the opportunity to follow up with one more question that gives an opening to re-engage, such as “That’s impressive. Have you been doing that for a while?”

Why does a technique like this work?  The negative reverse reduces pressure from both you and your lead while it shifts the power of the conversation. It takes you out of a space of sounding desperate and driving this lead away.  Instead, it suggests you are in a position of abundance and signals that you want to be real with them.  If it’s not the right fit, it’s not the right fit…but maybe it is?

The negative reverse reduces pressure from both you and your lead while it shifts the power of the conversation. #salestips #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #business Click To Tweet

This approach has the potential to open up a new, disarmed conversation.  You are showing that it is okay with you to walk away from the conversation, so now is a chance for them to ask their questions or shed more light on the situation without feeling like you are going to pounce.

Now, when I say that this is a reverse psychology technique, you may be thinking that is inherently a sketchy salesperson move.  In practice though, the negative reverse leverages authenticity in sales.  If you want to come from a place of service, this can be a solution that fits well with that goal.

The negative reverse leverages authenticity in sales. #salestips #business #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb Click To Tweet

Think about this way: Let’s say you want to sell someone running shoes, but they already have a pair.  “I appreciate that you told me that.  It sounds like you are good with what you have!” Then they admit they’ve had that same pair of shoes for three years, and they are getting pretty worn down.  The conversation now starts fresh from a more honest place.  You can ask about that three-year shoe relationship and learn more about it.  The discussion may be able to circle back around to why your shoes are worth a look.  If not, it’s already out there that you were planning to stop the conversation.

Personally, I have found another helpful application for this technique.  A little too often, I find that people reach out to me to ask about my marketing services and then spend time explaining to me how well they are doing in business and how little they need me.  THEY contacted ME.  To tell me they don’t need me.  I don’t need that.  I am a big believer in honest conversation.  I don’t want my time wasted!  I ended up discovering the negative reverse, because it is a polite way of actually closing the conversation that I didn’t think was going anywhere in the first place.  The results have been interesting.

If I find myself in one of these conversations, I might look for them to pause and then I will say, “Wow, it sounds like you are doing really well.  Congratulations on getting to that point in your business!  To be honest with you, I work with small businesses – often with businesses that have a low budget for marketing, and it doesn’t really sound like that is you.  Maybe it would be better for you to go with a firm that does more big budget advertising.”

I mean it.

Most every time, the result is that they acknowledge that they actually don’t have a huge budget, they do have a small business, and they try to get ME back on track.  They called me, after all.  There is still a long road in a conversation like this, and I’m not always game for it.  However, it takes us out of the realm of a fake conversation with the lead trying to impress me all the time, and puts it into an honest space where we can really see if we are a good fit.

Fellow introverts, this may be worth a look for you!

So, does the negative reverse have a place in your sales process?  Perhaps not in every conversation, but at the right times it can be a handy tool.  Try it out and see what you think!

Looking for more wisdom on the sales process? Check out this Marketing Tip of the Week on Pacing a Sales Conversation.