Escalating buyer resistance is minimizing the influence sellers have over what is finally purchased. The direct persuasion techniques sellers use to nudge prospects from “no” to “yes” no longer work. The “tell and sell” techniques that once engaged and motivated buyers now generate skepticism and mistrust.
B2B buyers have access to information on the internet and are actively turning to third-party reports or expert advisers to shape their selection criteria. As a result, B2B sellers are progressively becoming less influential.
If that’s the bad news, the good news there is a scientifically proven technique called self-persuasion that works by eliminating resistance. Sellers who use self-persuasion succeed by helping clients convince themselves by discovering their own reasons for wanting to buy. There is no resistance, because buyers don’t argue with their own reasons. Self-persuasion works like oil in a car: It removes friction by lubricating the relationship.
While few sellers have been trained in self-persuasion, a number of sellers have successfully adopted one or two self-persuasion techniques, such as storytelling, without ever fully understanding why the tactics are so powerful. Sellers who use these tools find that when they remove friction from the sales experience, buyers engage earlier, listen more carefully and are more receptive to insight-driven thinking.
Here are six self-persuasion techniques and tools that have been developed and tested to move prospects from “no” to “yes” fast.
Establish an empathy bridge with a prospective buyer.
Build an empathy bridge when you want to turn a foe into a friend, a rival into an ally or a disinterested prospect into an enthusiastic client. Identify points of commonality, feed the shared understanding and emotion back and forth, and amplify it. Resistance dissolves when the other party becomes convinced you are there to help and have the ability to deliver on your declared intentions.
Tell an “aha!”-sparking story.
Tell a powerful and insightful story when you need to turn a skeptic into a believer. Emotions move people, and the best way to evoke an emotion is to tell a story. People easily recall stories, because they think and memorize in story. Stories become persuasive when the listener shares the frustration and emotional anguish that stops the story’s protagonist from achieving success and then shares the thrill of the “Aha!” insight or “now, I see” moments that helps the protagonist triumph over adversity and achieve their goal.
Use a PEP talk to transform pain points into specific needs.
Use the “PEP” talk questioning sequence to transform problems into solutions. The PEP sequence consists of problem, effect and possibility questions. Problem questions identify the pain points. Effect questions explore and amplify the size and impact of the problem. Possibility questions help the listener envision the solution. When the seller is able to help the buyer visualize their own possibilities, then the buyer is much more likely to take action.
Help the buyer picture their future and your role in it.
Frame your questions as a seller to open the buyer’s imagination. Ask questions that will enable the buyer to visualize how agreeing to make the purchase will start to resolve a long term challenge. Our brain prioritizes pictures over words. The word “imagine” causes us to suspend our disbelief. As far as the brain is concerned, picturing a behavior and actually doing it are the same.
Double the chances of a successful close by reminding the buyer that it’s their choice.
When you want someone to say “yes” to a proposal, reinforce their personal autonomy by reminding them they are free to accept or refuse. Research shows that adding “you are free to accept or refuse” or a similar phrase to a request doubles the chance you will receive a “yes.”
Package your final proposal as three multiple equivalent offers.
Instead of presenting a final offer to a prospective client as a single offer, package it as three equivalently priced offers. Researchers have found that multiple equivalent offers (or MEOs) raise the odds of closing a sale by 36 percent. Psychologically, customers view single offers as ultimatums. MEOs give buyers more choices and leave them feeling in control, dramatically increasing the odds of a successful agreement.
When sellers use self-persuasion strategies, buyers become convinced that the motivation to purchase has come from within. When sellers change from using direct persuasion to self-persuasion, sales cycles shorten, rates of closure go up, revenues increase and price haggling dramatically diminishes.