If you sell, then you encounter obstacles every step of the way.  There are the prospects you can’t get through to, the same ones who don’t return your calls, and those who offer so much resistance that the obstacle appears to be more like a road block than an obstacle.  Then there are the obstacles of timing, competition, budget, and disinterest, along with using and happy with someone else, doing it themselves and bad experiences with your company or simply companies like yours.  There is no selling without obstacles.

The difference between great salespeople and everyone else is how you approach those obstacles – your mindset,  and how you handle those obstacles – your strategy and tactics.

When it comes to mindset, it is crucial that you approach each obstacle as an opportunity.  Opportunities to differentiate you from everyone else in your industry, every other salesperson who has called on this prospect and everyone else this prospect has ever worked with.  It is an opportunity to perform at close to 100%.  Let’s go to baseball.  A pitcher might be throwing at 80-90% at the point in the game where he finds himself in a bases loaded jam with only one out.  At that point, he might reach back for something extra and throw at close to 100% of his capacity to escape the jam.  Does he seek to be removed from the game?  Does he give in?  Does he give up? Does he back off?  Does he back down?  No, no, no, no and no!  He focuses, slows things down, gets himself in control and ratchets it up a couple of notches.  Which approach is yours in selling?

When it comes to strategy, yours should be the element of surprise.  The prospect expects you to resort to features and benefits – to begin explaining why he should talk to you, why he should meet with you or why he should buy from you.  Simply don’t do that.  Do whatever he isn’t expecting, which brings us to tactics.

Tactically, when you say what your prospect isn’t expecting, it should result in the lowering of his resistance, the changing of his position and the opening of his mind. What are some of the things you can say or do at that moment to accomplish any and all of those things?

  • I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have called today.
  • You must not have this problem.
  • You’re right.
  • I shouldn’t have assumed that you would want to cut expenses.
  • I never should have thought that you would want to improve efficiency.
  • So you don’t want to fix the problem you shared with me.
You can add another 100 examples to this list but they should first lower resistance and second get them to change their position.  Do not try to turn them around using logic, features or benefits.

You can read more about turning obstacles into opportunities, including use of The Cycle and the Hidden Ball Trick in Baseline Selling.