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  • Psychology of Resistance

    “People don’t like to be sold but they love to buy.” That’s the marketer’s challenge. People want to buy things to satisfy their desires and remove unpleasant aspects of their lives. They just don’t want to feel like they’re being “sold.”

    If you’ve been involved in business for any length of time, you’re painfully aware of how challenging it can be to grab the attention of your audience. Even after you have it, it can be hard work to keep it, channel desire toward your offer and seal the deal.

    A countless number of thoughts and emotions occupy your potential customers’ minds. Distractions arise constantly. Then there’s the ever-present resistance to “being sold.”
    You have to find a way to get around these obstacles.

    Understanding the Resistance
    Jeffrey Gitomer wrote in The Sales Bible, “People don’t like to be sold but they love to buy.” From your own experience, you know that’s a true statement.
    That’s the marketer’s challenge. People want to buy things to satisfy their desires and remove unpleasant aspects of their lives. They just don’t want to feel like they’re being “sold.”

    Why is that?

    Claude Hopkins wrote that “Any apparent effort to sell creates corresponding resistance.” It’s an instinctive reaction. Our brains automatically think “Hey! This guy is trying to benefit at my expense. Well, he’s not gonna get me!

    But selling doesn’t have to be a zero-sum proposition. In fact, everyone should profit from the interaction.

    A customer’s sales resistance is related to a psychological phenomenon called reactance. Simply stated, reactance is a person’s subconscious rebellion against what he thinks someone else wants him to do.

    We see the other person’s will as a threat to our freedom to decide and act as we please.

    When a salesperson asks “how can I help you?” you don’t believe her intention is to help you; you believe she wants to help herself. You imagine that she’s going to do everything in her power to make you purchase what she wants to sell, not necessarily what you want to buy.

    She will try to make you buy now; you want to make up your mind in your own time.

    We want to operate on our own terms, not those of a salesperson (or anyone else). So we resist.

    How can you neutralize reactance? Let’s look at three psychological leverage points you can use.

    The most important factor in the decision-making process is how people categorize themselves. The way they think about themselves and their place in the world affects everything they do.

    They choose products, services and brands because of how they tie into their perception of their present and future selves.

    For example, how many millions of dollars does Nike make selling equipment to people who are serious athletes? How many more millions do they earn from those who dream of being athletes?

    Affirm the worldview of your audience and associate yourself with the categories they identify with.

    Mental/Emotional Inertia
    You may have heard it before, but it bears repeating: your message should enter into the conversation that the potential client is already having inside her mind.

    Which do you think will work better: adding another voice to the noisy cafeteria of your client’s mind, or talking with him about something he’s already thinking about, caring about and ready to do something about?

    Hitch a ride on a train that’s already in motion. Attach your offering to a motivation that is already driving your prospect. The stronger the motivation, the better.

    What are the things that your audience is ecstatic or terrified about? Addressing those issues in a meaningful way makes you the welcome contributor to an important discussion.

    Curiosity is one of the strongest of all human incentives. Once it’s been aroused, we can hardly sleep until we satisfy that curiosity.

    Have you ever heard of the Zeigarnik effect? It’s another psychological phenomenon that can boost your persuasiveness. When people are given incomplete information, such as a story that is cut off before the end, the brain feels a strong need to “close the loop.”

    This is why television shows and movies use cliffhanger endings. The audience just has to know what’s going to happen next.

    Make anyone who hears your claim wonder “How is that possible? How can she do that?” Their curiosity will compel them to find out your secret. Instead of chasing clients and customers, now they are coming to you, wanting to hear more.

    When customers are seeking you (instead of the other way around), resistance dissolves.

    Instead of trying to pound your way through the front gates with hype or pressure tactics, these points of leverage empower you to sneak past the defenses that stand between you and making the sale.

    Use them wisely.

    This article is a modified excerpt from Donnie Bryant’s new e-book Stealth Salesmanship: Non-Pushy Persuasion for Professionals. To find out more about the book and how Stealth Selling can help your business promote your products and services without resorting to gimmicks or fads, visit StealthSellingBook.com.

    Donnie Bryant
    Content Management Director
    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals

    Filed Under: Management


    About the Author: Donnie Bryant is a direct response copywriter and marketing consultant. He specializes in improving businesses' sales and profitability by creating compelling marketing messages and strategies. Find out more about Donnie at http://donnie-bryant.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @donniebryant and connect with him on Google Plus at +donniebryant.

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