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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Boston, Massachusetts

In the past few blogs, we’ve been talking about a very effective sales technique called Reversing. When using reversing the salesperson answer a prospect's question with a question. When done properly it is very disarming and will result in the salesperson gathering more information. When done properly the prospect will feel like the salesperson really cares. The ultimate goal of reversing is to have the prospect quickly feel at ease and reveal their personal pain or reveal they the prospect doesn't have any pain. Remember, no pain equals no sale. So, you can save a lot of time by using reversing.

The Sandler method of reversing is simple and can be implemented with three simple steps when first talking to the prospect:

1.  Give a “stroke” or compliment:  “Hey, that’s a great question,” or “I get that question a lot.”
2.  Repeat:  The second part of a reverse is to repeat a prospect’s question or use a softening statement, such as, “Do you mind if I ask you a question before I answer that?”
3.  Question:  Propose the question you want to ask the prospect

To understand how the “stroke” works, picture an angry bull behind a heavy-duty fence; the fence is there to protect you from this angry bull. Do you think the bull is going to charge at the heavy-duty fence to get to you?  Not very likely.  A stroke or a compliment, works the same way.  It protects you from a potentially angry prospect, because you have just said something nice.

Softening is very similar, it lowers your risk of making the prospect angry or leery. By saying, “do you mind if I ask a question”, you are paying respect and asking for permission. The prospect is most likely going to answer affirmatively and let you ask the question, if you have the proper pitch, tonality, inflection and volume in your questioning. Practice and perfect these three steps, and you will go a long way towards closing more deals.

Most prospects expect sales people to pitch them with features and benefits, so when you change that approach with friendly questions, you will most likely be warmly received. With that said, always remember that selling is like acting. It’s not just the words that make reversing work, it’s the combination of the words and how you say it together that gets you the results you desire.  Think President Ronald Reagan, also an accomplished actor.

Let’s look at several quick examples of reverses to help you understand the concept even better. I’ve marked 1, 2, or 3 throughout the question to show how these reverses are set up. Note how each is constructed to soften the response before proposing the reversing question.

1 Hey, that’s a great question; there are a lot of different ways we could go with what you’re asking. 2  Before I answer that, do you mind if I ask you something? I get the feeling you had something in mind already, did you?

That’s a very interesting question. But before I dive in, can you help me with something?Why did you ask me about that particular issue at this point in the conversation? What made that important to you?

OK, it makes sense why you’d ask that. Can you help me just a little? Why did you ask that question just now?

Reversing means you aren’t talking about your offer, instead, you are asking simple questions relevant to the prospect and designed to uncover the motive behind the prospect's questions to you. The prospect will feel like you want to figure out the challenges they face and help him or her overcome them. Because reversing helps you maintain bonding and rapport, the buyer will most likely help you figure out whether your product or service is a good fit, so nobody wastes their time. As a rule of thumb, it takes three or more reverses to get to the pain.

A reverse doesn’t have to be long and wordy in order to be effective; sometimes, short and concise works just as well. For example, a prospect might be talking when she suddenly reaches a stopping point. You can just say: “And?” She will take your cue and lead you down to the next layer of what she’s really thinking.

By the way, reversing is extremely effective during pricing discussions. For example:  Prospect: “You guys are expensive,” or, “That seems quite high.”
Salesperson: “You must be telling me that for a reason.”

Without a reverse, you have no idea what’s behind that comment.  A lot of times, the person will respond to your reverse by saying, “You must be pretty good!” What you thought was an objection was not an objection at all but a recognition of quality.  On the other hand, the buyer says, “You’re expensive, and I honestly don’t think I can afford you.” This also is helpful information to you, so you won't waste time proposing a service or product they aren't going to buy.

To have prospects handle this objection, reverse or go back and re-investigate their pain. You’ll always find a direct relationship between how much pain they relive and how much they are willing to pay to make that pain go away.   This is where Reversing can be most effectively used.

Want to learn more about Reversing and other Sandler techniques? Check out our upcoming workshops and sign-up for one at no cost to you. Here's a link to our Eventbrite page, where you can find a workshop on a date and at a location convenient for you.. Be sure to use the Promotional Code: 10Greg to attend free of charge.

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