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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Boston, Massachusetts

In our most recent blog, we introduced strip-lining as one of our favorite sales techniques under the Negative Reverse Selling umbrella. Remember, Negative Reverse Selling is doing the exact opposite of what your prospect is expecting from a sales person, thus throwing them off guard.  Continuing down that Negative Reverse Selling path, let’s take another look at setting a neutral prospect into motion by strip-lining or throwing him or her some more line to swim about before you reel them in.

Picture this: A prospect says to a salesperson, “We’re pretty happy with our current vendor, but I’m always open-minded to new ideas. What do you have?”  The prospect expects the salesperson to say something like, “Well, let me tell you about our new product line and see if there’s any interest there.”  That’s exactly what most salespeople do. They go through a litany of features and benefits for all the different new products, only to end up with this from the prospect: “You’re really on your game. I’ll think about that. I might get back to you next week. Just leave some of your literature and I’ll be in touch.”  Or the prospect might say, “I really couldn’t say without seeing something in writing. Can you draft me up a proposal on that and send it over?”

Chances they will ever hear back from the prospect are slim and none. Typically, salespeople are so excited at that point that they go back to the office and tell their manager, “Got one, boss.”  But do they, really?  The salesperson enthusiastically prepares and sends the proposal, and then chases the neutral prospect for week, until the prospect no longer responds to voice messages or emails. As long as a neutral prospect remains neutral, they rarely buy anything. Your job is to get them moving, set the pendulum into motion.
Traditionally, when prospects are approached by a salesperson, one who focuses on features and benefits, free consulting, giving a quote, and maybe going into the hard sell, a neutral prospect may only buy in spite of those approaches, not because of them. If you’re still selling this way, you’re working way too hard.

Now, take the same scenario, but use a strip-lining technique to disarm the prospect. You have that neutral prospect who says he’s pretty happy with his current vendor, but he’s always willing to look at new ideas and asks what you’ve got.  Using strip-lining, you say, “Maybe nothing. Sounds like you’re pretty happy with the way things are going already. Could you be kind enough to tell me a little bit about what you like about the way things are going right now?” 

Now sit back and listen to what they say.  Let the prospect answer your question. Frequently, when you strip-line in this manner, something very interesting happens. After the prospect shares what he likes about his vendor, he may also offer up something he doesn’t like about his vendor. However, even if that doesn’t happen, the strip-line makes it easier for the prospect to respond honestly to the next question, which may sound like this:  “Look, it sounds like you’re pretty happy and we’re not going to do any business, but I’m curious. Nothing is perfect. If you had to pick one thing that could be better, what would it be?”

At this point the prospect is likely to share something he doesn’t like about the current vendor.  Therefore, you can now use Pain Funnel techniques to see whether there’s pain or not. You may respond with, “Could you be nice enough to tell me more about that?”   More often than not, the prospect will open up and share more information with you.

So, what happened? You essentially set the pendulum in motion, toward the negative, pushing the prospect away from doing business with you. But now, without the prospect’s knowledge, a conversation has opened up about his problems.  Moreover, you can start using Pain Funnel questions, more strip-lining, and other Sandler sales techniques to see whether they have any deep-seated emotional pain hiding behind those problems.  Eventually, with more training, and practice, your gut will start to tell you which Sandler techniques work the best in a given situation.

In our next blog, we will delve further into the Negative Reverse Selling Process, and see how we take a negative prospect to the negative side.   Remember, two negatives do make a positive.

Want to learn more about Negative Reverse Selling, and other Sandler selling 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:  CrashAClass  to attend free of charge.

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