Your Prospects’ Anti-Sales Defense System

Understand How They Control the Sales Process and How you can Neutralize It

When sales and business development professionals meet a new prospective customer, they immediately want to be seen as trusted advisors and not as salespeople. They want the respect, credibility, and influence that comes with being viewed as a trusted advisor, and not the opposite perceptions generally associated with a “salesperson”.

Of course, your customers eventually see you as a trusted advisor, but what’s their first impression when they first meet you? Are you being seen as the trusted advisor you want to be, or does it take you time to reach that status? Are you being seem more as a salesperson than you want? You don’t have to wonder, because the answer is easy. Your new prospect’s behavior tells you everything you need to know.

First of all, keep in mind that for most professionals their prospect’s been in more sales meetings than they have, and our prospects usually know the sales process just as well as we do. It’s not a pleasant experience being on the receiving end of sales behavior, so prospects have developed the perfect Anti-Sales Defense System to manage salespeople and the whole sales process. As soon as they even smell the signs of “selling” it triggers the defense system.

If your strategy isn’t designed to neutralize their defense system from your first words or emails, then you’re probably a victim of it. The reality is that you have to beat their defense system to be more credible, respected, and influential than your competitors. You can rely on the hope that your value proposition is better than everyone else, but it’s more likely your prospects see you all more alike than different. The real opportunity for differentiation is your behavior, because half of what they’re buying is You.

The Prospect’s Anti-Sales Defense System

Although it’s felt as a general barrier of skepticism and distrust, it’s actually made up of five distinct and powerful principles.

1. Don’t Trust Anything the Salesperson Says. Their self-serving motives drive them to tell you whatever they think you want to hear to give them your business. It is clearly a Buyer-Beware World, so be skeptical and ask for references.

2. Reveal the Least Amount of Information. Play your cards close to the vest and keep salespeople on a need-to-know basis. What you tell them can, and will, be used against you.

3. Leverage the Vendors Against Each Other. Get at least 3 quotes, because salespeople only give you the version of the story that makes them look best, forcing you to get insights from at least two or three competing vendors to get an objective view of reality.

4. Make Excuses for why you Can’t make a Commitment at this time. The salesperson wants you to make a decision as soon as possible, but of course, you need to “think about it” to buy time to shop their competitors and make them sweat. You can also stall by asking for more information and references.

5. Protect Others from Sales Behavior. Insulate your superiors, and any potential referrals, from this unattractive behavior. Also, if they ask, be sure to tell them you are a qualified buyer and the key decision maker.

Have you seen any of this prospect behavior before? If so, it’s in response to your behavior. If you don’t like their behavior, change yours.

The anti-sales defense system is specifically designed to protect against the natural behavior pattern used for persuasion. That pattern is based on three principle behaviors:

1. Asking Questions to gather information to understand your prospect’s circumstances;

2. Presenting Features and Benefits to ensure they understand the value your offerings;

3. Overcoming Objections to clarify your message and remove any misconceptions they may have about your offerings.

The problem with this behavior is that it systematically builds DIStrust. When people are exposed to these behaviors they immediately realize that another person is pushing their agenda on them and they should beware. Ironically, all sales training is based on this behavior pattern, and it’s exactly what triggers the Anti-Sales Defense System. (You can learn more details in the article Three Common Sales Behaviors that Create Distrust.)

So, if these three common behaviors are what trigger the behaviors we don’t like from our prospects, then what can we do to avoid them get them to see us differently? The key is to entirely replace this behavior pattern with the trusted advisor behavior pattern, and your prospects will immediately, and unconsciously respond by assigning you greater respect, seeing you as more credible, and allowing you the influence you’re after. Unfortunately, the trusted advisor behavior pattern is not obvious, and probably not what you think. That’s a discussion too big for this article, but you can learn more details in the article Vendor to Trusted Advisor in your First Meeting.

There are dozens of powerful psychological dynamics taking place in all your client and prospect meetings, whether you’re aware of them or not. If you aren’t making them work for you, they’re probably working against you. Are you ready to begin operating at another level?

Related Articles
* Vendor to Trusted Advisor in your First Meeting
* Three Common Sales Behaviors that Promote Distrust
* How to Build a Referral Machine
* Why You Don’t get the Customer Referrals You Should
* Open More Doors with Trojan Horses

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