Why Negative Reverse Selling Could Be Your Secret Sales Weapon


If you work in sales, it’s likely that you’ve come across and experimented with various sales methodologies. One such exciting approach is “negative reverse selling,” where you tell people something contrary to your usual intentions.

It’s all about turning things around in a friendly way to achieve your desired outcome, it is a component of the Sandler Sales Methodology. 

This article delves into the concept of employing negative reverse selling techniques.

Let’s dive into the details together!

What is Negative Reverse Selling?

Negative reverse selling involves utilizing a “reverse psychology” technique in sales discussions to assess a potential customer’s determination. This method employs questioning and making statements that contradict the objective of finalizing a sale. It capitalizes on the principles of reverse psychology to engage potential customers in a different and less confrontational manner during the sales process.

Reverse psychology, as a concept, entails promoting a belief or behavior contrary to the desired outcome, anticipating that this approach will motivate the individual being persuaded to act in the desired manner.

In simpler terms, it is encouraging someone to do the opposite of what you want them to do or engaging in actions that typically result in the opposite outcome.

During the sales process, prospective customers often raise concerns, objections, and inquiries that sales representatives must navigate to achieve a successful sale. In conventional situations, sales representatives are required to address those situations and navigate challenging questions.

Frequently, potential customers are prepared to resist conventional sales tactics, anticipating attempts to persuade them. They may hold a skeptical view of salespeople, associating them with the stereotypical image of pushy used car salesmen, and consequently, they remain determined not to be swayed, thus offering resistance, regardless of the sales pitch’s quality. 

How Does Negative Reverse Selling Work?

While you typically aim to overcome objections from prospects, they often remain ready to resist your sales tactics.

Negative reverse selling, on the other hand, involves aligning with the prospect’s point of view and then using reverse psychology to guide them toward convincing themselves to make a purchase.

In a negative reverse selling scenario, the sales representative takes a different approach by agreeing with the prospect or prompting them to elaborate without attempting to counter their objections.

This process consists of two components:

  1. A “softener statement” that acknowledges the validity of the prospect’s concern and ensures that their perspective is understood.
  2. A negative statement is phrased in a manner that opposes the desired position or conversation direction, utilizing reverse psychology.

The softening statement serves to ease the prospect’s defenses and disarm them, ensuring that the subsequent negative statement doesn’t trigger negative reactions.

Examples of softening statements include expressions like:

  • “I comprehend your point.”
  • “I see where you’re coming from.”
  • “What this means is…”
  • “So, if I understand correctly…”
  • “Your concern is entirely valid.”
  • “You’re absolutely correct.”

Here’s an example that might help you understand this technique better:

Imagine a situation where a potential customer seems to be making excuses to avoid buying your product. Instead of flat-out saying no, they’re asking about features you haven’t discussed yet.

Customer: “Does this product come with the XYZ feature?”
You: “Well, that’s an interesting question. Why do you want to know about that?”
Customer: “I’m hoping to get a product with this specific feature.”
You: “Got it. Mind sharing why that feature matters so much to you?”
Customer: “It actually helps me deal with the problems I face with my ABC issues.”

In this example, the idea is to really listen to what your prospect is saying. By asking them to explain their needs without trying to immediately sell your product, you get a better understanding of what they’re looking for. Then you can figure out how to address their needs effectively.

Note: Exercise caution in employing this method to avoid coming across as impolite. Utilize it judiciously and tactfully, ensuring its application is restricted to situations where there’s a potential for advancing your deal positively.

How to Do Negative Reverse Selling?

Follow this step-by-step approach to do negative reverse selling.

Step 1: Mastering Usage and Preparation

The initial step involves determining the scenarios in which you’ll employ this strategy. Are you planning to use it for handling deal-breakers, objections, or both? Practice alongside your colleagues to develop the right rhythm and approach.

Employing this technique to convey that your product might not be suitable can be daunting, and this is why honing your skills and pinpointing its application are crucial.

Before expanding its usage to other objections, ensure your comfort level with its implementation in your primary target situations.

As time goes on, employing it instinctively when encountering vague “maybe” responses will become second nature.

Step 2: Initiate with Empathetic Softening

Once you’ve committed to utilizing this strategy, it’s time to construct your script. Commence by establishing an empathetic softening statement to convey understanding.

Notice how our examples consistently began with phrases like “I understand” or “That makes sense.”

These phrases foster a sense of being heard and acknowledged by the prospect. Following this, you can transition into the negative statement.

Step 3: Present the Negative Perspective

After creating a gentle entrance, articulate why you believe this particular moment might not align with the prospect’s needs or request clarification to gauge their actual interest.

Step 4: Adapt and Respond Swiftly

Prospects can offer diverse responses, so it’s essential to have your script well-prepared. What will you say if they strive to convince themselves to opt for your product? How about addressing disinterest or managing a negative reaction? Being ready for various potential reactions from your prospect is crucial.

It’s vital to be equipped with adept responses, ensuring you navigate the conversation effectively, regardless of their feedback.

This approach helps you engage with prospects in a more effective and strategic manner, allowing you to lead the conversation toward a more transparent and mutually beneficial outcome. 

Here’s a simple analogy to better understand this concept. 

The Fishing Analogy

David H. Sandler utilized a fishing analogy to provide a clearer understanding of this sales technique.

Envision yourself fishing. You sense a nibble on the line. However, instead of swiftly setting the hook, you grant the fish some leeway to run.

Think of yourself as a patient angler. Allow the fish to take the bait, letting it essentially hook itself.

The concept of the negative reverse sales technique is akin to guiding a conversation toward your prospects’ desired direction. Once achieved, all that’s left is to smoothly draw them in.

This strategy also proves advantageous when your prospect begins displaying interest. It’s vital not to pounce on the opportunity to make a sale right away.

Immediate action might startle them. Instead, take a counterintuitive approach as opposed to the expected behavior of a salesperson.

Provide them with room to persuade themselves about the necessity of your product or service.

For instance, you can inquire, “Have you genuinely considered this?” Observe how your client endeavors to convince you of the reasons behind purchasing your product or opting for your service.

When Should you Use Negative Reverse Selling?

Apply it early but sparingly,” says Kevin Hallenbeck.

As per his insights, some salespeople mistakenly employ negative reverse selling too late, leading to its excessive use. Furthermore, when the technique is introduced too far along in the process, prospects might provide vague responses or lead you astray.

Keep in mind that your prospects usually begin with a negative stance. In fact, psychological tendencies highlight our brain’s negative bias.

This initial disposition often causes us to resist sales efforts at the outset. Hence, it’s more effective to implement negative reverse selling earlier in the conversation.

For instance, if you’re presenting a service that automates client onboarding to a prospect:

Prospect: “offers a superficial response”
You: “You’re not looking to simplify your client onboarding process, correct?”

This direct and challenging query can catch your prospect off guard. Their likely response would be: “Actually, I do want to streamline my process. How can your service assist?”

Through the utilization of negative reverse selling, you can swiftly uncover the underlying truth. Are they genuinely interested in collaborating with you or not?

This technique can be employed in email communications or cold calls. It aids in filtering out unproductive leads, allowing you to shift your focus toward promising prospects. You can also couple this with social selling, where relationships are nurtured through online platforms like LinkedIn to engage prospects.

This harmonious blend fosters a two-way conversation, propelling conversions and fostering trust, making it a dynamic strategy for contemporary sales success.

Nevertheless, there’s a caveat!

Avoid excessive utilization. Remember, timing is paramount.

Initially, you must possess emotional intelligence and attention to detail to determine when to apply it.

Your prospect’s disposition evolves from negative to neutral to positive. Hence, adapting the technique to their current mindset is crucial.

Real-Life Examples of Premium Companies Incorporating Negative Reverse Selling 

Some examples to motivate you to employ negative reverse selling for your B2B SaaS.

1. Apple

Prospect: “iPhones are quite expensive.”

Apple Representative: “You’re absolutely right; our products are an investment. If your priority is a budget-friendly option, there are alternatives available. However, let’s discuss the unique value and benefits that come with an iPhone.”

2. Tesla

Prospect: “Electric cars seem to have limited charging infrastructure.” 

Tesla Salesperson: “You’re correct, the charging network is a consideration. If immediate charging convenience is your primary concern, traditional gasoline cars might be a better choice for you. But let’s explore how Tesla’s charging ecosystem is rapidly expanding.”

3. Amazon Prime

Prospect: “Amazon Prime membership comes with an annual fee.” 

Amazon Representative: “You’re right, there is a membership fee associated with Prime. If you’re focused on avoiding additional expenses, a fee-free shopping experience might be more suitable. However, let’s delve into the range of benefits Prime offers that might align with your shopping habits.”

4. Nike

Prospect: “Branded sports shoes are more expensive than other options.” 

Nike Sales Representative: “You’re spot on; our brand does come with a premium. If budget-conscious choices are your priority, there are more affordable footwear options available. Nevertheless, let’s discuss the unique technology and performance advantages our shoes provide.”

5. Starbucks

Prospect: “Specialty coffee at Starbucks seems pricey.” 

Starbucks Barista: “You’re absolutely right; our specialty beverages are priced higher due to their premium ingredients and craftsmanship. If cost-efficiency is key, you might consider alternatives. However, let’s explore the artisanal experience and quality behind our offerings.”

6. BMW

Prospect: “Luxury cars like BMWs are costly to maintain.” 

BMW Sales Consultant: “You’re correct, luxury car maintenance can be higher. If cost-effectiveness is your priority, there are other options available. But let’s delve into the advanced engineering and features that make BMW ownership unique.”

These examples illustrate how brands employ negative reverse selling to address concerns and reservations potential customers might have.

By acknowledging these concerns and providing transparent information, brands can create a more honest and productive dialogue that leads to informed decision-making.

Why Negative Reverse Selling is Effective?

  • It allows your prospects the freedom to refuse. 

This sales strategy empowers them to arrive at a decision based on their own preferences, not due to external pressure. Consequently, they tend to feel content with their choice.

  • The primary objective is to guide prospects toward the right decision. 

Rather than manipulating potential clients, the aim is to encourage them to be candid by posing more inquiries. Most importantly, the technique lets them take charge of their own choices.

  • Trust is established. 

Numerous successful sales methods exist, but the key is to cultivate trust with your prospects. 

Offer them room and respect their capacity to make independent decisions. Additionally, be ready to pose challenging queries to uncover the genuine truth. This approach ensures that you don’t squander precious time.

Tip: Read our blog if you’re looking for sales strategies that actually work in 2023.

Industries That Should Consider Negative Reverse Selling

  1. Technology and Software: Companies with intricate or advanced solutions can use this approach to address potential customers’ reservations about complexity. By allowing prospects to express their concerns, you can guide them toward the aspects that suit their needs.
  1. Financial Services: In industries dealing with investments, loans, or financial planning, prospects often hesitate due to fear of risk or confusion about complex terms. Employing negative reverse selling can help in understanding their concerns and aligning offerings accordingly.
  1. Health and Wellness: In the health and wellness sector, where individuals might be skeptical of certain products’ effectiveness, this approach can allow them to voice their doubts. This can open the door for a transparent conversation about the product’s benefits.
  1. Consulting and Professional Services: Businesses offering consulting or professional services can use negative reverse selling to engage with prospects unsure about their needs. By prompting them to express reservations, you can then tailor your offerings more precisely.
  1. Luxury Goods: High-end brands can adopt this technique to address prospects who are hesitant due to concerns about cost or value. By allowing them to voice their hesitations, you can highlight the unique benefits that justify the investment.
  1. Education and Training: Institutions offering educational courses or training programs can employ this technique to address doubts about program effectiveness or time commitment. By inviting prospects to share their hesitations, you can tailor your approach to their needs.
  1. Travel and Tourism: In the travel industry, where safety, destination suitability, and budget concerns might arise, negative reverse selling can provide a platform for prospects to voice their uncertainties. This can lead to a more targeted discussion about options that align with their preferences.

In Conclusion

Negative reverse selling proves to be a potent technique. Yet, it necessitates emotional intelligence and appropriate timing. It’s imperative to temper your own enthusiasm.

Steer clear of extensively discussing your product or service, and refrain from immediately providing solutions to the issues your prospect presents. 

Instead, focus on inquiring and analyzing. Grasp your potential client’s situation and their sought-after solution. If your product or service aligns with their needs, a sale will naturally ensue.

Trust the process.

And, in case you need any help in strategizing and incorporating this technique for your brand then feel free to book a free consultation with us.