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Sep 23
2017

Negative Selling

Posted by: Steve Marr

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I’ve never been a fan of negative selling. I recently encountered a sales pitch from a guy who writes advertising copy for websites. The sales pitch commenced by shredding current content and layering criticism after criticism. In reviewing the pages, some of the criticism was well-placed. However “Ken” was pretty angry about having his ad copy treated in such a brutal way.

 

Ken asked me for a quick perspective about whether his website was really that bad. I suggested that there were several opportunities for immediate improvement. I referred him to a copy specialist who I believed could be more effective helping him create exactly the right marketing hooks on his site.  

While some may respond to this type of negative selling, my instinct tells me it turns many off. 

When I begin to work with a client I may notice many things that are ineffective or incorrect. However, I need to be careful that I don’t harangue on too many things.  My style is to assess what’s working and what’s not working. Then, I prefer to reinforce the positive aspects of my client’s business.  

One person I worked with recently was struggling.  Quickly I recognized that on the surface there were a number of things wrong. However, he had been in business over five years. I pointed out that he had already survived considerably longer than the average business start-up. 

After I reinforce the positive aspects to a business owner I start identifying items that could make a difference and focus on those limited objectives. If I start the laundry list of 28 things that need to be corrected in the next 30 days, my client would feel overwhelmed and simply disconnect. None of us can handle that many things.

King Solomon wrote, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength.” (Proverbs 17:22, NLT) If you want to help a customer overcome a problem, give them hope. My experience is that when someone shreds everything you’re doing at the get-go, it isn’t effective and turns most people off.  Start identifying a limited area needing improvement.  Demonstrate to your customer how you can help them achieve a better place with your assistance. When you win their confidence, you’re closer to winning their business.

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