The Reverse Sell, Per David Sandler

A good intro book to sales is David Sandler’s, You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bicycle at a Seminar. Sandler launched a franchise system that teaches people to sell. It’s a very expensive system, but many professionals say good things about it. Personally, I found it a bit “salesy” when I took it, and not as geared to building professional relationships as I would have liked. It was better for product sales or one-time sales, in my judgment.

However, the system includes some terrific ideas that make sales easier. One of them, which may come across as a bit gimmicky when you read it in his book, focuses on what he calls the reverse sell. The reverse sell is all about stepping back and not being too anxious to sell your services. At its best, it even means encouraging the prospect NOT to buy. For instance, “Well, it sounds like you aren’t interested in moving forward with me…”

I’ve found that this reverse sell works excellently when it happens naturally (not as a gimmick or technique). It lets the prospect believe they are in the driver’s seat, and also sets you up to be on equal footing with them (because you don’t need the work, although you are happy to have it).

On Friday, a long-time client called to ask me to do some work for them. The work is not particularly compelling to me, nor did I find it to be worth it for the client to pay my fees for the service.

I told them that I didn’t want to do the work, and that there’s no way they could get the kind of value I want to provide at the fees I’d need to charge.

Guess what happened?

They tried to sell ME on working for them. They asked me what it would take to get me to give them a few days of my time (and travel, which I hate to do). They proposed ways to make the work more interesting for me, and more valuable for them.

So by the end of the call, I had a proposal going for 3 (three!) times the price initially on the table, and much more interesting work.

I don’t necessarily advise that you make this kind of approach part of your “technique.” You should read Sandler’s book if you want to learn more about doing that. Sometimes I say something like “I can’t tell if you are interested in moving forward or not” or “You don’t seem to be serious about spending money to solve your problem” to test how serious the prospect really is.

But in general those types of statements work best when I really feel that way, can say them authentically without feeling like I’m acting, and have a really solid relationship already in place.

Anyway, the reverse sell can be a valuable strategy to use when the timing is right and the relationship is solid.

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  • Jan Korbel

    Nice and true point. I unconsciously used it few times and as you said if you mean it it may do wonders.

  • Mike Xyntha

    Working for an ICT-company myself, I often find myself trying too hard to convince someone to ‘stay up to date’.

    This is even harder because most of our clients are constantly on the move and can only be reached by phone.

    In keeping every conversation short and to the point, I usually get the wanted result. And, same as Jan Korbel, i unconsciously used the ‘Reverse Sell’ technique too.

    Great article Andrew!

  • hdsol

    I did this once by accident. I was trying to avoid doing some consulting work for an ex employer. I knew that the job was going to be more of a p.i.t.a. then it was worth. I bid them high and told them that they would have better luck going a different route. As my luck would have it they coose me anyway. They were in a pickle and they knew i could get the job done faster then they could train somone else to do it. The up side to the project was a large pool of contacts that still generate business for me. The down side is that this company was the reason I met my EX-WIFE. Live and Learn. at least I made some money out of the deal. Second wife is a much better investment. (Nicer too).

    I always found it to be a bit ironic that that clients who we high ball or try to turn away end up being some of the better money makers. I wonder if it is the theroy that when you push somone away they want you even more. Make a client feel that they want to take their business by playing with their very human nature. Who said that Psych class was a waste of time. :)

  • http://www.dannyfoo.com/minifolio/ etsuko

    Good ol reverse psychology. Really funny when it happens without you actually knowing it at the end.

    Too bad it can’t be practiced everywhere though. :P

  • JMorrow

    I’ve tried this technique on both big and small sales. In my experience, it works much better on large sales. For example, when trying to sell a little web site package for $50, the reverse sell hasn’t worked so well. On the other hand, I also do a ton of real estate investments, and the reverse sell works wonderfully when attracting partners. It’s a risk reversal technique. If people are absolutely certain that I don’t need their money, then they’re certain that its safe with me. Because of that, I get more partnership offers than any investor in Charlotte.

  • http://www.dynamicfunctions.com Kadence

    It makes sense that you will receive a disproportionate amount of your profits from this technique, because it involves charging more.

  • nseller

    I desperately want to find out the list of all David Sandlers books. I was told he has written several books but I only know of two: You can’t teach … and Close the Deal. I would truly be gretful for any one tell me the name of any other books that they know from sandler.

    Thanks

  • Anonymous

    I desperately want to find out the list of all David Sandlers books. I was told he has written several books but I only know of two: You can’t teach … and Close the Deal. I would truly be gretful for any one tell me the name of any other books that they know from sandler.

    Thanks

    allornone2008@yahoo.com

  • Joe Munzer

    “Anyway, the reverse sell can be a valuable strategy to use when the timing is right and the relationship is solid.”

    The Sandler Selling System is based entirely on the relationship being solid. The reverse sell is just a piece of the puzzle.

    When the system is being used properly, this technique can be used at anytime on any type of sale. Also, you don’t go real negative unless the prospect is already negative. That’s what I’ve found anyway :)