Working with Hostile Buyers

hostile buyersIt’s inevitable that you’ll eventually find yourself working with hostile buyers. Confronted by a buyer who has suddenly turned hostile, average salespeople get anxious about their own dignity. If it requires shouting before withdrawal, they shout; if their dignity allows a silent stomp out, they silently stomp out—to oblivion with that particular buyer in either case.

Champions see the situation in an entirely different light. They know at once that their buyers are in pain—that countering the buyer’s hostility with more hostility is non-productive—that their own dignity is beside the point. As human beings they want to help relieve the other person’s pain; as business people, they want to move that pain aside so they can get on with business.

Here’s how Champions win by casting themselves as the good guys: They keep calm, listen carefully, and speak to the heart of the matter at the first opportunity.

“Jim, I’m getting the feeling that you’re really more troubled by something that has nothing to do with me or my company than you are about what we’ve been discussing. [Don’t pause.] I’d like to understand what’s bothering you. Why don’t you lay a little of that burden on my shoulders? I think that’ll make it easier for both of us. Getting things like that off your chest is something you just have to do, and talking to someone not directly involved can be a great way to clarify your thinking about a challenge. Would you like to tell me about it?”

Speak clearly as you say these words, and don’t hurry them. The hostile buyer usually waffles at first—denies that he has a problem or pretends to ignore your statement. But, then, if you’ve demonstrated genuine empathy, chances are that he’ll drift into talking about what’s bothering him. Once he gets started, he’ll probably use up the available time telling you all about it. Don’t worry. He’ll invite you back, or he’ll say something like, “Enough of my personal problems. Let’s get back to the matter at hand.”

There’s almost always a way to win buyers over when you get yourself out of the way.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

For more information on how to work effectively with buyers, read When Buyers Say No.

Arouse Emotions, Don’t Sell Logic

No skill that you can acquire in sales will enhance your earning power more than learning how to arouse emotions in your buyers in ways that are positive to the sale. The exact words you use will depend on your offering, your personality, your buyers, and market conditions. Positive emotions trigger sales; negative emotions destroy sales. As you work at developing the skills to evoke emotions in your potential clients, always keep that concept in mind. You can destroy sales as rapidly as you can create them through the clumsy use of, or the lack of control over, the emotional setting. Also remember that your actions, manners, words (and how you say them), your grooming, and your clothes are all things that trigger emotions in your future clients — whether you want them to or not.

The mere fact that you’re a salesperson may arouse negative emotions and people could start fighting you consciously or not. Your future clients are either emotionally for you or against you right at the get-go — and you can divide your chances of selling them by a hundred if they’re against you.

To understand the emotions that sell, sit down with your children and study the television commercials they watch. You’ll see advertising that goes for the emotions. Logic in sales is a gun without a trigger. You can twirl it all you care to, but you can’t fire it. Emotion has a trigger. You can hit a target with it. Every time you generate a positive emotion, you’re pulling the trigger on another accurate shot at closing the sale.

What is the emotional process that leads to a purchase? It begins with a new development in the buyer’s self-image. That is, the buyers see themselves in a new way — enjoying the benefits of your product or service.

If the projected purchase is small in relation to the buyer’s income, the self-image change need only be small. But if the purchase is a large one, the change in self-image that makes the purchase possible will be large. Such changes can occur very quickly. They can take place within a few minutes, or even in a matter of seconds.

Champion salespeople are adept at spotting these changes in self-image as they occur during sales presentations. They are quick to reinforce the buyers’ realization that they can have, enjoy, deserve, need, and are worthy of the marvelous new goodie they like. Do that, and they won’t just like your product; they’ll want it, need it, and realize they can’t get along without it — then they’ll buy it.

Excerpted from “How to Master the Art of Selling.”

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (