How to Handle the Bah HumBugs

Michele Warg
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When Ebenezer Scrooge says, “Bah, humbug,’’ in the Charles Dickens story “A Christmas Carol,” he is expressing a negative attitude about Christmas, not trying to get rid of a persistent salesperson. Many potential clients today, however, have this same attitude toward sales professionals. They have a strong sales resistance, and convincing them to buy is not easy. To overcome the reluctance of these bah-humbug types, salespeople must use proven techniques.

The starting point for overcoming someone’s sales resistance is discovering their sales objections. This may require a certain amount of probing on your part. Not every potential client feels comfortable stating his objections in a direct way. If you are uncertain about why a prospect is not interested in your product or service, ask relevant questions. For example, if you think a prospect is resisting due to price, simply say, “Is price the main obstacle?” Once you communicate effectively and learn the cause of the prospect's sales resistance, it’s easier to develop a strategy to overcome his reluctance.

In many sales negotiations or presentations, price is a key impediment to closing the sale. If this happens with one of your prospects, find out what price he considers satisfactory. Perhaps it is possible for you to meet his price. If not, focus on the quality of your product or service. Show the prospect how he benefits from the superior quality of what you are offering. Once you convince a client that purchasing from your company helps his bottom line, sales resistance usually melts away.

Another effective technique for winning over the doubters during a sales presentation is to use persuasive words or phrases. Research shows that people respond more positively to certain phrases. For example, use language that connotes confidence and assurance. You want your prospect to feel that you sincerely believe in your product or service and are not simply trying to make a sale. Sprinkle the conversation with confident words and phrases, such as definitely, absolutely, industry leader and yes. Conversely, avoid language that makes you appear uncertain. Keep words such as maybe, perhaps and possibly out of the conversation.

One of the best ways to overcome sales objections is to offer the prospect a list of satisfied customers. Near the end of your pitch, tell the client that you have many customers who are happy to provide a reference. Prospects with tenacious sales resistance may need more than your assurances that purchasing your product or service a good decision. Letting the client talk with your satisfied customers might be the last piece of confirmation he requires to agree to the sale.

Although winning over a “bah, humbug” prospect with a strong sales resistance may seem like a tough assignment, it is definitely doable. Just follow these key tips to turn those difficult prospects into long-term customers.


Photo courtesy of ddpavumba at



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