Sales Resistance: How to Respond When Prospects Are Putting You Off


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Sales resistance happens as prospects naturally raise their defenses during a sales call. But they do not want you to notice they are putting you off. Are you, the inside sales representative, really being blown off when a prospect tells you to call back in a certain number of months? Is the prospect truly likely to be ready later if they ask you to send information? Or is your potential customer just not ready to close the sale?

It can be hard to tell. In some cases, you may be talking to a prospect who really does not qualify as a lead – this prospect will never buy. In other cases you may have a prospect who will be ready eventually. Finally, your prospect may be waiting for something that you must understand and address in order to close the sale.

Sales Resistance: How to Recognize Common Signs

You can recognize common sales resistance because it will look like one of these behaviors:
• The customer asks for a call back in 90 days
• The contact requests information to learn more about your company
• You are not able to move the sales process forward – you’re feeling ineffective but you don’t quite see why

How to Respond to Common Sales Resistance

Once you recognize that the prospect is blowing you off, you have a number of techniques to help you address their natural defenses and move into a more productive conversation.

These questions can help you move from blind resistance to finding the next appropriate step. Ask:

1. What do expect will change in 90 days? If your prospect cannot give you a reason to call you back in the time period they state, you maybe talking to someone who is going to ignore you no matter what. Or you may be talking to someone whose situation may change, though the person can not say how exactly.

2. What specific information can I send you? This puts the ball back in the customer’s court to tell you what type of information they looking for and why they want the information. This gives you greater insight you can use to determine their true interests.

When Trigger Events Eliminate Sales Resistance

It is possible that something needs to happen to spark interest in your offer – a trigger event. It is very possible that the customer is just not ready to explore your option until they are faced with a new situation. A trigger event elicits an immediate need for your product or service when that need was not present or urgent before.

Here are examples from two cases in which my own efforts were being resisted for months. These prospects were in an ongoing nurturing phase, in spite of their lack of response for a period of time. In both cases a trigger event caused each one to reach out to me. One prospect was introducing a new product and required outbound prospecting consulting help. Another had a growing concern within their inside sales organization, which finally came to a head. They reached out with an interest in pursuing our inside sales services.

What is the point here?

1. Prospects may be keeping you at arm’s length when they request additional information, or they may delay talking with
you for a period of time. They may be trying to avoid you indefinitely, and then they may not be

2. Your prospects may require nurturing until a trigger event occurs, which makes pursuing your solution a priority.

3. Find out if your buyer’s resistance is shielding needs they are reluctant to discuss. Find out if any changes are
coming which would trigger immediate interest.

Knowing different ways to explore resistance opens more opportunities for you to be the provider of choice when your prospect is ready.

What are your thoughts ?

Elisa Ciarametaro
Elisa Ciarametaro is an Inside Sales Strategist and Principal of Exceed Sales in New York, NY. Sales and marketing executives work with Elisa to create strategies, inside sales teams and outbound prospecting initiatives that exceed prior results. Companies gain reliable market intelligence, well-qualified leads, more profitable pipelines and more accurate revenue forecasting. She's been repeatedly named among 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management by the Sales Lead Management Association.


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