How to Sell to People Who Don’t Want to Be Sold

There comes a time in virtually every market when the buying public becomes quite sophisticated.

These consumers have tried all kinds of things and none of them have performed as claimed.

New information and new choices are never more than a mouse click away for them.

And as a result, their normal distrust of advertisers is heightened and it becomes difficult to get their attention.

As soon as they land on an obviously promotional piece – full of vibrant promises and claims – they’re liable to have the “Yeah, sure” reaction and back-button away.

At best, they will push back mentally against every promise and proof element you present and eventually reject your sales argument.

It’s just human nature for people to resist being sold… to resist being told what to do… to resist ideas that are not their own.

The secret is to avoid giving your prospects anything to resist against…

Don’t try to sell them. Start by confirming their skepticism. Take sides with them, and show them you know how they’re feeling.

When you do this skillfully, you bypass the natural resistance your prospect has to accepting your sales arguments.

Again, it’s just human nature. When someone agrees with us, and then adds to our understanding, our attention is transfixed.

We willingly bond with such a person. We sell ourselves on their ideas, thinking they are our own. And we don’t even realize we are being sold.

How to court jaded, sophisticated buyers who don’t want to be sold…

Instead of creating the typical promotion that comes out of the gate full of claims and promises, make your copy look like an editorial piece.

Use a masthead that gives your Web page the appearance of an editorial publication. Use an appropriate publication name and associated visual cues… such as volume and edition numbers… article byline… and a newsy, informative headline rather than a blatantly promotional one.

In the editorial section of your promotion, you are simply confirming your prospect’s suspicions: “Yes, commercial interests are shamelessly spreading all kinds of damaging myths and half truths.” You are exposing them for what they are and showing people how to avoid being taken.

If you do this convincingly, you are creating the classic “us against them” dynamic. You and your readers are uniting against a common enemy – the makers of bogus claims and false promises.

Realize that one of the most powerful human compulsions is to be right. By definition, the problem they came to your website to solve is threatening their sense of rightness.

When you give them an enemy to blame, you are essentially feeding their compulsion to be right. At the same time, you are absolving them of guilt and responsibility for their predicament. They find this enormously comforting and empowering, and it draws them to you.

As you systematically confirm and expand on their suspicions about virtually every other option available to them, it is important to set up a central selling idea well before you transition to pitching your product or service.

All of the various flawed solutions fail because they are missing something fundamental to resolving the problem. At some level, there is a very simple, easy to understand reason why they fail. Insiders know the secret. Outsiders do not.

Example in a promotion selling a nutritional supplement: “The problem with all of these approaches is that they attack the symptom of the disease, but do nothing to eradicate the cause.”

Well, before even mentioning you have something for sale, you are installing a set of buying criteria, and drawing your prospects to a conclusion or set of conclusions that support a purchasing decision.

And in the process, you are building an ideological fence around your prospects… inoculating them against your competition.

It doesn’t hurt at all if the common denominator behind your prospect’s previous failure to solve his problem seems obvious. Ideally, you want it to be such a natural and intuitive conclusion that your prospect will wonder how he could have missed it.

This naturally opens a rift in his brain… causing him to question everything else he has come to believe about his problem prior to encountering your promotion. It shatters his sense of certainty.

This is an uncomfortable feeling. Your prospect will be very motivated to regain his lost sense of confidence in his understanding of the problem he seeks to solve. The natural reaction is to invest more authority in YOU, his enlightener. And hang on your every word.

Deep down, even the most skeptical of your prospects wants to believe…

If you’re dealing with truly targeted traffic, your website visitors are desperate for a solution. And their resistance is surprisingly superficial, merely a perimeter defense mechanism that can be easily neutralized.

Once their BS radar is deactivated, your prospects will be ready and willing to consume your sales pitch and get involved with you and your product. At this stage, you seamlessly transition from an apparently objective evaluation of the facts to a demonstration of how your specific product or service meets the established buying criteria.

[Ed. Note: Daniel Levis is a top marketing consultant, direct-response copywriter, and publisher of the highly acclaimed marketing periodical Persuasion Mastery Club.]
  • Peter

    Well Daniel,

    I don’t know the date of this article. I do know however, that it’s timeless…

    And priceless..

    Strange that no one told you here yet that you are a great marketer.

    Peter. One of your clients.

    • ttcert

      Thank you, Peter, we’ll pass this on.