3 Strategies for Overcoming the Counterpoint Reflex in Selling

In a previous post I introduced the concept of the Counterpoint Reflex in Selling. The counterpoint reflex is experienced when you, as the sales professional or business owner, share a point of view and your prospect immediately "counters" it, creating an emotional disconnect. You want to avoid this scenario if at all possible because emotional distance during the selling conversation diminishes the chances that you will make the sell. In our sales training we teach our clients to beware of this and work to avoid it. The key to avoiding or overcoming this dilemma is to ask more questions! Here I share 3 strategies, or 3 ways to use questions to overcome the counterpoint reflex in selling.

Ask Curiosity Questions

To prepare for the selling conversation a good sales professional will identify thoughtful questions that will bring the prospect's needs to the surface and provide clarity to both the buyer and the seller. The better your questions the less likely it is that you will encounter the counterpoint reflex. However, it can still happen. In fact, some people do this to salespeople automatically. For many it is just a habit. The worst thing you can do in this situation is "push" or debate. That creates more emotional distance, again, decreasing your probability of making the sell. Often when people contradict or clarify unnecessarily (see previous post) they are trying to add value to the conversation. And you definitely do not want to squelch your prospect's need to add value or their desire to contribute. So when this happens simply pause and ask a curiosity question. For example, "That's interesting. Would you share more about your take on this?" A curiosity response will typically neutralize the counterpoint and actually make the prospect curious themselves. Genuine curiosity questions are the most effective way to engage someone in a productive sales conversation because it neutralizes opposition or resistance.

Ask Credibility Questions

People like to buy but they do not like to be sold! As a result they often enter the selling conversation with their guard up. As quickly as possible you want to begin building trust. You do NOT do this by telling them what a great person you are. Instead you take a genuine interest in THEM and ask questions in a way that let's them know you're "safe" and that you know what you're talking about. You do this by asking credibility questions. Much can be said about this but one simple technique is to ask binary questions that give them the option to choose between the 2 most likely responses. For example, "Do you more frequently find yourself in situation 'A' or situation 'B'?" "Do prefer to handle these types of situations by 'A' or 'B'?" "Do you tend to see more of 'A' or more of 'B'?" Actually someone could respond by saying, "No I prefer/see 'C'." That is usually not a counterpoint reflex. It is a response you can affirm and highlight as unique. People like to feel unique! It creates a stronger emotional connection. But just as important, asking the binary questions enables the prospect to see that you are knowledgeable and experienced, and hopefully someone they can trust! If done well it gives you more credibility quickly.

Reverse the Positive With Your Questions

Another way to reduce the negative impact of the counterpoint reflex is to turn your questions around so that the counterpoint is actually the positive response you're hoping for. For example, "Did I catch you at a bad time?" "Am I interrupting?" "Will this proposal make your boss nervous?" Though reversing the positive may sound negative, it actually sets up the prospect to "counter" in your favor. Good selling conversations are both a science and an art. As a business coach I help professionals every week improve their skills and productivity. By using these 3 strategies you can take your selling conversation and outcomes to a higher level!


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