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  • Brett Zalaski

Arguing & Selling Don't Mix


A couple weeks ago I wrote an article that dealt with combating the 'Your team sucks' objection. I had no intention of writing this article so close to it, but I was inspired by the below tweet from one of my favorite sales authors, Bob Burg.


I've had a few reps write into the site over time talking about their challenges with objections. I've mentored a few reps who outlined their struggles with objections. I've also managed hundreds of sales reps over the years. I've also sold and come up against an avalanche of objections, too. Many of the struggles I've seen come from one place...an objection equals an argument to them. It's not inherently positive, so it has to be negative. And people like to argue.


Also, this past summer, I made 100 calls to pro sports teams. One of the things I was specifically attempting to look was how reps attacked an objection. To back up everything I just said in the previous paragraph, 63% of the calls saw a rep take an argumentative view to an objection. Some examples I wrote down from the reps:

  • It's not THAT expensive when you think about the other ticket prices in the area...

  • The team is moving in the right direction. We're not that bad anymore.

  • There are lots of public transportation you can take, so you never live TOO far away.

  • Our ticket prices may seem expensive to you, but we have lots of people who are paying them already.

  • If you're not going to be here when we're losing, we don't want you when we're winning.

And, yes, I actually got that last one.


Knowing all this, and knowing I was going to write an article on it eventually, I responded to Bob's tweet (below). I've included his response back because I'm a huge sales nerd and it made me geek out...

Bob's tweet was the truth in sales...and in real life. And, through lots and lots of experiences, mine was, too. I've argued and I've challenged. And I lost EVERY time. People want their opinions validated...not discredited. When you tell them they're wrong, they become defensive and angry. When you include words like, 'but...,' or 'however...,' you are making them defensive and angry. And when need to have your opinion be heard, you make them defensive and angry. Defensive and angry people don't trust you...and thus don't spend money with you.


To gain their trust, you need to make it feel like you're sitting on the same side of the table as them...not across from them. You do that by first showing empathy and appreciation for being told the challenge or objection, and then by helping them overcome the challenge or objection by working alongside them to create a solution.


Sales is a losing proposition to begin with. The best salespeople close 30% of the people they talk to...so 70% aren't buying in the best situations. Being negative and arguing will drill that percentage lower and lower.


'I appreciate you saying you live too far way. I can understand how doing that drive 41 times a year may seem like too much. So let's find a way to get you to more games in a way that makes sense for you,' sounds way better than, 'You only live 15 minutes away. You should be able to make that drive!' Be honest...you'd appreciate it more, too.