Boost Your Sales by Having a Contingency Plan

You've pitched a deal or sales presentation and, despite your best efforts, it's very obvious that you are facing a "no." What do you do?

Don't collapse. Accept defeat gracefully and then launch one final attack. Come back with an "at least you can buy/do this" proposal.

Sales Secret: People often feel guilty about saying "no." By denying your request, they feel as if they have been wasting your time – especially if you've been helpful and informative in your presentation. You can take advantage of that feeling by giving them something less expensive to buy (into) that will satisfy both of you.

Let's say you are trying to sell a customer a new database-software package. When he hears the price – half a million dollars – he says, "No way." You do everything you can to show him that $500,000 is nothing compared with what he will make and save by buying your software. Still, he says "no."

Now you bring out Plan B – the second option. In this case, it's revamping his existing software for $150,000. He listens at first because he feels he owes it to you and because the price tag is so much lower. You hit him with benefit after benefit – showing him how his life will improve with the revamping. You make this second, smaller sales argument with as much force as you did the first one. At some point in time, he feels as if he's getting as much out of Plan B as he would have out of Plan A and he stops you and agrees to buy it.

Instead of walking away with nothing, you've made a substantial sale and developed a customer for the future.

Bonus Application: This persuasion technique works just as well for more personal issues – such as getting a raise or convincing your friend or partner to do something you want.

Let's say, for example, that you want to persuade your partner to invest in a new product line to add balance to your business. The budget you've prepared will require $250,000 over six months. He doesn't like the risk, and so you shoot back with an alternative – a cheaper way that will give you an indication of whether the new product line would work. This would cost only $65,000. He can't say "no."

The trick to walking away with something is to plan your comeback pitch in advance so that it can be hard-hitting, detailed, and enticing. Get the data you need and double-check your numbers, so that it won't seem as if you are desperately shooting from the hip.

[The above article is from Michael Masterson's daily e-mail service, Early to Rise. For a FREE 2-week trial membership, simply visit And mark your calendar September 10th – 14th to learn from Michael at our 2003 copywriting bootcamp here in Delray Beach, Florida. Keep watching upcoming issues of The Golden Thread for more details.]

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Published: February 10, 2003

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