How to Circumvent Resistance and Stay Out of the Trash Bin

by Travis Heermann on July 29, 2010

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In an age super-saturated with marketing messages, your prospects have developed such an aversion to being sold anything that you have to overcome resistance at every step.

They pick up your direct mail package, see what it is… and toss it in the garbage. So you add some intriguing copy or graphics to the envelope, just enough to make them open it.

They open up your envelope, see what you’re selling… and toss it in the garbage. So you include some headlines that snag their attention, capture their imagination, and keep them reading.

They read some of your headlines, recognize it as just another ho-hum sales pitch… and toss it in the garbage. So you write copy that they simply cannot put down, filled with dramatic benefits, showing them how much better their lives will be if they listen to your message.

They finally reach your call to action, see the cost… and toss it in the garbage because they don’t want to spend any money, even if you’ve managed to get them this far. So now your job is to help them rationalize what their emotions want.

These barriers of resistance are enormous, difficult to overcome no matter how breathtaking your benefits. So how do we, as marketers, get around this?

When defenses are that strong, it is senseless to confront them directly. To borrow the words of Sun Tzu, “Supreme excellence is achieved in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” Our prospect is not the enemy, but his resistance is. Marketers dare not use force to overcome defenses; we’re stuck with persuasion and seduction. So we go around the defenses with approaches that the prospect does not expect. We take the argument in an unexpected direction, evoke emotions that she is not expecting, inspire her imagination, and help her rationalize her action.

In the chain of resistance, you will note that at every stage, the prospect puts up resistance when she recognizes part of the marketing process. “Oh, this is where the sales pitch starts. I don’t feel like hearing a sales pitch right now.” This method of circumventing resistance predicts when that resistance will begin–and shifts gears before it can. As in wooing and warfare, do the unexpected, and you’ll more often experience dramatic results.

At what other stages of the selling process does resistance appear? How do you overcome it? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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