You would think that an experienced sales rep would be able to convert the toughest of leads, but when you receive that definite “no” from a potential customer, it might seem like all hope is lost.

And usually it is 😞

However, this is not always the case, especially if you’ve read some of the best sales books out there and are familiar with the concept of negative reverse selling.

If you don’t know what it is, don’t worry, we’re going to explain everything slowly and comprehensively today.

Before that, let’s get something out of the way. If a potential customer said “no”, then there is little you can do.

But if they are being ambiguous and have not yet expressed a definite position, then you can use negative reverse selling to its full potential. This can work for eCommerce cross-selling, B2B sales, and beyond.

An ambiguous customer or client is someone who might have started off interested but after a while began ignoring your emails and calls. They also delay every decision for no apparent reason.

This is the type of customer that is leaning towards opting out but can be brought back with negative reverse selling.

Now that you understand the potential, here’s how all this fits into your sales strategy.

1. It's All About Perspective 👀

Let’s start by putting negative reverse selling into perspective and looking at it from all angles.

Basically, negative reverse selling is a part of marketing and sales psychology. It aims to bring customers back from the brink and incentivize them to make a positive action through reverse psychology.

This means that you’re supposed to do something that’s very counterintuitive at first glance: tell the customer that what you’re selling is not right for them after all.

Now, before you dismiss the idea completely, try to think about it from the perspective of the consumer.

Nowadays, customers are overwhelmed with all the products, brands, deals and discounts, special promotions, and everything in between that’s trying to make them buy a product or service.

So naturally, they have a defense mechanism at the ready and they keep their guard up at all times.

In the modern sales-oriented world, would you buy something from someone who is pushing a product into your arms? You probably wouldn’t, but if the salesperson would just let you be and even try to withdraw their offer, you may feel like there’s actually something to the matter.

Poor Sponge Bob being force fed lima beans

The same goes for your customers.

You see, negative reverse selling aims to do the opposite than traditional selling, but achieve the same outcome – only more effectively in many cases.

Instead of trying to convince the customer to buy and looking like you’re eager to sell, you are putting the ball in their court and challenging them to convince you that they are ready to purchase your product.

Of course, there are many benefits to this approach.

2. Consider All of The Benefits 👏🏼

In the modern business world, there is a time and place for almost any sales strategy.

Short from doing something completely illegal like putting a gun to the customer’s head and forcing them to buy, even cold calling has a place in today’s global market.

The same goes for negative reverse selling, as you can use it in many instances during the sales process.

There are numerous benefits to this approach, including:

  • Keeping the sales process moving
  • Solidifying your position
  • Changing the customer’s mindset to want your product or service
  • Allowing you to eliminate dead leads and move on
Image Source: Userlike

3.Analyze User Behavior to Recognize NRS Opportunities 👩🏽‍💻

Of course, you shouldn’t just start using negative reverse selling every time you spark a conversation with a potential customer or client.

Just imagine sending an email and getting a positive reply only to withdraw your offer in your response – that’s a surefire way to alienate the customer for good.

No, your approach needs to be much more calculated than that, meaning that you need to analyze user behavior and act on reliable data.

For example, you can leverage the user data compiled through your website’s CRO tool to gain insight into the customers’ mindset and figure out who is more likely to convert, who’s on the fence, and who’s thinking of dropping out.

With that data, you can create a negative reverse selling approach that is highly personalized and geared towards the person’s needs and their reasons for opting out.

The more data you can compile from your analytics tools the better. You also need to just follow the course of the conversation.

Analyze every email and correspondence to see how the customer is reacting to your proposals.

Take the frequency of their replies into consideration and check how often they’re being vague in their communication.

Once you have all the data at your side, you can choose to employ some of the trigger words and phrases commonly used in negative reverse selling. Of course, you’ll want to personalize these so that they don’t sound templated.

4. Have the Right Power Phrases at Your Side 💯

There are many power phrases you can use to nudge the customer in the right direction and inspire them to make a positive decision.

However, you need to choose the right one based on the customer and their needs, your company and your industry, and the general sentiment of the market.

The last thing you want is to use a phrase that doesn’t quite fit into your brand’s identity, business model, or the general sensibility of your target demographic.

The customer needs to feel like this is a natural part of the conversation. Try using the following power phrases to bring them back from the brink of opting out:

  • “Our product/service is not for everyone.”
  • “You shouldn’t buy this product if…”
  • “We want to make sure the product is right for you, so don’t buy it if…”
  • “Am I right to assume that this service is not your priority right now?”
  • “It seems that you’re not interested in the offer, so perhaps we should drop it altogether.”
  • “I don’t want to waste your time if you are not interested, so this will be the last email I’ll be sending you.”
  • “Does this fall within your budget?”
  • “I am under the impression that our product/service might be over your budget limit.”
  • “I haven’t heard from you in a while, so I’ll assume that you are no longer interested in the offer.”
  • “Perhaps we should reconsider if the product/service is the solution you’re looking for.”

It might seem counterintuitive at first, but asking these questions and making these statements a part of your email, text, or phone call can really make the customer think and incentivize them to take action.

One way they can go is to start talking about the offer again, and the other way is deciding to drop out for good.

Either way, you know where you stand once more, and you will be able to either nurture the lead to fruition or redirect your valuable resources towards other sales opportunities.

The worst thing is being stuck in sales limbo and wasting your time and effort trying to get through to someone who’s just not sure what they want. These power phrases and their iterations make them snap out of it and make a decision.

5. Implement NRS Into Your Remarketing Approach 🤝

Remarketing is one of the most vital elements of a successful sales strategy, and you can do it in many ways to bring customers back to your site and inspire them to make a purchase after all.

In a nutshell, you want to engage your audiences with remarketing by positioning ads strategically across the web based on their browsing history and their use of your website.

If they have put a product in their cart but failed to finalize the purchase, then you should position an ad with the same product in front of them as they’re browsing the web to remind them to finish the purchase.

Image Source: Quora

They don’t even need to put anything in their carts, the very fact that they have checked out a product is enough to put it in a remarketing ad. Now, there are several ways to structure these ads, and the three key types are:

  • Run text
  • Images
  • Videos

You can weave negative reverse selling into all three to make the customer really think about the purchase and incentivize them to come back.

Imagine putting a short power phrase like the question “Is this product right for you?” into the ad.

This will invariably spark an emotional response and maybe even make the customer spring into action, unlike a simple image of the product or some lame copy that in their eyes basically says “please come back we’re desperate”.

Don’t be that brand 🙃

Instead aim to be the brand that forces people to think, sparks conversation, and knows its worth.

6. Be Careful and Courteous 🙏🏽

On a final note, it’s important to stress the fact that negative reverse selling can backfire if you’re not careful, meticulous in your approach, and above all, courteous.

If phrased and weaved into an email the wrong way, you can easily alienate and even offend the customer, which is a great way to earn yourself a bad review.

If you want to convert them and even earn the customers’ loyalty in the long run, you need to:

  • Show them that you respect and appreciate them, so they can trust you a bit more.
  • Focus on their positives and always open the conversation on a positive note
  • Mention their goals and how you admire them, as well as the specifics of what makes them special.

Slowly lead into the problem and set the stage for negative reverse marketing in order to transition to the action phase seamlessly and without offending anyone.

Don’t leave the conversation on the power phrase, but always give them an option to come back by emphasizing that you’re there should they have any questions.

This is a delicate game, one that the most successful sales reps around the world use every day to transform the toughest leads into paying customers.

Negative reverse selling might seem like a strange concept to you at first glance, but sleep on it and you’ll see its true power and potential in the modern oversaturated market.

Refer to this guide to fine-tune your own NRS approach and use these tips to take your sales strategy forward as a whole.


This article was written by Lauren Wiseman. Lauren is a regular Bizzmark Blog author with many research studies published with the main focus on clients who want their brands to grow in the fast-changing and demanding market.

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