3 Negative Reverse Selling Ideas For Positive Sales


Typical sales and marketing philosophies recommend your communications include a lot of positivity, hype and other forms of promotional words and imagery. Give your customers good news, extol the virtues of your product or service, etc. And it totally makes sense to communicate this way — at least some of the time.

Sometimes, however, it may make sense to use reverse psychology or what’s called “negative reverse” selling. That’s where you employ what seems to be a negative form of communication in order to get your prospect to further look into and actually make a positive case for your product or service.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re Gun & Gear Industries, a manufacturer of firearms and related gear. Your marketing strategy uses plenty of positive messages: “Gun & Gear Industries’ products perform like this.” “Gun & Gear Industries should be used because of XYZ.” And so on.

A very simplified negative reverse might go something like … “Gun & Gear Industries doesn’t make guns and gear for every shooter …” Once your prospect reads or hears it, he or she should wonder whether he or she is the type of shooter who would or should shop at and buy from Gun & Gear Industries.

As such, it raises a question in your prospect’s mind. At the onset it sounds counterproductive to a sale, but it actually creates a level of intrigue — which in turn would cause the prospect to look more or deeper at Gun & Gear Industries, instead of less.
Planning and starting a marketing campaign by thinking in the negative about your business isn’t easy or intuitive. Here are three simple ideas you might apply to marketing communications.

1. “The Last [Product Or Service] You’ll Buy.”

Sometimes people speak disparagingly about how they wouldn’t do this or accept that, even if it were “the last one on earth.” The obvious value statement, if this were about a business, if the product or service is of so little value no matter how bad things are on the planet — even if there are no other options — they’re still not going to engage or buy.

Saying something is the “last product or service you’ll buy” plays off this idea but creates intrigue. The statement actually prods a potential customer to consider why would the product or service be the last? Is it because it is of so little value … or of so much value? Could it be the last product or service I’ll buy because it’s the best product or service out there and I wouldn’t need any others?

This one sets the stage nicely for truly excellent products and services and top-notch customer support. Don’t forget an easy-to-use (and safe) means of transacting the sale, whether online or in person. In other words, be sure to offer a product or service that lives up to the name, otherwise it may actually be the last time you see the customer.

2. “Why You Shouldn’t [Whatever Activity Relates To Your Product Or Service].”

The assertion a potential customer shouldn’t actually purchase or participate in whatever your business sells or offers takes some guts to put out there. But it makes perfect sense when you think about it. If you haven’t already, consider the persona or demographic makeup of what you think is an ideal customer and then create a negative version of that.

Here’s an example: You run a company called Indoor Range Air, selling and servicing ventilation systems for indoor gun ranges.You’re looking for owners and managers of indoor gun ranges — the people who have the authority and buying power to decide on using your service. These owners and managers are typically [fill in the blank with their needs and wants, typical pain points, etc.] and have an answer for all of those. With this persona in mind, now consider the opposite — and simply write out some reverse negatives:
You shouldn’t use Indoor Range Air … if you’re interested in paying extravagant service fees for basic ventilation services … if you’re okay with inexperienced staff maintaining your range equipment … and so on.

Use the negatives to point to positives of your business: Indoor Range Air charges a low service fee; only employs certified and trained technicians; etc. The reverse negative creates a comparison in the potential customer’s mind, getting him or her to consider actual, positive aspects of your business in light of theoretical negatives.

Another angle on this is to put a reverse negative on the activities related to your business. If, for example, your business offers a total big-game hunting experience, you know all the positives of such an experience. But, thinking in the negative, they’re not for someone who doesn’t like the great outdoors, doesn’t like battling the elements and who doesn’t enjoy the thrill of mixing stealth, patience and skill. So, they shouldn’t participate. Say this in your marketing communications and it may come across as a challenge to a reader who might have never considered it before — but is now.

This one also sets the stage for excellent products or services, followed by great customer service. Make sure to deliver on all of it, or the customer may think he or she really shouldn’t have participated.

3. “This [Product Or Service] Isn’t Worth [A Specific Dollar Amount].”

In this reverse negative marketing communication, you’re going to offer an actual price on your product or service and then lay out all the benefits of buying it, eventually helping the reader/customer come to the conclusion the product or service is actually worth far more than the price shown.

Generally, potential customers are on the lookout for value in the products and services they buy. And one of the ways to demonstrate the great value of the products or services you offer is to inform the potential customers to think not merely of the bottom line price, but what went into that price. You can approach this from two angles: the intelligence and expertise your company offers in producing a product or service, and the fact the potential customer has a real need (or a real want) to be met he or she can’t meet alone. Your product or service may cost $X, but the price represents the refined work, materials and brainpower of your company’s employees.

Moreover, you can play off the whole idea the very reason a potential customer is looking around at these products or services is because it’s something they can’t produce by themselves. As such, the price they pay represents a value of time and effort and materials they didn’t have to bear themselves. The company offering did this for them.

Truly, we’re extrapolating out the many and varied details that go into perceived and actual value of a product and service. Even with COVID-19, your customers are used to operating in a capitalist society with market forces in which businesses operate in order to make a profit by serving some segment of society. There’s a price tag, yes. But there’s much more than just a price tag.

The reverse negative statement, “This product or service isn’t worth $X,” simply makes the potential customer think through the transaction more holistically, offering more points of connection to him or her than merely on a business transaction level.

Indeed, it provides an opportunity for emotional connections (someone is making an effort to meet a real or perceived need), human connections (real, caring people built this or designed this for me to use), greater-good connections (supporting, for example the Second Amendment or other principles of freedom) and more.

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