Sales Tips for the Reluctant Salesperson – Hard-to-get selling

How to make the other party want to listen

Editor’s Note: JHC readers may not work for medical products companies, but they have plenty of customers – administrators, all the people who use the products for which they contract, and the vendors with whom they negotiate and implement contracts. Their credibility is on the line every day. Sales coach Brian Sullivan works with salespeople and sales executives from medical products manufacturers and distributors. But he’s got something to say to contracting professionals as well.

“Um … well … yeah.., I’m sorry …I”
Sometimes, don’t you wish your clinicians, department heads and others would come out and say it – “Your solution just won’t work for our department.” There’s always the self-examination that takes place after such an exchange, but often one overlooked point could be that perhaps you acted as if getting that YES was the most important thing in your life. Right or wrong, the more you show that you are dying to implement that unbelievable contract you just signed, the more dead the deal often becomes. Now don’t misunderstand me: Your customers need to know you love what you’re selling. Yet, they need to feel that if they don’t move forward with you, life will continue happily, because you have other unbelievable contracts to implement, with other clinicians and departments.

So, do you want to be a great salesperson, influential leader or a master negotiator? Then heed the advice of well-known trial attorney and negotiation expert, John Patrick Dolan, author of “Negotiate Like the Pros.” On my radio show last fall, John advised that negotiators need to take an attitude of “slight indifference” when sitting across the table from a customer, an employee, a boss, or potential partner. While enthusiasm is important in influencing others, you need to pick the right time to say nothing or appear as if you are not emotionally attached to what you are offering. This makes the other party want to listen.

When trying to sell something to a prospect, try these words, “If you believe that we might have a solution for you, great, we can discuss it in further detail. If not, I still want to thank you for the opportunity.” Let’s break down those words and discuss how each part is designed to keep your customer longing to hear more:


  • “If you believe …” These three words let your customers know that they are in control. Letting them know upfront that their opinions and beliefs supersede yours as the contracting executive will blow a big hole through their defenses.
  • “… might have a solution. If not … thank you …” These words imply that you are not even sure if what you have is going to provide a solution to their needs. This lets them know that you have no plans to pressure them, and it removes yet another brick in the customer defense wall.

So this week, try playing “hard to get.” You might find that others will find it hard to get enough of you and your solutions. And watch how your perceived indifference will become one of your greatest weapons in your PRECISE selling and negotiations arsenal.

About the Author

Brian Sullivan
Brian Sullivan, CSP teaches salespeople and leaders how to influence more people in his PRECISE Business Development Programs. Sign up for a FREE Online Training Module on How to Become a Master Questioner by going to Or visit him at