The 3 Types Of Psychological Resistance That Cause You To Lose Sales

Most marketing and sales training concentrate on ways to make the product and service you’re selling more appealing. They give you ways to build your message up so your customers drool with excitement. However, they don’t address the underlying resistance customers have when approaching their buying decisions.

We all have some sort of resistance when buying. You know the time when you really wanted something but there was that thing inside you that wouldn’t let you buy it. That’s a form of buyer resistance. This resistance is also a major cause of buyer’s remorse and product returns.

Resistance Triangle: Reactance, Skepticism, InertiaWhen you address the resistance beforehand you can not only help more people buy your product, you will allow them to feel more comfortable during the process. This comfort will stay with your customer and reduce the number of returns, complaints, and make your life easier.

There are three types of resistance.1 Each has it’s own cause and unique way it stops your customers from buying.


Reactance is a resistance to the sales process itself. It’s the little kid inside all of us that says, “No I’m not!” Or, “you can’t make me!” It’s the hostile customer that won’t open up and is afraid of being sold.

One example is marketing online. If you do any marketing online, you’ll find a lot of people complaining about long sales letters. Their natural rant is, “the long online sales letter doesn’t work” and, “I won’t buy anything with a long sales page like that.”

They’re right. It doesn’t work...on them.

If this is you, you have a triggered reactance to that type of sales letter. It’s not that the sales letter itself doesn’t work. It’s that they don’t like the process. The reality is these sales letters work with many people or they wouldn’t continue to be used.

On the other hand, if you want to market to people that react negatively to the long sales letter, you need to address this reactance from the start or build sales letters without the long-form appearance.

One way to address it is using “reverse psychology.” It’s the “you may not want to do this but...” Use this carefully because it could elicit resistance that wasn’t there. However, when it works, it’s one very effective method to address reactance.


Skepticism is what you hear about in most marketing and sales training. It’s your customer who’s suspicious of you, your product, or your company. If you’re selling in person, he always has another question. Your customer is resistant to buy because of his suspicion.

The most common way you’ve probably heard to deal with the skeptic by offering a guarantee. By offering the guarantee you help remove the doubt and fear behind his disbelief. This doesn’t add any benefits to the sales message. It simply lowers the resistance. And, the best part, it doesn’t cost you anything to implement or add to your product.

When addressing skepticism, realize your ideal customer wants to buy what you’re selling. Your customer understands the benefits. More bullet points on your sales letter may help but it’s highly unlikely.

Think of it like this, your customer is standing at a wall, yelling over it to you. He wants to give you money. He is wondering how to climb it to get to you. He doesn’t believe there’s a safe way to get over it though. Once you explain there’s a safe elevator that will take them up and over he will hop on and bring his wallet with him.


Inertia is the biggest challenge you’ll face. I call this person “the lump.” He’s simply unresponsive to anything you offer. He doesn’t want to change. It’s nothing against you or your offer. He has a fear of choice or a fear of committing to anything.

When I was in the insurance business, this is what I commonly ran across. Insurance isn’t something people seek enjoyment from buying. They usually have a car, home, life, health, or business insurance policy and don’t have any reason to change. They’ve never had a problem (aka reason to change). They fear changing and losing out if they switch companies.

It’s the same with your customers. He’s resistant out of self-preservation. He has lived his life up to now without your product and survived. Maybe you’ll make their life worse.

Who knows?

One of the best ways to deal with this is to acknowledge the inertia. You can say, “I know you probably don’t want to deal with this issue...” This helps them put it in place and sense that you understand his struggle associated with the decision. You can then continue on with your message.

Your Opportunity!

The most beautiful thing about addressing resistance issues: you can sell more without having to stack any additional benefits or cost. When you’re adding bonuses or throwing in special discounts to increase the attractiveness of your offer you’re spending more and pushing your customer to buy. The resistance is still there. And, it can rear its ugly head later.

Reducing your buyer’s resistance allows you to walk side by side with him. You won’t have to push or pull him in the direction you want him to go. As you move in one direction he’s right there by your side. Both of you happily get where you want to go with little struggle along the path.

This is the first article in my series on resistance. I’ll go into more detail on each of the sides of the resistance triangle. You’ll learn more on how the resistance is created and multiple ways to eliminate or reduce your buyer’s resistance.

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The process to reduce resistance isn’t for everyone. It may not have the sex appeal of flashy headlines and bullet points but it’s important to understand.

And, after you sign up below, you can imagine yourself a couple weeks from now, looking back on this first post as the start of something new and wonderful for your business. Smile

1 From Resistance and Persuasion by Dr. Eric Knowles. While this is a very good book it is a textbook and very academic. In other words, not an easy read.

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Some links may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products I think are valuable to you. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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