Five Tips for Turning an Argument Into a Sales Win

Posted by

You never win an argument with a customer. Let’s get that straight at the very beginning. You know what I mean. You start with some small talk, introduce your latest product or service and eventually run into opposition, or, downright resistance, peppered with some sarcasm or a service or product horror story. For whatever reason, you become defensive and you and your prospect are engaged in Round 1 of an argument. These scenarios usually end with an unhappy or insulted prospect and no sale. And, no referrals. Ouch! This can hurt your business and bottom line. 


In a recent Fast Company article, “Innovation Is About Arguing, Not Brainstorming.  Here’s How To Argue Productively,” Daniel Sobol makes some interesting observations about using arguing as a tool to generate meaningful ideas. The tips he shares can be used to turn arguments into creative sales techniques.


Different opinions, even coming from opposite ends of a situation, can be healthy for both parties. There is a saying, “If both of us always agree, one of us is unnecessary.” You can be more valuable to a prospect by using objections or disagreements to clarify information and help him understand the value of your product or service. It’s not the intensity of the argument, but the communication techniques that provide the value.


  1. No hierarchy. The article tells the story of a manager who encouraged new employees to speak their minds. Prospects can be intimidated by a sales person who comes across as superior by virtue of their knowledge or experience and constantly reminds them of it every time they make an objection or ask a question. It shows in the tone of voice and body language. No one likes to feel inferior. Helping your prospect feel comfortable and on equal footing in a conversation can actually avoid an argument before it starts.
  2. Say “No, because…” Car buyers love to pile on requests for discounts and extras like a free warranty, floor mats, satellite radio, or whatever. Sometimes “no” is the only answer, which is a sure way to start an argument. “No, because…” coming from the viewpoint of the customer respects the customer and helps her understand why she can’t have the moon and stars. A flat “no” makes the customer feel like a child who can’t have another cookie before dinner. 
  3. Say “Yes, and…” Take advantage of a customer’s good ideas and positive statements. Piggybacking is a brainstorming technique that builds on previous ideas. It validates the person who made the original statement and values the idea itself. This technique makes the prospect part of your team, working together to come to a positive conclusion.
  4. Diverse perspectives. Really listen to your prospect. They may have a perspective you haven’t thought of and a solution that is better than your standard process. This values the prospect and makes them feel like they are part of the solution. It also helps level the playing field in #1.
  5. Make it fun. Arguments take on a dark side when you begin to take things personally. Remember that the purpose of a sales meeting is to share with a prospect the solutions you have to make their life better, easier and more prosperous. It’s not about you. Keep on topic and keep it light.


Conflict can heighten interest and help you see the prospect’s perspective and needs more clearly. Don’t be afraid to spar occasionally using the techniques above to get to a win-win for all.


Photo Source:


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  •  Khayalethu M
    Khayalethu M
    Never blame a person for any mistake made , just find out what caused the problem and then try to  solve the conflict by trying to understand the field of business you are in and the customers you are dealing with . Always respond kindly to any queries made by customers and follow up the after sales service to know if the customers are satisfied because customers are choosers and are always right
  • Steve E
    Steve E
    While those of us with 25+ years of sales experience (there you go, I've said it...are you impressed?  Didn't think so...don't use this all-knowing approach with customers) have been brainwashed into thinking that "negotiating" a solution is the best way to arrive at a sale.  Your article is right in saying it's actually "arguing" with a customer that produces results.  The logic behind "if we always agree, then one of us is unnecessary" is spot-on.  Your article is valuable, especially the "No, because" and the "Yes, and" techniques....The customer will appreciate an occasional 'NO', if it's VALID.  And the "YES" lets them know THEY'VE BEEN HEARD and you're on the same team.  It's never too late to learn new sales  techniques...and I just did. Thanks!  Keep 'em coming!  
  • Bob M
    Bob M
    Interesting, need to try
  • John D
    John D
    Positive, real world. That's very good. There are a lot of mgmt. professionals that need to read this article.!!!
  • Ian S
    Ian S
    I have never argued with my customers. You need to learn how to listen and create presentations that communicate ideas that are going to meet their needs. If you feel that their opinion is based on misinformation or they just don't see the benefits that you are offering, you should be stern with your expertise, but flexible enough to create a new, more productive, and sometimes less intimidating, strategy.
  • Ms. G
    Ms. G
    Thank you for your perspective on a relatively difficult day.It's difficult not to come out swinging when you've beenslammed to the wall so many times...  But the key, for a professional, is to stand up, brush yourself off, assume to regain dignity, smile a bit, and regain your ground.I hope I'm right on this.  Love to hear from you soon.jade g
  • Charles H
    Charles H
    First and always acknowledge the customers objection as valid, repeat it to him in your own words
  • Terry C
    Terry C
    Very good advice for people new to sales, but also an excellent reminder to the veteran salesperson. Thanks!

Jobs to Watch