The trigger-response-regret loop occurs when a salesperson tries overcoming an objection. Change the story and change the emotion for better sales outcomes.


Emotional management is a key selling skill.

After meeting with a challenging prospect, more than one salesperson has asked, “Did I really say that?” or “Why didn’t I say that?” The salesperson has just experienced the knowing-and-doing gap.

They know what to say, but in difficult selling situations, emotions, rather than effective selling and influence skills, start running the meeting.

It’s the classic trigger-response-regret sales loop. A challenging prospect triggered the salesperson to respond in a manner they later regret. So what can a salesperson do to stop the trigger-response-regret loop?

Change Your Story!

When you find yourself getting emotionally charged during a sales conversation, it’s because of the story you are telling yourself about the prospect.

For example, you’re meeting with a prospect for the first time and she says, “I think we can do this in-house. I’m not sure if we need to outsource this project.” TRIGGER.

The salesperson may respond in a manner he later regrets. He starts overselling in order to overcome the objection.

Or, he shuts down because nothing intelligent is entering his brain other than asking himself how to end this meeting quickly.

It’s time to change the story (trigger), which changes the emotion (response), which changes the outcome (regret).

Perhaps this prospect just invested with another firm that fell dramatically short of expectations, so they are protecting themselves from another salesperson that is promising the moon.

Maybe the prospect doesn’t know how to buy your product or service. They are guarded because they don’t want to be taken advantage of.

When you change your story, you respond in a manner that you don’t regret.

“Mr. Prospect, that’s a fair assessment and you may be able to do this project yourself. Why don’t you and I discuss the pros and cons of outsourcing? At the end of our conversation, we should be able to figure out what is the best path for your organization.”

By changing the story and the accompanying emotion, you are able to execute the hard selling and influence skills needed to keep this prospect feeling safe and open to a bigger conversation.

Avoid the trigger-response-regret sales loop. Change your story and you will change sales outcomes.

About the author

Colleen Stanley

Colleen Stanley

Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in…

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