Have you ever left a prospect meeting feeling like you aced it, only to be disappointed and confused to find out that the prospect decided to do nothing – even though you clearly offered them a complete upgrade in what they’re doing? You’re left with little more than asking yourself, “How did this happen?”

Three Questions You Should Ask Yourself After Every Meeting

  • How objective was your prospect in thinking through their option to spend more time with you?
  • What was their process for objectively debating change after you left?
  • How objective were you in assessing the true quality of your conversation as it relates to helping your prospect debate change?

Hint: “They loved us and would be crazy not to do business with us!” isn’t objective.

Reality is, for most of us – objectivity is not a strength. Your prospect will always overestimate what they currently have in place and who they do business with, and underestimate what they could gain by doing something different with you. Why? It’s human nature to avoid the risk associated with change. There’s always that voice that wants to create doubt within us in an effort to keep us safe from making a mistake or appearing foolish by trying something different – “What if we don’t get it right?”

It’s Human Nature to Stick With the Familiar

Not following? Let’s break down a decision that some of you make every week – which restaurant to go to. If you’ve had a tough week of taking risks and making some mistakes, are you likely to go to a new restaurant with an uncertain experience, or are you more likely to go somewhere familiar – a place where you know what to expect, and there’s no energy wasted on disappointment?

In choosing a restaurant, most of you will overestimate the value of your past experiences because you seek the familiar. For example, the restaurant may have poor parking and a rude hostess, but you know some of the waitstaff by name. The drink you like is always made just right, and your favorite dish is consistent. Your experience (though not perfect) leaves you feeling calm and satisfied at the end of the hard week. This experience becomes a comforting memory and since we are creatures of routine – it becomes a default.

What about the other side of this decision, debating the opportunity to try something new and have a different experience? It’s here that you’re more likely to underestimate the value of going to a new restaurant. Your internal dialogue may say – “What if the service, drinks, or food stink? I’ve had a long week, I don’t want to take the risk.” How much time do you spend thinking about the possibility of meeting a good business connection at the bar, or receiving great service, or experiencing one of the best meals you’ve had in a while? If you crave the familiar, you’ll underestimate the potential and stick with what you know.

In this example, how could someone convince you to select the new restaurant given your need for comfort? The short answer is they couldn’t. No matter how good the advertisement, website, and reviews, if you truly seek comfort, you will downplay them all and go with the safe choice. The aesthetics, quality of food, service, or wine list of the new restaurant may truly be superior (like your services compared to your competitor), but – like your prospect – you’re not allowing yourself to see it that way.

Status Quo Sales Tactics Don’t Work

Pitching, promising, and persuading are ineffective in breaking human nature’s tendency to overestimate what we know and underestimate what we could gain by pursuing and accepting something different. Unless, of course, you’re okay relying on perfect timing – that is, catching your prospect at the exact moment they’ve already decided to explore a new option.

To avoid the pitfalls of overestimating the familiar and underestimating something different, we need an objective guide. Someone who can ask us questions to help us avoid our default to comfort and certainty in our decisions. Your prospects don’t need your promises and presentation – they need your objectivity and questions if they are to embrace the opportunity to improve and make a change.