Think about the difference between what you go through trying to make a sale, and what your prospect goes through to debate making a change.
In sales, one of the biggest challenges you face is helping your prospect objectively debate making a change. Why? Because your likelihood of making a sale directly correlates with the prospect’s ability to decide on making a change. If they don’t agree to change, you don’t win the business. The key skill is the ability to debate objectively. Considering that the “fear of change” is a top 10 fear for most human beings, including prospects, the objective debate is not easy.
If you were to assess the process and experience of your prospects as they evaluate the change you represent vs. what you go through to position yourself as a better solution – what observations would you make?
The Path For Debating Change is Often Difficult
On the one hand, your prospect’s process often has little to do with the fact that you offer a better solution, or that you clearly see they need your help. Their path for debating change is often very difficult. They may struggle with certain loyalties, the blood, sweat and tears of work invested in creating their current solution. Or, they may struggle with the discomfort, uncertainty and perceived effort involved with embracing the idea of doing something differently. For them, it’s an intellectual process filled with emotional discord – a debate that risks disappointment in an uncertain outcome.
From your perspective, the prospect’s path toward change is filled with hope and excitement, because if they can figure out how to embrace it, you increase your chances of making the sale. To you, it’s a process that promises reward. These are different paths and experiences, yet both are tied to the same sales interaction. You focus on the opportunity to make the sale, and they debate which option (change or no change) feels more comfortable at that moment in time. Hence, the struggle we all call sales.
Unfortunately, the solution to easing this friction between your sales anticipation and their change aversion does not include you telling your prospect why your path is better. If that worked, I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it.
The Prospect Must Have Courage, Conviction and Knowledge
Ask yourself, does your prospect have the commitment, courage, and general knowledge to deliver on their end of the sales equation? Are they equipped to make a truly objective decision when they leave your presentation, promising to meet internally to debate the options of either moving forward with you, someone else, or staying where they are? I’m talking about that meeting you’re not invited to, where the weight of current relationships, experiences, and expectations can go unchallenged and unchecked.
One of the over-arching reasons for this innate human tendency to struggle with decisions is the lack of objectivity – a simple byproduct of loyalty, pride, and a resounding lack of self-awareness. This is where the elite sales people separate themselves from everyone else. Top performers take the time to ask contrasting questions. Contrasting questions activate a more open-minded process, where the prospect can think through alternate paths and outcomes. This is an objective debate.
If you want to instill more objectivity in your prospect’s evaluation process in the meeting you are not invited to, ask questions that create debate in the meetings you are invited to. Your own sales certainty is not as important as helping your prospect gain change clarity. Navigating a sale is very different than navigating change.