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March 27, 2014
One of the biggest challenges salespeople face is getting prospects to move out of their comfort zones. Status quo is a known entity, and it’s often perceived as the safer option when instituting significant change is the alternative.
Even when companies are experiencing unrest or uncertainty—suffering periodic security breaches, working on down-level equipment, continuing to run on Windows XP or relying on Excel spreadsheets when superior software is available—status quo is often the strategy of choice.
After all, CFOs know what to do when the CEO requests a special report—and those tasks only come around once a month. It may take a half a day to prepare that report using outdated technology, but they’re OK with that. Similarly, it may be a pain for office managers to fix equipment when it breaks down, but they know how to do it. And when it happens, everyone gets to take an hour break. Who’s really going to complain about that?
For salespeople, though, a more important question crops up: Why exactly are you willing to put up with those headaches, when superior solutions exist?
Because status quo is comfortable.
Learning new procedures, implementing new software and upgrading to new equipment is time-consuming. It slows down an already busy staff, and makes it difficult to see the productivity improvements and cost savings that new solutions often promise.
So, as you wax poetic about the benefits of your products and services, and preach the results that they can deliver to their organization, your prospects begin to stall. They don’t really want to have the conversion conversation. In the back of their mind, they might know they need to change … they just don’t want to do it right now.
As a salesperson, that puts you in a tough position. You keep calling and communicating the tangible and intangible benefits of transitioning to a superior product or service. You remind prospects that change doesn’t have to be that scary. You reaffirm the potential risk or productivity loss of waiting any longer to transition. Yet, prospects continue to stall and avoid. Stall and avoid. Stall and avoid. Until, finally, you decide to give up or they decide to tell you to stop calling.
What should you do in that scenario? How can you get prospects to move beyond the status quo when they’re paralyzed by the potential difficulties of change?
First, you have to get beyond the obvious trigger that’s causing prospects to stall and dig into the potential reasons behind it. Ask yourself some “so what” questions and try to uncover the issues that could push hesitant customers beyond the status quo.
Yes, XP has reached end-of-life. So what?
Yes, the CFO is spending half-a-day producing an Excel report that a software upgrade could greatly simplify. So what?
Now, ask yourself what those issues mean to the people who would be affected by change and the business that would implement it.
The reality is that if prospects can survive in the situation they’re currently in, they’ll choose that route. Your job is to help them see how that situation is negatively impacting their business from a perspective they haven’t yet considered. When you can do that, people will see the error of their ways, recognize the unacceptability of status quo, and prepare to move on—ideally with you.
Kendra Lee is a top IT seller, prospect attraction expert, author of the award winning books “The Sales Magnet” and “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.
Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the award-winning books “The Sales Magnet” and “Selling Against the Goal,” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.
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