One way to beat the Hidden Competitor, and creating interest from your prospect to explore what a change could look like, is to share the risks you see of not changing. But this is not easy to do. Salespeople have never been trained to do that. They tend to shy away from this. But selling your solutions, without first addressing the risks you see for your prospect sticking to their status quo, not changing their current habits, or remaining with their set-up and supplier, is less effective. It’s time to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Imagine a doctor helping a smoker by just describing nicotine pads and not saying anything about the health risks when going through two packages of cigarettes per day? How motivated would the patient be to stop smoking? “If you do not stop, you will live ten years less”. Facing that risk, the patient may stop. Or, envision a maths teacher saying to her students: “To pass the exams in a couple of weeks, use your new calculator and you will be fine” without firmly sharing the risks she sees for her students, not practicing enough in the coming weeks. “If you do not practice you might fail the exam and will not get into university”. Now, that message is a wake-up call!
In normal life, we are more used to first sharing risks we see for those we care about, before recommending a better way of doing things.
In sales, we need to get more used to first share the risks you see for your prospects of not changing. It is a powerful way to deflate their current value perception of their current set-up or suppliers in place. Without sharing a risk-related insight, they see no risks at all and are not motivated to listen to your solution. See the world from a buyer’s perspective, in their world, competitors often look the same. Rambling on how good your company is, will not land as a wake-up call. Sharing risks you see of not changing does.
Let’s look at a business example. Many banks are competing for the same customers. A salesperson representing a major website developer could say: “I understand that customer-experience is high on your agenda. But your ratings on social media indicate lower numbers than you would expect, the risks I see is that these customers will go somewhere else. And in Social Media, bad news travels fast. A less customer-experience friendly website can cost you more than you initially would have thought. I would like to help you with going from a three-star to at least a four-star customer experience rating”.
In a commoditized world, you need to think about a new and unexpected way how you can help customers with their business goals. Like the doctor and the math teacher, you care about your customer’s future, and sharing the risks you see of not changing will be unexpected but well appreciated. Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable really pays off.
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