Let’s face it, at 80% of meetings with prospects, they tell you they have “already a good service in place” and are not dissatisfied with their current situation. And why shouldn’t they? Your rival competitor has also good salespeople, good products and services, and their prices were probably right for your prospect. High chance your contact was one of the main drivers in the purchasing process. So, expect some ego defence or resistance and be not surprised to hear just plain denial that they need anything at all.
Customers prefer a fix over a change.
That doesn’t mean your prospect has no issues or challenges. Companies always want to advance, and with that comes changes; however, many don’t see the point of drastic changes. They prefer to stick to what they have and find ways to work around their challenges with their current supplier instead of making big decisions like changing to another supplier.
First of all, that would mean spending time with you, someone they actually don’t know yet. Why would they do that? In their mind, this can be an absolute waste of time, in particular, if you behave like many other salespeople do, coming half prepared to the meeting, asking endless questions designed to get the prospect to reveal their problem areas, which is actually to the benefit for the salesperson, not the customer. On top of that, their “sales solutions” are predictably followed by rambling on why their company is so good and solves all the prospect’s “pains”. Prospects have been through this so many times, and it becomes boring. And by the way, who says the new supplier – you – has all the solutions? Going with something new and unknown looks a lot less attractive and does not make sense from a buyer’s point of view. Staying with what you have is a typical prospect behaviour called “the status quo”. I am sure you recognize this.
To move the prospect’s status quo requires different skills.
You need a modern sales mindset that is focused on the prospect’s success, not on making a sale. In fact, it looks more like helping than selling – how strange this may sound. It entails a fundamental belief that the prospect’s success is your success. And this can only be achieved if both the seller and the buyer are involved in exploring options that suit the prospect’s business better. A change needs to make sense and cannot be pushed.
It all starts with creating interest.
So your first move is creating the prospect’s interest in actually spending time with you. And for that, in the prospect’s view, you need to bring something to the table that makes it worthwhile spending time on. You need to bring something new, some insights about issues that are impacting their business — or will be in the future. You need to earn the right to be at their table.
Your insights and ideas need to be related to the prospect’s business, that will help them produce better results. You need to find the knowledge that your prospect will find useful, making you the kind of person worth knowing. High chance that your prospect will listen to what you have to say. Don’t spoil it by falling back into the habit of talking about your product, your company, your capabilities and why you are better than any of your competitors.
Instead, focus on your prospect’s business and share what you identified as trends, insights, and ideas that you notice with other customers similar to your prospect. What challenges did they have, and what did they do to overcome these? Are they producing better results? How can you help to identify growth opportunities for your prospect? What do you see as changes in their industry? Has the prospect noticed the same? Have they identified opportunities to capitalize on these changes? If not, how can you help?
Or is your prospect focusing on cost? Share your insights related to reducing some hidden cost your prospect have not thought about. Or is their focus on driving customer loyalty? Share how you can help to capture greater loyalty to their products and brand. Can they achieve the same results with their current supplier? Now you are really helping your prospect with changing their perspective on their current situation and how a better world can look like.
These types of conversations are much more appreciated by buyers and their teams. Changing the status quo is something you do with them, not to them. A change needs to make sense to the buyer and cannot be pushed.
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