Status Quo and the Cost of Inaction


Status quo is Latin for “existing state”. Faced with potentially risky decisions, B2B buyers often default to sticking with the status quo – even if choosing to change could bring the possibility of future benefits. Let’s explore this a bit more because this is one of the main reasons that make your proposals stall. What’s going on in the mind of the buyer, and from their point of view, what would persuade them to leave their status quo?

When you are discussing possible solutions, buyers use their status quo as the reference point to evaluate the attractiveness of your offer. Any improvement is a gain, and any shortcoming is a loss. Is it really that simple? How are buyers really looking at competitive offers?

Research by Nobel Prize-winning behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman shows that buyers tend to look foremost at risks associated with your proposed improvements and are less focused on the risks associated with not changing. Their mind is more on practical implementation challenges like ramp-up time, operational staff learning new products and services, career risk if the change fails, financial risk if the ROI isn’t achieved, and risk of being exposed for not doing their job properly.

In other words, although your proposed solution sounds attractive,

  1. Their focus is not so much on what they would gain
  2. Instead, their thoughts are more on the risk of changing.
  3. And not at all on the shortcomings associated with remaining their status quo

This is an important insight for us salespeople.

  1. Besides selling the upside of change
  2. We should also focus on how we will help and make the implementation easy for the buyer.
  3. And, our biggest emphasis should be on highlighting the downside of sticking with the status quo.


To put this in business terms, sales execs need to convince buyers that sticking with the status quo comes with a cost; the cost of inaction. If that cost of not changing is bigger than making a change, buyers would probably give other solutions a lot more consideration. You can achieve that by drawing their attention to the negative consequences of the costs, risks, missed opportunities, and consequences of their current situation that they may not yet be aware of or have so far failed to give the proper attention to.

For this, you need to have good knowledge of the buyer’s situation. A Sales Enablement tool helps you to know more about their situation, so you are well prepared. Show you have the business acumen to understand their vision and strategy of what they are trying to achieve.  But it is not about you, it is about the Buyer and their situation; Lead with insights about the way they have set things up with existing suppliers. Is that situation ideal to achieve what they are trying to achieve? Or, do the capabilities (or non-capabilities)  of chosen suppliers restrict them in implementing their strategy? Now you are changing the buyer’s status quo perspective.

Your insights are reducing the buyer’s status quo baseline to a level where they start to rethink if their current supplier is indeed the right choice going forward.


That is the moment where you use your skills to demonstrate that the buyer is not talking to a company that offers the same products, services, and solutions as their current supplier, although they initially thought so. According to a McKinsey analysis, buyers’ interest in talking to sales reps goes up the moment different specifications or completely new products or services are on the table. You need to make that gap of the reduced status quo baseline and as big as possible.

McKinsey buyers speak to sales reps

Through your facilitation on what not changing means to their business, the cost of inaction becomes clearer to the buyer and is more motivated to keep you longer at their table.

Click * LIKE or share with others if you think this post was very useful

Listen to Thesalesadvice podcasts on:

Download this article as an e-book

2140cookie-checkStatus Quo and the Cost of Inaction

Leave a Reply