Written by Sean McPheat |
Sigmund Freud had a way with words.
One of his theories was that pain can be more immediate than pleasure, leading us to become more concerned with avoidance of pain and hence paying more attention to it.
Many salespeople have heard this reckoning and have identified how recognising a client’s ‘pains’ and ‘problems’ can have a big effect on the decision-making process.
But the main caveat here is that many clients don’t realise they actually have a problem.
‘Find-out-what’s-wrong-and-fix-it’ salespeople are sometimes at a loss in this situation.
They are so used to talking to people who are in ‘pain’ (loss of profit, lower productivity, lack of results, increasing costs, high levels of change, etc.) that when a prospect says that they don’t perceive anything bad enough to make a decision to change, they don’t have many other options to offer them.
So what’s the option?
Well, try moving away from the pains (the negatives) and start highlighting the gains (the positives).
This requires you to start creating opportunity-thinking in the buyers’ minds, focussing on aspirations and possibilities that might not have considered before.
This involves a shift in focus by salespeople from highlighting what is wrong with situation to what could be right with future change.
What this means is the customer now is not concentrating on what is wrong (and conceivably there might not be anything worth changing for) but on what possibilities there may be with your products and services for their future.
It would sound something like this, if one of our business development guys was talking to a prospect:
“You’ll recall, Mr Prospect, that we discussed the idea of coaching your senior salespeople in advanced communications techniques. I know your team have attended many courses on this subject, and have seen improvements as a result. What I’d like to show you is how the return on your future investment will mean greater profitability for you and job satisfaction for your senior people too.”
Notice here that the emphasis is on the future benefits, not the current or past pains.
In many cases the prospect doesn’t see the need for change.
At that point, you need to shift the focus away from what is not happening to what could happen in the future.
If there’s nothing wrong at the moment, no convincing arguments on your part are going to change that perception.
Instead, change the modus operandi.
Start focusing on what benefits the future changes will bring, so it becomes so compelling to the prospect that they are drawn in that direction, thinking about the returns they will achieve, the increased production or the higher profits.
That way, you take them out of the comfort zone of current thinking and show them the opportunities of future ideas.
Try it, and see if the results you get are measurably better.
Originally published: 9 December, 2016
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