Paul shares important tips on moving the customer from what they’re currently using to your solution.
For buyers who don’t want to change, focus on what they stand to gain. Get them to think past what they sacrifice today.
Present the opportunity value of your solution.
Find a parallel between your solution and a similar decision the buyer has made in other parts of the organization.
Outline the small wins you need to achieve to make the sale.
Help the buyer along the path of self-discovery. Sell the idea of your solution as if it were the buyer’s idea.
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How do I convince the buyer to change from the status quo?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we are going to answer a question that was actually asked on the website. All right. So this is just reminder, make sure you go to visit the QandASalesPodcast.com. While you’re there, you can ask me a question and I will turn it into a show, just like I’m doing today.
Now, this question comes from Bilal. Bilal wants to know how he can convince his customer to switch from their existing service to a new one. So, for example, let’s say you have a customer who is using a CRM system and you want to sell them on a brand new CRM system—an upgraded version. How do you do it? So Bilal, thanks for asking the question.
Before we get into answering that question, just a reminder, Selling Through Tough Times is now available. It’s available wherever you get your books, whether it’s 800 CEO Reads (which I think is now changed. I think that’s Porchlight Books), Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Chapters. Wherever you get your books, you can find your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. In fact, one of the techniques we’re going to talk about today is in the book. We go into much more depth in the book on this one technique. It’s called self-discovery.
Let’s get back to that question—Bilal’s question—and we’re going to generalize it a little bit. And that question is: How do I convince the customer to switch from what they’re currently using? How do I get them to change from their status quo?
Now we think about this question. People in general, they don’t like to change. We like to stick with what we know. We like to stick with what is familiar. So how are we going to convince this buyer to change? So when we think about that, buyers, when they don’t feel like changing and they don’t want to change, they really focus on what they’re sacrificing. They focus on, “Okay, what do I have to change? What do I have to give up in order to embrace something new?” So they put a lot of focus on what they’re giving up, and that usually means price, time, energy, effort, all that. We’ve got to get them to think past that. So, here’s what we’re going to do—and I’m going to give you four tips/ideas to help you convince a customer to switch from what they’re currently doing, to convince them to change from the status quo.
So the first tip: focus on what the buyer stands to lose if they continue with just embracing the status quo. People are motivated for two reasons, and that’s either to experience a gain or to avoid a loss. And when you think about it, it’s usually a combination of those two things that will get someone to change. There’s a gain, and also, there’s a loss they’re trying to avoid. So, here’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to ask ourselves, ‘Okay, what is it that this buyer is going to gain when they move forward with us, with this new idea? When they change from what they’re currently doing, what is it that they’re going to gain?’
We have to present this to the customer using a technique we call presenting the opportunity value. And the opportunity value is asking the question, “What do we give the customer the opportunity to do tomorrow that they cannot do today?” This is a powerful question because, when the buyer answers this question, we’re not only highlighting what they stand to gain, but also, we’re looking at what they can’t do today. And then the pain of that—the pain of that is usually going to be enough to compel that buyer to act, or to at least consider it.
So, if we’re selling a new CRM system, we might say to ourselves, “Okay, Mr. Customer, here’s what we give you the opportunity to do tomorrow that you cannot do today. We give you the opportunity to communicate more effectively among your team. We give you the opportunity to have a live updated system so that your people are always viewing the most up-to-date data.” And whatever benefit, I mean, whatever you want to talk about, you can fill that in. So again, just answer that question: What do we give you the opportunity to do tomorrow that you cannot do today? This is a powerful question to answer, because again, it spotlights what they’re going to gain, but it also highlights what they currently cannot do. And what they currently cannot do is painful to them, so making them aware of that, they’re more likely to change.
Another thing to think about. When we’re trying to convince someone to change, we have to find a parallel. This is a technique we use where we’re kind of like using analogies here. We’re calling attention to one area of their business where they’ve already made a similar decision and we want to show the linkage on how what we’re offering them is fundamentally the same.
So, for example, let’s say this new CRM system that you are selling the customer, let’s say that this is a way to integrate disparate systems. So you’ve got all these different systems that are speaking their own language, but if you have a CRM system that brings everything together, look for other areas in their business where they’ve had disparate systems or processes or departments, and they bring them together. Fundamentally what you’re offering them will do the same thing. So, the key is, just think about what your solution will help them gain. What’s the fundamental concept or outcome that you’re really selling them on? And then all you need to do is look at other areas of their business where they’ve already bought into this idea, or they’ve made a change from the status quo.
And again, we as humans, we make decisions based on precedent. We like to use different examples from our past, and we like to use the same logic and reason that we applied to that decision to the one we have in front of us. So, we call that finding a parallel. So, find a parallel.
The third tip is, focusing on small wins. Any time you’re trying to get someone to change from what they’re currently doing, the key is to introduce that change little by little. It’s easier to change when that change happens little by little. And by finding those small wins and identifying them and then completing them—executing them—you have a better chance of convincing that buyer to change. So, a small win is just a concrete outcome of moderate importance. By itself, one small win doesn’t mean all that much, but when you combine all those small wins, it will lead to big change.
So, here’s what I would do Bilal. I would take a look at the decision that you’re asking your customers to make and ask yourself, ‘Okay. from initial contact to contract, what are the small wins that I need to achieve that will ultimately lead to a sale?’ What are those small wins, and a small win, again, is an achievable outcome. It’s a moderate outcome, not a big outcome, but a moderate one. And those small wins, when you combine all of them, it’ll generate some momentum. So just outline, what are the small wins that need to take place in order for you to win the sale. Then you just focus on achieving those small wins. And by focusing on those small wins, that also is going to keep you motivated, it’s going to keep you engaged along the way.
And then finally, There’s an idea, we call it self-discovery. And I mention this in my new book, Selling Through Tough Times. Self-discovery is about helping the buyer discover the need for your solution on their own. It’s almost like having them come up with their own idea. And that idea just happens to be the idea that you’re selling them on. We call this self-discovery, and it’s very persuasive. So here’s what I’d recommend doing. Bilal, go talk to your customer, and what you’re going to do is you’re going to present the features and the functionality of your new CRM system that you’re trying to sell them on. But rather than telling them how it’s going to benefit them, get them to tell you how it’s going to benefit them.
For example, I’ll play the role of the salesperson for a moment. I’ll say, “So, Mr. Customer, our new CRM system will do this, this, and this. Now from your perspective, Mr. Customer, what’s the greatest benefit of doing this, this and this?” And what you’re doing there is you’re having the buyer tell you what they stand to gain. They’re the one thinking of it. They’re thinking about how this is going to impact them. And this self-discovery is much more persuasive than you simply telling them what they stand to gain. So remember that self-discovery piece. That self-discovery is absolutely critical because, during uncertainty, and when buyers want to stick with the status quo, that change needs to emanate from within. Self-discovery can help you get there.
All right, Bilal, thanks for going to the website and asking that question. I hope this helps. I’ll give you my mailing address so when you bring this deal home, you can split the commission with me. I’m just kidding. But anyway, thanks for filling out that question form.
Make it a big day.