“People are more open to change when ….”
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How do I convince the buyer to change?
(Transcribed from podcast)
We are closing in on our 100th episode—just four episodes away from the big 100th episode. Make sure you tune in for that show. I’m going to go back and actually take a look at some of the most popular questions that we have answered throughout the past year and a half, and I’m going to build on those. We’re going to maybe even have a guest or two. Who knows? It’s going to be epic. So, make sure you tune in and check that out.
But, for this episode, we’re going to talk about a biggie. This is one of those questions that we’ll continue to answer on the show because it’s such a big question; it’s such a challenge that salespeople face. That question is: How do I convince the buyer to change? And when you think about it, that is what we do as salespeople. We are in the persuasion business. So in today’s episode, I’m going to give you four tips and ideas to help you convince that buyer to change.
Before we do that, quick shout-out to Andrea over at The Creative Impostor Studios—doing a wonderful job on the podcast. Podcasting is such a great way to connect with your audience, and it’s a way to even reach a new audience; the same way this podcast has now reached over 60 countries. It continues to grow and grow. It’s a great way to connect with people. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, reach out to Andrea. There’s going to be a link to her website on this episode’s webpage.
Also, pick up your latest copy of Value-Added Selling. In Value-Added Selling, we have a whole section in the book around the psychology of decision-making. Some of the things we talk about today are actually in that book. So pick up your copy. It’s available on Amazon. Again, this is your go-to guide. As you start out 2021, start off strong. Pick up your copy of the book.
Let’s get back to that question: How do you convince the buyer to change? Well, there are four things we’re going to talk about today. The first one is, highlight the positive impact of the change. Number two; draw some parallels. Number three; highlight the negative impact of the status quo. And number four; ask the buyer to make small changes, mini commitments, along the way.
So, back to that first one: highlight the positive impact of change. When you think about your buyers and your decision makers, it might drive you absolutely crazy. Especially when you are offering a solution that you know is better—that will have a greater impact on the customer—but they still won’t change. Here are a couple of things we need to consider. We need to make sure that we’re highlighting the positive impact of change. I use that word, impact, very intentionally. Because, sometimes salespeople just highlight the positive aspects of the solution, but not the positive impact.
When we talk about impact, we want to know how your solution will impact—how it will affect—that key decision maker, and how it will affect their company. It’s one thing to say, “Our new solution is easier to operate.” Oh, that’s great. That’s a feature. That’s an attribute. What does that really mean? Okay, well, what’s the impact? That’s what we’re going for. “Well, our new machine is really easy to use, which means you will enhance productivity. It means that you will improve efficiency that will lead to greater profitability; that will lead to cost savings.”
That’s the real impact, the cost savings. That’s the real impact that we’re looking for is the profit, the efficiency that goes along with it. So, when you’re communicating your value-added extras, when you’re communicating the benefits of your solution, you need to highlight how it impacts that key decision maker, because that’s what they really care about. So, translate your value added into meaningful impact for the customer. And when you do that, it becomes more compelling.
Now, I’m going to throw out a ratio here that you need to keep in mind. This came from a great book called Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I’ve referenced this book a couple of times on the show. But, in his book, he highlights a couple of experiments, and he developed a ratio. Here’s the experiment. He asked people, “If you could lose $10 on a bet—let’s say you were wagering, making a wager, and you could potentially lose $10. How much would you have to be able to gain to make it worth potentially losing $10?” And, people would come back and say things like, “Well, if I’m going to lose $10, I’d have to have the opportunity to gain $15, $20, (sometimes even) $25.” He got a myriad of responses, all kind of within that range. So, he developed this ratio that basically states, whatever people could potentially lose, they have to have the opportunity to gain one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half times what they stand to lose.
So, what that means as a salesperson—let’s think about this. Your solution that the buyer is considering, they are going to have to sacrifice something to attain that solution. Not only the money to buy the solution, but also they’re having to sacrifice time, switching out, conversion, all of that cost. So, I want you to calculate what they’re really giving up. That includes the price and the total cost. What they’re sacrificing— your impact has to be one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half times what they’re giving up. And if it’s not one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half times greater than what they’re giving up, we have to realize that maybe they aren’t going to change, because that potential impact isn’t enough to get them past what they sacrifice.
Again, tip number one: highlight the positive impact of your change and make sure that whatever they’re sacrificing—whatever they’re giving up—the gain has to be one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half times whatever they’re going to potentially give up.
Next, tip number two: we want to draw parallels. When you are asking a buyer to change, it’s usually because you’re asking them to do something new. People don’t really like to change. They don’t like to change; they like to stick with the status quo and all that. So, you need to draw a parallel as to how your solution is fundamentally the same as what they’re currently doing.
For example, let’s say you are selling a solution that will help increase uptime at their manufacturing facility. And let’s just say it’s software. You’re selling software that will help increase uptime at their manufacturing facility. You want to draw a parallel, and you want to say this to the buyer, “Look Mr. Buyer. All we’re really selling here—it’s not just a software package. What we’re selling is increased uptime. And if we look at your manufacturing facility already, look at all the other ways that you have tried to increase uptime around here. You’ve enhanced the equipment that you’re using so that it’s more productive, increasing your uptime. You’ve automated many aspects of your facility so that you can increase uptime. All of these advancements were made with the whole idea of increasing uptime. So it would only make sense that you choose a software package that would further increase your uptime.”
See, what we’re doing is we’re drawing a parallel. We’re showing the buyer that our new idea, or what we’re selling them, is really familiar to them already. That’s how we convince them to change is we show them that whatever we’re asking them to change towards is something that’s familiar to them already.
The third thing: we want to highlight the negative impact of sticking with the status quo. People do things for one or two reasons: because they’re going to gain something, or to relieve some sort of pain. Usually it’s a combination of both. In the first example, when we’re highlighting the positive impact of change, we are playing on that gain piece. But what we know from behavioral research is that losses loom larger than gains. People would rather not lose than win. And so we definitely need to highlight the negative impact of sticking with the status quo.
So, when we’re talking to your customers, here’s how we want to frame that. We want to say, “Look, I know that there’s a cost associated with making this transition by trying something new, and that cost is going to be a significant investment on your part. But what we need to acknowledge is what the greater cost would be. And the greater cost would be sticking with what you’re currently doing. Let’s take a moment here and revisit what your current solution is actually costing you.”
When you frame it that way, then you can go back and say, “Hey, it’s slower productivity. You’re losing labor on this project. You’re losing money. You’re losing productivity. You’re using an inefficient methodology to solve this problem. It’s costing your company money.” You’re just highlighting what they stand to lose by sticking with the status quo. And by highlighting that, it’s going to open them up to your ideas. It’s going to make them aware of what they’re sacrificing to stick with that status quo. So, point number three, again, is highlight the negative impact of the status quo. Highlight what it’s really costing them if they choose to do nothing, because more times than not, that’s going to be the greater cost in the long run.
Fourth tip: When you are getting people to change, it’s better off having them change little by little. Think about this. Think about any big change that you’ve made in your life. Maybe those changes that at first seem overwhelming, if you can make that change little by little, it seems easier. That’s what we’re asking our buyers to do.
For example, one group I recently did some training with, they’re selling comprehensive enterprise software-type of solutions. And one salesperson said, “Depending on the size of the opportunity, when I’m going in there, when I am trying to sell our total solution, I’ll start off with something small. I’ll start off with one of our more innovative lead-in type of products that will, at least, get my foot in the door. I’m asking them to make some sort of small change. And that small change, once implemented, it proves to be successful, we can then leverage that and move on to another little change.” He said, “If I go in there and try to ask for everything all at once, it might not end up working. But, if I can have the buyer change little by little, well, that’s going to become easier for them in the long run.”
And that’s what we’re trying to do. When you’re convincing the buyer to change, think about the big change that you’re asking them to make, and then take that big change and break it down into small, bite-size chunks. And that’s what we’re going to feed the customer. We focus on those small changes that will eventually lead to that big change. Remember, people are more open to change when change will happen, little by little. So, focus on achieving those small wins.
Make it a big day.