Editor’s Note: The following is Part 2 of a Sales Q&A by author and speaker Dave Kahle
Q. Any suggestion for how to deal with the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude?
A. This is one that frustrates every salesperson. Let’s start by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. You’ve shown him your product, and it’s noticeably better/cheaper than what they are currently using. Or, they won’t even take the time to look at your latest and greatest solution. Regardless of where you are at in the sales process, the problem is that you have something better, and they won’t budge from using an inferior solution.
Let’s consider the reasons why the customer won’t budge. Here are the big three.
1. The perceived benefit from switching the product is not worth the time and effort the customer must invest in the change process.
2. The potential change infringes on a well-established relationship.
3. The risk isn’t worth it.
Your solution is based on your analysis of the reason why they don’t buy. If the reason is the customer views the benefit of changing as not worth the effort, then you must either reduce the effort, or increase the perceived benefit. Offer to do as much of the work of changing as you can. Provide all the information in an easy to use format so that it is easy to put into the computer. Offer to write the memo announcing the change, to train all the employees in the details of the new thing, etc. Make it less costly in terms of time and effort.
Or, make the benefit appear bigger and more attractive. Do some financial justification. Show the impact on processes and the customer’s customer. Make your product even more compelling.
If the reason they don’t buy is number two, your best hope is to convince the customer that the change won’t jeopardize the existing relationship. Minimize the impact on the competitor. And, again, maximize the benefit of your product.
This is the most difficult situation to deal with, because the reason they aren’t buying is something about which you can’t do much- a relationship with a competitor. You may be reduced to the fall back position of last resort- proactively wait for something to change in your customer’s relationship with the competition.
If the reason they don’t buy is risk, your strategy is to reduce the perception of risk. Remember, risk is perception, not necessarily reality. The problem is that the customer perceives there to be risk to him in the decision to buy. So, reduce the customer’s perception of risk by using a combination of risk-reducing tactics. Make the product seem more real by having him see it in operation in a different customer’s environment. Back it up with written guarantees and warranties. Make it seem like a lot of people have successfully used the product by having pictures of other customers using it. Acquire letters of recommendation and testimonials from other customers. Anything you can do to have someone else, beside yourself, say good things about the product is a worthwhile effort. Bring the customer into your facility, and let him meet the people who make things happen for you. All of these things reduce the risk to the customer.
One final thought. Understand that our customers are far more motivated to take action by the avoidance of pain than they are the acquisition of some benefit. We are so used to talking about the benefit of our product to the customer, and that often falls on deaf ears. Far more powerful is the perception that our solution makes some intense pain go away. If you can identify some significant pain that the customer is experiencing, and show how your LAGS makes the pain go away, you will have provided the customer significant motivation to shove all three of the above reasons down the list.
Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople, sales managers and business owners to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He’s authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. To access Dave’s training, insights and tools online, visit The Sales Resource Center. Visit www.davekahle.com to check out a seminar near you.