If you want to influence others, gain new customers, or increase your sales to current customers, selling change is a key skill to master. The better you are at it, the more velocity you will gain in closing more sales—faster.
Customers are often reluctant to make changes due to perceived risk. Whether you want someone to change vendors, increase their budget (change their perceived value), or change processes to bring in your product or service, you are asking them to take on risk. To sell these changes, it is vital to understand the psychological aspects of the decision you are asking your buyer to make.
These deals stall when you fail to sufficiently mitigate the risk level for the customer to accept your proposed change. Here’s how you take care of that:
4 Things You Must Do to Successfully Sell Change
1. Connect Emotionally with the Customer. Start with their heart, then move to their brain to compare offerings. Do this by asking the customer how things have changed in their business and industry: What do they have to do to maintain their market share and what challenges do they face in doing so? Use empathy. No one will ever go along with your proposed change if they sense you don’t really know what they are going through. If they sense a lack of empathy, they simply won’t listen.
2. Use CONTEXT to Position Your Offering. Once you connect on an emotional level, then you can move to the mindful conversation about how you are going to produce the outcomes they are seeking. This is where you present your products/services in the CONTEXT of what the customer just told you are her issues. If you present your solutions first without context, then you will never get to second base.
3. Understand that Change Causes Everyone Pain. Buyers will not take that risk unless you walk them through a conversation in which they describe the consequences (not you telling them) they are dealing with due to the gaps they are currently experiencing. At the end, they have to realize that staying with their present solution will cost more in terms of money, downtime, lost revenue opportunities, lost market share, and even quality of life than to make the switch.
4. Simplicity Sells. Once you get the buyer on board, you have to do everything you can to make your customer comfortable in pushing your case up the ladder. Keep in mind that purchasing agents, engineers, project managers, and other personnel involved in the buying decision don’t want to do anything that puts their career in jeopardy. You have to present a simple case, because buyers often want to make the pitch themselves to the others involved in the process. Make the pitch so simple and obvious that a ten-year-old could repeat it with passion. Otherwise the buyer will screw up the messaging, leave out salient points, and fall short in getting your proposal accepted.
You can find more information on how to sell change and the questions you need to ask in the CEO best-selling book Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way.