I think I have used this line before in my writing but there are two things people hate: They way they are (The Status Quo) and change.
Most sales methodologies will talk about finding the pain. The thought process being if you can find the pain, and your product can solve for that pain, that you will make a sale. When you take this approach as a sales professional you personify what Abraham Maslow described in his Law of the Instrument. He stated: “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” If the only tool you have is the solution for a certain pain, then you will think every prospect has that pain.
A few years ago, I was trying to get back into running. I was overweight and when I ran my knee hurt. I talked with my doctor about it and he referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. I was nervous to meet with the surgeon because I assumed his first approach would always be surgery…I mean surgeon was in his job title. We did an MRI of my knee, we looked at my running form and the doctor told me it looked like I had a small tear or strain in one of my ligaments in my knee. He told me it could have been from overuse (my new running routine), my weight, or what he called an actual injury…meaning one that needed fixing from him. He gave me a couple of options. Option one was to wait it out and see what happens. Option two was to do some physical therapy. Option three was to change from running to a non-impact exercise like swimming until my body weight lowered to a point where I could run. Finally, option four was surgery. He admitted that option four really had only about a 60% chance of success based on all of the factors and he did not recommend it. We ultimately went with a combination of option two and three. I did a few weeks of physical therapy along with a few weeks of just swimming until my weight dropped. After about 6 weeks I was able to go back to running and the knee pain was gone.
Taking that example and looking at the opening line in this article around The Status Quo versus change. I could not continue with the status quo, but I also did not want to have surgery. I truly hated the status quo and the change needed to fix my knee. My orthopedic surgeon used a consultative sales approach and provided me with options. He gave me his recommendation but ultimately put the decision in my hands to make. The way that he handled that situation is the reason I recommend him to every one of my friends in need of an orthopedic surgeon.
When you engage with a prospect during their buying cycle, you need to realize they may have a “pain” like the popular sales methodologies like to discuss. But is the status quo pain they are feeling worse than the pain of change? The one thing the doctor did that helped me make my decision was he talked about the success rate of surgery. To get someone to compare the status quo to the change that you are presenting, you need to help quantify the results. When I looked at the four options presented to me. Option One (status quo) was too painful. Option two and three required no financial output, according to the doctor had a high rate of success and if it failed, we didn’t lose to much time, money or days out of work. Option 4 had too low of a success rate in his eyes, was going to be expensive and would have me out of work for a few weeks.
Can you answer the question: If we implement your solution, what is the rate of success? Success could mean solving the problem without generating more problems. Success could mean an acceptable rate of return on the investment made. Have a plan to be able to discuss what success looks like and be ready to win.