As a Sales Leader, I often coach reps on the “art of the sale”. I find that one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of many reps is that they prioritize the Relationship with the customer above all else. Listen – we all know that relationships are important. People want to do business with people they like. However, it’s also important that reps are skilled in being a Change Agent (that term makes me think of James Bond with an MBA). Bottom line, sales reps need to become comfortable with making others uncomfortable.
Nature is to resist change – to continue with what is proven and safe. The unknown is scary – it comes with new sets of questions about what might be. An effective way to elicit change is through careful exploration of negative stimulus. Let’s think about migrating animals. The negative stimuli – be it lack of food, or cold temperatures, or overcrowding – these negative conditions are what stimulate migration. Otherwise, everybody would probably stay put. It’s the same with humans. Most people won’t change what they know to be safe and comfortable unless there is something making them uncomfortable with where they already are. To sell someone on something new – you must present them not only with the benefits of the new situation, but the drawbacks of the old.
Of course, those of us that are early adopters are slaves to whatever is new or cool (we are the geeks that were online today to get our orders in for the i pad). For us, the potential negative stimulus is being envious of those that have the latest gadget in their bag while we get left behind with old technology.
The most successful reps – the most persuasive individuals – are those balance the benefits of the new product / gadget / service / concept while also carefully painting the picture of remaining with the status quo.