Getting People to Action
Behavioral scientists have studied how people respond to winning and losing. They’ve even gone to the point of giving (spotting) people money to put them in a position where they can’t actually lose to see how they behave. Study after study consistently shows that people do far more to protect themselves from losing. Behavioral finance puts the difference at about 2x – people work twice as hard to avoid losing then they will to pursue winning. In times of distress, chaos or confusion the difference is even bigger.
This is a critical concept for anyone involved in a sales role to understand. Traditional selling teaches that you should focus on the benefits, or the value of someone doing business with you. As a result, salespeople are always focusing on what some will gain from working with them. While this creates a positive feeling, in times like these where budgets are tight, priorities are overwhelming and resources are limited it does not promote action. Often it’s quite the contrary. Selling initiatives and proposals get stuck in committee and review; or, God forbid, get sent to procurement.
Rather than fighting human nature, selling organizations need to embrace it. Salespeople need to spend less time focused on the value of doing business with them, and far, far more time on the cost of not doing business with. Stop now and ask yourself, what’s the cost – the consequence – for that prospect you’re working to close if they fail to do business with you? What happens if they buy from a competitor? What happens if they do nothing, and just maintain the status quo? What would go wrong (or fail to go right)? Why and how does that matter to them?
When the answer to those three questions are clear, you’ll know the focus for your sales approach. It’s not about the product, or even the benefits. Your job is to lead that prospect to understand the consequences.