Selling is all about getting people to change and change always involves risk. Generally, when given a choice, most people will always choose to not change. People are creatures of habit and change requires them to break old habits and create new ones. What makes selling difficult is the fact that it requires you to work against human nature by getting people to change (and you thought this was going to be easy!).
If you think about it, much of the resistance (objections, stalls) you will encounter in sales is a function of risk. Most people will resist change if they believe that the risk they take to change is greater than the risk they will experience by deciding to not change. The old belief "better to live with the devil you know, than the devil you don't know" is what makes it difficult to create the inertia you need to get people to change. It is a powerful force that we will all have to deal with.
So, how do we lower risk, or at least lower the perception of risk, to get more people to take the risks they need in order for us to sell. Two critical strategies come to mind for us to consider:
- Identifying and clearly understanding your prospects problems will lead them to believe that through your understanding, it is less likely that you will sell them a solution that will not work. Asking questions that give you a full understanding of their situation will help to alleviate their fear of risk.
- Helping them to understand that the "discomfort" that exists now (consequences, circumstances of staying the same) will be diminished by their willingness to go through the "discomfort" of change. Again helping them to overcome the perceived risk.
The first strategy requires us to be good at "information gathering" questions. Questions like:
- Tell me more about the problems that you are experiencing?
- How long have you had this these problems?
- What have you done to try to solve them?
- How did that work?
- Specifically, what impact or consequences do they have on you and your company?
- Do the problems cost you/your company any money?
- Are there any other solutions that you are considering now?
- What happens if you don't fix them?
As you gain information you create the belief that through the information you have gained it is more likely that you will deliver a recommendation that will work...hence, lowering risk (you may also find this is a good strategy that helps to differentiate you from your competition).
The second strategy requires us to ask "consequence" questions. Questions like:
- What happens if this doesn't get fixed?
- Is this something you can live with?
- How would not being able to solve the problems affect you personally?
- Who else is affected by these problems?
- Maybe it's something you really don't need to worry about?
These questions help the prospect understand that not solving the problem may actually be a bigger risk then the risk they will need to take to change. They are often exactly the questions that you need to create the inertia for change.
Your ability to ask both of these types of questions will help you and your prospect understand and limit the risks involved in changing. Lowering risk is one of the keys to being successful in sales!
Action Step:Add these questions to your sales process. Until you can establish that the risk of "not changing" is greater than the "risk of change" the result will be "no sale"!