Hank Barnes has been writing a fantastic series of articles focusing on Decision Confidence. One of the reasons I’m so fascinated by the article is Hank is directly appealing to my mathy-science nerdiness. Long time readers will know I often try to codify issues around mathematical equations.
Hank has generated an equation on Decision Confidence:
His variables are:
- CB = Confidence Builders
- V = Validation
- E = Level of Effort required to confirm the confidence builder.
- CE = Confidence Eroders
- I = Impact.
The formula is very elegant and provokes a lot of reflection. It approaches the elegance of Einstein’s E=MC2 (Hank, please don’t let this go to your head.).
I want to focus on the challenge of Confidence Eroders, but need to mention confidence builders for a moment.
Confidence Builders are the result of strong Business Focused Selling. This focuses on the customer business problems, challenges, and risks. The process of engaging the customer in Business Focused Selling, is a value creation, articulation, communication, and realization process. Great sellers recognize this, focusing on helping the customer recognize and understand the issues, building their confidence through the process.
In looking at Hank’s equation, great sellers are simultaneously working those three parts of the equation: CB, V, E!
Sadly, most sellers ignore this. They focus on proving the value of the product, not building the confidence of the buyers in their change management process.
While building confidence is something too few sellers focus on, perhaps the most challenging part of the job is recognizing and addressing the Confidence Eroders!
Recognizing and addressing Confidence Eroders makes the task of herding cats look trivial. Where Confidence Builders remain relatively constant over the buying process, Confidence Eroders are constantly changing. They arise and disappear from meeting to meeting or from individual to individual. And the problem with Confidence Eroders, is they kill deals!
While they may be different across individuals in the buying team, but only one person with no confidence can kill a deal!
And the Confidence Eroders may be totally illogical and emotional! But they impact the ability of the buyers to move forward. The fear of messing up (FOMU or FOFU) may not be rational. Or it maybe deeply personal, “If we do something wrong, I might lose my job!” Or for the group, “If we do something wrong, we really hurt the company!”
As we look at these Confidence Eroders, that may be deeply personal and, possibly irrational, they take a “larger than life,” place in the customers’ minds. There tends to be a magnifying impact for each of these Eroder. It’s the fact these are very human, personal reactions to change and risk, that they get magnified.
And great sellers recognize this. Through the buying process while recognizing they have to build confidence, they know, that customers struggle with FUD–fear, uncertainty, doubt. The talk to the customer about these. Sometimes, just getting them off their chests or knowing someone cares and is listening is sufficient to reducing the eroders.
Again, most sellers completely miss this. They are wired to push the product, to focus on features functions, to mechanistically deal with customers with which they have little relationship. So they not only miss the signal of these eroders, they are totally unconscious to them.
These concepts are critical to our success in connecting with customers with the greatest impact. Our ability to create and reinforce confidence, to recognize the real or imagined fears out customers have, to engage them in the issues that impact Decision Confidence drives, not only customer success, but our success.
Afterword: Our Business Focused Selling programs focus directly on these confidence issues. Reach out to learn more about how you can leverage them in your selling efforts.