Trying to close a sale when a customer has no sense of urgency is like pushing a rope uphill. There’s a huge amount of effort, lots of activity, lots of flailing, but very little progress.
Let’s face it, if the customer has no sense of urgency to change, we’re wasting both our time and that of the customer. As much as we may want something to happen, it won’t until the customer has a high sense of urgency.
So if we see a great opportunity, what are we to do? Are we supposed to walk away until the customer sees it as well? Absolutely not!
Perhaps there’s no urgency because we are spending all our time pitching a product. We leave it to the customer to figure out how it fits and why they need to consider it. Yeah sure, the sales person promises it will reduce some sort of expense and solve all sorts of problems. They’ll talk about all sorts of customers getting value out of the solution, but until the customer recognizes the need to change and owns it for themselves, we won’t achieve anything.
Perhaps we’re focusing on the customer, have identified an opportunity, but can’t get the customer excited about it. We may be calling too low. The person we may be talking to, may not want to change–it just creates more work, risk, and hassle. It’s easier to do nothing. Or the person we are talking to wants to change, but doesn’t have the ability to drive the change themselves. We may need to call higher, finding someone who cares and wants to change and has the ability to make it happen.
Perhaps we create a false sense of urgency. We’ve all heard of the “FUD Factor,” (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). With FUD, we create anxiety or even panic with the customer. Sometimes, when we try to “disrupt” customer thinking, rather than gaining a true commitment to change, to address an opportunity, we create anxiety. It’s difficult to make a lot of progress on these types of opportunities. There may be a huge amount of activity, but there’s often not a lot of progress.
FUD tends to drive concerns about risk, fears about change. There’s a natural tendency for the customer to enlist more people and support in deciding to move forward. With more people, aligning the differing priorities, agendas, interests make the process more difficult. We try to move the customer forward, but things slip and slip and slip. Often the initiative will die under it’s own weight.
So how to we get the customer to move forward?
We have to create real urgency with our customers. We have to show the customer real opportunities to grow, to eliminate problems they are having, to improve their operations. Getting the customer focused and owning real opportunities helps reduce resistance to change.
If we can’t help the customer discover real opportunities to grow and improve, we can’t create a sense of urgency. We won’t get the customer to move because they simply don’t have the reason to move.
Spend your time understanding the customer’s business. Find real opportunities for improvement. Help the customer discover those, get them excited about the change. Once they do the deal will move forward.