What are the consequences of doing nothing/not changing? The answer to this question is the single most important issue in every sales opportunity. Yet, when I ask this question in deal reviews, fewer than 5% of sales people can respond.
If the customer can’t identify, independently or with our help, the consequences of not changing, not taking action, not moving forward, they have no need to buy!
We still have a need to sell, and, too often, we continue to pester the customer in our efforts to sell them. Regardless how much we do, how much time we rob from the customer, they won’t–and shouldn’t buy!
To get the answer to this question, we have to, first, identify a problem, issue, opportunity the customer cares about, and recognizes they have—revenue growth, cost reduction, margin improvement, customer acquisition/retention, employee satisfaction/productivity, addressing changes in the market, overcoming competition, addressing new markets.
Once the customer has identified an issue, they can start to identify the consequences of not addressing the issue. This becomes the compelling issue for them to resolve in their buying process.
Understanding the answer to this single question frames everything we do in our subsequent activities with the customer.
- How do we help eliminate the consequences of doing nothing?
- How do we reduce the risk of that change?
- How do we reduce the time to results?
- How do we do this better than anyone else?
All our conversations become less about our product and what we do, but are focused on how we and the customer address the consequences of doing nothing.
Throughout the buying process, we must help the customer keep this issue front and center to everything they are doing. As attention drifts from this, buying stalls—again, the need to buy appears to diminish. Often, they get caught up in the “tasks,” of buying, forgetting why they are buying in the first place.
Helping the customer remember, “these are the consequences for not achieving our goal,” helps keep them focused and moving forward when they lose their way.
The answer to this question is critical not only to helping the customer stay focused, but to helping them accelerate their process to reduce the time to their expected results. “We are doing this to eliminate this problem and achieve these results, the sooner we are able to do so, the greater the value we achieve!”
If there is a secret to sales success, working with the customer in identifying the consequences of doing nothing, or not changing, keeping that front and center in their buying process, is the closest to a secret that I can identify.
If your customer doesn’t know the answer to this, they aren’t buying regardless of how much you try to sell.
If you don’t know the answer to this, you don’t know how to win the deal.