Recently I wrote about wanting to tell clients what to do and why we couldn’t, even if we know better. The premise was that what may seem so obvious to us may not be obvious to the client or on their agenda at all.
Why? Simply put, if the client or prospect does not perceive or admit to having an issue, a problem, a challenge, some difficulty they want to overcome, or even an opportunity they want to ignite, then they will not perceive the need to change what they are doing now.
And even if they can see it or feel it, they may have various reasons why they don’t want to do anything about it now.
Here are some reasons why people may not want to change:
• They don’t see a reason to change; they can’t be bothered to change; they see it as too hard/difficult to change; they are too afraid to change;
• They have had a bad experience with something similar to what you are offering and don’t want to go there again;
• They do not have the authority to make the decision to change and therefore cannot buy;
• They do not have the budget to take on what you are offering right now or ever;
• They feel it’s not the right time to change; or there is too little time to achieve the change they want; or
• They are distracted by other influences telling them what to do or how to think.
Even if we flash all the benefits as to why they should change, psychologically most human beings are more likely to go without if they cannot really feel the true pain of their situaiton.
Unless there is some form of intense pain — a major discomfort — for what ever reason, most people are unlikely to do anything about the situation.
And if this is the case, we cannot offer a solution if there is no problem or no perceived problem that is painful enough to address now.
However, all is not lost when it comes to sales and helping clients move forward and make good decisions with us.
We must first recognise that pains, problems, issues, needs, and opportunities — call them what you will — come in many shapes and sizes. It will depend on the role the client has; the current state of their markets/teams/customers/competitors; their personal circumstances/values/drivers; and their experience and capability as to what their pains may be.
But the pain must be personal.
Our first job as salespeople is to find out if a problem or pain exists from the client’s perspective and is recognised by them as being important. We must be good detectives and look at the following.
Reasons for their issues
• What is the root cause for their problem?
• Help them find out: ‘Why am I having trouble?’
What can we do as salespeople?
• Uncover the things we cannot influence;
• Identify the things we can influence; and
• Select the things we can educate them on to help them deal with their problem.
When we are dealing with more complex business problems we need to identify the “pain chain”. The “pain chain” describes the departments and functions that are affected by a decision or action taken by another function of the business. Understanding the fundamental structure of a buyer’s value chain therefore assists in identifying the “pain chain”, which in turn can assist both the client and sales person in determining the best solutions for the problem at hand.
Truth is, it was easier in the 20th century when part of any good salesperson’s job was to educate their clients and keep them informed about the latest in this and that, and help them see what pains and issues they were facing and how to solve them.
In the 21st century, the internet is doing a pretty good job of keeping clients informed. However, as there is so much information to wade through, clients can experience the paradox of choice. This means they become indecisive, overwhelmed and challenged when it comes to making informed decisions about what to do, even if they are in pain and have issues to address. The paradox of choice can lead to no decision, which could be very dangerous for the client.
Ironically, this paradox of choice is a pain in itself that salespeople can help clients solve by being great information sorters and sifters; helping clients clear the clutter and make informed decisions.
In summary, you cannot help someone if they do not want help or not perceive needing help. It is our job as salespeople to properly diagnose our clients’ situations first and then determine if they do indeed have a pain (whether they know it or not). And then act accordingly from there.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.