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Turning Nightmares into Sales

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The number one challenge for a salesperson is overcoming inertia. Every salesperson knows this well. Far more often than losing a sale to the competition, you fail to make a non-decision, essentially defaulting to maintain the status quo.

In all likelihood, it’s not that you weren’t able to convey your value proposition or demonstrate the potential ROI of substituting your solution for their existing practices.

Instead, it’s simply a matter of prospects having to confront the often irrational fear of abandoning what they have been doing up until now. Unfortunately, that has been failing them to adopt a new process that is far better. Change is that scary, and inertia is that powerful.

Inertia, and the irrational fear of change, can and have caused companies to fail

Ironically, inertia is often more potent in the most critical situations in which the problems have existed for a long time. What else could an otherwise smart and rational business person explain the delay in identifying and implementing a solution with far greater potential to resolve the problems before things reach a critical stage?

Compare it, if you will, to an individual with a phobia. According to the American Psychiatric Association, a phobia is defined as an irrational and excessive fear of an object or situation. In most cases, the phobia involves a sense of endangerment or a fear of harm. Phobias strike brilliant people as often as people who are less intellectually gifted. It is intelligence neutral.

One of the most successful approaches to treating phobias is guided imagery. Patients are systematically desensitized to the object of their fears by visualizing situations in which they can calmly and safely coexist with the thing of their worries.

So how does that inform the sales process, primarily related to the fear of change?

When you present your value proposition, after having assessed and diagnosed their needs and crafted a solution, it will help if you can give them a meaningful opportunity to visualize life after the change is implemented. Help them imagine how they will feel about the success of adopting a new and improved solution. Let them dwell on that. Indeed, encourage that actively.

Encourage them to be active participants in that endeavour. It’s like the beer commercial where you see two (or more) attractive people sitting on a lounge chair on the beach with a slice of lime hanging off the rim of their beer bottles and listening to the waves crashing on the shore.

Ask them… literally ask them … to picture themselves without the problems caused by their current practices (or their lack of an adequate solution). How would that free them up to deal with more significant issues? How would other people regard them in the light of that success? How would they feel if they had a solution that would enable them to sleep at night unfettered by the challenges they face now?

By helping the prospect imagine and embrace a positive outcome – instead of being haunted by the nightmare of what catastrophe change might cause – you will give them a path to embracing change instead of fearing it. It’s as if you could provide a claustrophobic locked in closet the power to imagine that the door is transparent or invisible.