How to Convince Your Prospect that Change is Good

Learn why the biggest hurdle to sales is inertia and how to persuade customers to take action.

May 10, 2016

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The conventional wisdom is that the key to sales is beating out competitors. But the most thoughtful sales and marketing experts know that's not true.

Instead, the biggest hurdle is your prospect's aversion to change. In the words of Corporate Visions' chief strategist Tim Riesterer, "Inertia is the enemy."

Therefore, overcoming that inertia is most challenging part of a sales rep's job.

Amar Sheth of Sales for Life agrees. Customers will tell you, “‘Call me in a month,’ or ‘We don’t have time for this,’” Sheth writes.

In fact, putting off a decision – or making no decision at all – is what buyers do most of the time, according to Riesterer's data.

You – the sales rep – must convince your potential buyer to reject the status quo. You get there by showing him or her how painful it is to do nothing.

How to Persuade Your Prospect to Change

When deciding how to approach a prospect, Riesterer urges looking far beyond a customer's stated needs. You should introduce needs that your prospect has not even thought of. 

"Your 'pitch' has to surprise them with issues they hadn’t considered in order to help them see that the pain of staying the same is actually bigger than the potential pain of change," he writes.

His team takes a well-researched, data-driven approach at how to overcome a customer's bias against change. Riesterer recommends looking at psychology and behavioral economics to figure out how to best persuade buyers.

Specifically, Corporate Visions partnered with professor Zak Tormala  from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business to conduct a study to measure the effectiveness and persuasiveness of different kinds of insights.

Study participants were divided up into two groups, each presented with information about Vitamin D deficiency. One group was shown insights about only the risks of deficiency and the other read about risks and resolutions.

Participants who got information on both the risk and resolutions were 9% more likely to take some sort of action to address the vitamin deficiency. This kind of research-backed study on human behavior show just how important it is to understand what sorts of messaging causes buyers to jump up out of their seats and make a decision.

A Final Note

It’s also important to make these kinds of insightful pitches consistently. As Riesterer writes, "reps who show a knack for presenting edgy, counterintuitive industry insights in their networks can make themselves a go-to source when their contacts are ready to buy."

Sharing surprising insights and new research can knock your prospect out of that state of inertia. In the world of social sales, content (not cold-calling) drives change.

When engaging in social selling, whoever is sharing the most targeted, effective insights as early (and often) as possible in a customer's sales journey is bound to reap the benefits.

To learn from more insights from sales and marketing leaders on how to improve your team's social sales, download our latest eBook.