Lessons that B2B Salespeople Can Learn from Politicians
Customers must first believe in the need to change before they will buy your product or services. Many sales reps ignore this imperative and forget to build the case for change. This results in stalled and lost deals. Many lost deals or opportunities that go cold are misunderstood. They get misclassified as lost because of no budget, no decision or a postponed project. The real reason many of these opportunities falter is that the case for change was not strong enough. Your product may be amazing and deliver incredible benefits. But the status quo is hard to overcome. The current state of affairs is safe. It’s less risky. It’s comfortable.
Politicians understand these principals well. Many politicians won’t take a definitive stance or declare a position on controversial issues. Instead, they focus on the need to change without elaborating on what that change will be. This is especially true when an upstart politician is trying to displace an incumbent. Why should voters take a risk on a new politician? Even if the incumbent has a poor track record the electorate is still hesitant to elect an unknown. This is a similar hurdle that exists in B2B sales scenarios. Decision makers dislike the risk of buying a new solution. The current solution may be “good enough”. Better the devil you know.
You can see this understanding of change reflected in campaign themes and slogans. Barrack Obama had the slogan and theme of “Change We Can Believe In”. Donald Trump won the US presidential election because “four in 10 voters said they were hungry for change, and those voters overwhelmingly favored Republican Donald Trump.” PBS New Hour. Nov 9, 2016.
The Wall Street Journal. Nov. 9, 2016 declared that “Donald Trump Captured Desire for Change”. The Trump slogan of “ ‘Make America Great Again!’ invokes a sense of nostalgia, inspires hope and elicits a desire for change” – International Policy Digest. 22 JAN 2017
**** This is in no way an endorsement of Donald Trump. Give credit to the Trump campaign for recognizing and capitalizing on the desire of the American people for a change.
In B2B Sales, like politics, you should focus on the need to change first. These are the steps to follow in the early stages of your B2B Sales and Marketing process. At the top of the sales funnel;
· Talk about your product
· Talk about features and benefits
· Talk about the competition
· Give demos of your products
· Determine your customers’ current status quo.
· Quantify the cost for the customer to keep the status quo (lost sales, higher costs, risks, etc…).
· Find a champion who is in favor of change. Arm your champion with the materials, information, and data they need to make the case for change. NOT the business case to buy your product (yet), just the case to alter the status quo.
· Show your customer the results that other companies have achieved after making a change
Focus on getting your customers to accept that they need to change the status quo first. If you can’t get them to agree on change then nothing else matters. Stop pushing product. No need to demo. You need to think like an upstart politician. They know not to talk in detail about all their great new policy ideas. They focus on how bad the incumbent is and the reasons to change. As a B2B salesperson, you need to take the same approach. Focus on the need for change, not how great your product and company are. Take this approach to win the election or sale…whatever you are going for.
About the Author: Bryan Socransky is the Principal Consultant of Disruptive Consulting Group. Bryan's experience spans over 25 years in enterprise software and B2B SaaS. He helps enterprise software, SaaS and IT companies grow by disrupting the status quo in favor of their innovative products and services.