Why Sales Professionals Should Challenge the Status Quo

As a sales professional, you know that an important part of advancing your opportunities is a successful sales presentation. The last thing you want to do is rush through a presentation, read off the slides, and hope that the message “sticks” with your prospects. A great sales presentation should engage the customer; it should create a dialogue to stimulate interest and allow follow-up questions. Many times, sales presentations are enhanced by utilizing social proof, ROI projections, or even providing references to existing customers who are willing to share their experiences. In short, a successful sales presentation should be tailored to your customer’s needs and focus on the benefits of your products and services that they can gain from it.

But let’s take a minute to consider an additional, often overlooked option on how to advance towards a “close won” decision — discussing the consequences of inaction with your customers. Would the company lose market share or encounter other disadvantages if everything stayed the same? By examining the effects of remaining with the status quo, you often have an opportunity to strengthen your solution in the customer’s mind. To be successful with this approach, you need to highlight what can happen as a result of inaction:

  • Who would be negatively affected? (Think inside and outside the organization)
  • How severe would the level of impact be?
  • What are the long-term consequences for the company and customers if nothing happens?
  • How concerned are you that you might miss out on potential cost and time savings?

In today’s business climate in which many organizations rely on consensus-driven decision making, it can bring about a game-changing realization when you choose to confront your prospect with these questions. Starting this dialogue can help them understand the costs and consequences of choosing to stick with the status quo.

To be successful with this technique, the seller must exercise a level of finesse. Embarking on a discussion regarding negative consequences is not without its challenges. For example, there is a risk that you may come across as pushy or argumentative. The customer may become defensive or even offended if they misinterpret you as being critical of their organization. After all, you are dealing with someone who has been deeply invested in their company’s success. You need to remember that you do not want to frighten your prospect and you should avoid overwhelming them with a list of negative statements.

The key to success is finding middle ground that allows your customer to look at the bigger picture and understand the risks of inaction. It’s about being consultative and providing just enough insight for the customer to be able to connect the dots themselves. Doing so will enable the customer to feel that they are making a positive choice for their company rather than having something shoved on them.

A good salesperson will be able to identify which approach is best suited for each prospect. Discussing the consequences of inaction can be a powerful tool to keep in your arsenal, particularly if you are dealing with prospects who are reluctant to make any decision at all. Remember to be mindful of your delivery and create a conversation where the customer is comfortable and feels understood. If you can create a connection with your prospect and show them that your primary concern lies with the success of their company, you will greatly increase your chances of your customer being receptive and engaging in a productive conversation about the true needs of their company.