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Great Sales Strategy: Beat the Status Quo

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Acknowledging the status quo can heat up sales.

What does it take to defeat your biggest competitor? When I ask most people that, I hear all about the need for lower prices, more advertising, better service or additional capabilities.

That’s poppycock! Your success in winning more sales is intimately tied to your ability to disrupt the status quo and maintain momentum.

Of course, the last thing that crazy-busy prospects want is change. They hate dealing with the chaos it creates. Nor do they want to take time to determine ROI, evaluate competitors or get the necessary buy-in. Plus, change is risky; careers are on the line.

And disrupting the status quo/introducing change is pretty difficult to do if no one returns your calls and emails go unanswered. Worse yet, when you actually do talk to prospects, they quickly brush you off, saying, “We’re happy with our current vendor.” But usually they’re not. They just don’t want to change.

If you want to create more sales opportunities, here’s what you need to do:

Gather Better Ammunition

Your prospects don’t care about your products or services. All they care about is the impact you can have on their business. That means you need to talk about your offering in a different way.

Start by gaining an understanding of your prospect’s baseline. You’ll find that they’re typically using older products/services, doing things themselves with internal staff or a combination of both.

Learn as much as you can about the most common scenarios you encounter. Pay special attention to potential shortcomings. If your prospects haven’t changed in years, there are always hidden costs—ones that they may not even know about.

Perhaps things are too slow. Maybe they’re paying too much. They might lack the right data to make decisions. Duplication of effort might be driving up labor costs. Your prospect’s aggressive new goals could be difficult to reach without changing their status quo.

Before you approach a prospect, talk to your most recent customers. They can tell you how things were before they worked with your company as well as how changing has impacted them.

Use what you’ve learned to craft irresistible value propositions focused on what you can offer your prospects, such as:

  • We help technology companies shrink time-to-revenue on new product introductions from 17 to 24 percent.

  • In our work with restaurant menus, we’ve increased customer spend by up to 31 percent.

  • We help HR executives significantly reduce turnover of potential high-level employees.

Make sure to identify who you help, in what area and, if possible, by how much. This is what your prospects want to hear about! It’s not about your software, consulting or printing capabilities. It’s about what happens when people use them.

Jolt Them Out of Complacency

Now it’s time to launch a campaign to get on their calendar. But you’re not going to use the same old worn-out messaging that caused premature rejection:

“Good morning, Mr. Big. I’m Jill Konrath, from Great Sales Training. We specialize in offering a full range of workshops for all your salespeople’s needs. I’d love to set up a time to talk with you about how you’re currently handling your sales training and update you on our most requested programs. I’d be glad to meet with you at your earliest convenience.”

Boring! And totally delete-inducing. If you say anything remotely similar, you’re creating your own obstacles.

Your messages have to change immediately to something like this:

“Eric, Jill Konrath calling. In my work with other sales VPs, I know that one of the biggest challenges they’re facing is new account acquisition. We’ve been helping larger clients speed up their sales cycles. I’ve got some ideas that might be helpful. Let’s set up a quick conversation.”

See the difference? The first one is salesy; the latter is all business. That’s what wakes up a complacent prospect. It also makes you sound like a credible resource—one who’s worth talking to. You’ve piqued your prospect’s curiosity, and they’ll want to learn more. In short, you’re making progress against the status quo.

Plan on making multiple contacts via email and phone. It often takes 8–12 touches to actually connect.

Keep the Momentum Going

To maintain your prospect’s interest, keep your focus entirely on helping them achieve their business objectives. That’s all that matters. That’s how you defeat the status quo.

In your initial conversation, share examples of how you’ve helped similar customers. Talk about the challenges they faced before you worked with them and the results they’ve achieved since changing.

Then transition into questions to determine what you can do to help them increase efficiency, reduce costs, drive revenue or whatever other business driver you could impact. Don’t talk about your offering yet. Your entire purpose is to assess whether a change would be worth it—to them.

If you get an inkling that it would, suggest the logical next step. You might need to do a more in-depth analysis, which could involve other people in your/their organizations. Perhaps you need to do a demonstration or a presentation.

If lots of people are involved in the decision or if it’s complex, you need to provide leadership. Show your prospect the steps involved in the process. Let them know who needs to be involved and when. Give them tools to help them assess the ROI. Suggest possible criteria for evaluating vendors.

Be the expert, always providing valuable ideas, insights and information to help them achieve their business objectives.

That’s what it takes to dislodge the status quo. And so few sellers do it. Most are desperately dialing for dollars, hoping to find a person who’s ready to buy. Before they know it, they’re immersed in price wars, fighting a losing battle to differentiate themselves from competitors.

To win more business today, go after the real competition—the status quo. Become a master at helping your prospects move from complacency to curiosity and, ultimately, closure. When you do, you’ll be unstoppable.

Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies.

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