Sell the Pain of Change

Sell the Pain of change
No matter what you’re offering, you really sell is the pain of change. Every interaction needs to reinforce a buyer’s belief that the Emotional ROI will be worth it—and by big margins.

What do you sell? Is it a product? A solution? No matter what you actually sell, I can tell you this: What you really sell is the pain of change. Think about it. If you’re selling a new product, you’re telling the customer that the process of learning to use and implement your product will eventually (and hopefully sooner rather than later) be less painful than what they are currently doing. If you’re selling services, you are asking your buyer to believe that the pain of developing a new relationship with you as a service provider is going to be less than either a previous service provider or their internal process.

Another way to think about this is that selling Emotional ROI needs to be embedded in everything we do as salespeople. As discussed, the first step is to recognize that, just like consumers, B2B buyers make purchases for emotional reasons. Once we know that, every touch point needs to reinforce a buyer’s belief that the Emotional ROI will be worth it—and by big margins.

Reinforcing this belief is a balancing act of mitigating emotional risk. Let’s start with offering a good product, the first step in effectively selling Emotional ROI. Here are four tactics you can use to accomplish this.

Tactic 1: Ask Compelling Questions About Emotional ROI

Asking questions during the sales process that make prospects really think about all the issues involved in the purchase and implementation will help you and the prospect know if your solution is truly going to work for them.

Sometimes, salespeople avoid asking tough questions because we are afraid of the answers we may receive. We don’t want to consider, for example, that this may not be the best time for the client to implement. But wouldn’t you rather get the deal done and implemented when it makes sense for the client instead of forcing them into an implementation too early and ending up with an unhappy customer that is just going to churn the next year?

Here are some examples of questions you might consider asking to help a customer evaluate their own Emotional ROI:

  • Do you have other big projects already underway that could get in the way of implementing this solution?
  • Who else needs to get in on this purchase to make sure every- one who needs to have a say has it?
  • Based on our experience with other clients, this implementa- tion and adoption is going to take 15 hours of your time over the next two weeks and 90 hours of combined time by all involved in implementation over the next four weeks. Will you and oth- ers be able to devote the time necessary to work with our team to get this going?
  • Now that you understand what it will take to get this solution implemented, what seems more challenging: the downsides of your current solution or the effort required to get a solution like this in place?
  • What is top of mind for you next month and next quarter? Can you make this a priority? Given the value that we’ve established, are there other projects you could postpone to make sure we can get this going?

Again, these are tough questions. But it’s much better to ask them up front than it is to discover, after a client has already purchased your solution, that they simply don’t have the time or resources needed to implement it.

At Consensus, we call this focus on the post-sale deployment during the purchasing process “selling for the renewal.”

Tactic 2: Double Down on the Pain of the Status Quo

All B2B sales should start with the pain point you’re solving, but you need to evaluate whether the prospect sees the pain as a mosquito bite or a shark bite. In a lot of cases, they have lived with the pain of the status quo for so long that they don’t recognize how big of a pain point it really is. If it’s a shark bite and they think it’s a mosquito bite, you need to work to help them recognize that.

For the prospect to purchase, they have to believe that the pain of the status quo is greater than the pain of change. The more you can help them feel the pain of the status quo, the bigger the push for Emotional ROI.

Tactic 3: Minimize Risks to Peer Reputation

A buyer wants to know how what you are selling will increase their reputation with their peers. We don’t recommend that you address this concern overtly, at least not in your first conversation. Marketing materials can be useful here because they can make claims that border on outrageous if spoken in person. “Be the hero . . .” or “You’ll be a rock star . . .” are messages you’ll see from time to time, addressing this particular emotional risk.

One of the best ways to minimize risk to a buyer’s peer reputation is to provide social proof by way of peer reviews on sites like G2 Crowd or Capterra, as well as great customer references. And don’t just provide general references. Provide peer-driven references that are relevant to each of the roles in the buying group. For example, if you’re selling a solution to marketing, but the CTO is concerned about security, give the CTO the names of a few other CTOs at client companies. Hearing another CTO say that your software passed his company’s security review with flying colors will go a long way toward a new buyer believing that they will also have a successful implementation.

If a CTO, CMO, and head of sales are in the buying group, provide them with peer references from customers who are in similar roles.

Tactic 4: Enhance Upward Mobility

Understand your prospects’ immediate goals. What are they trying to achieve this month? Quarter? Year? If you can demonstrate that your solution gets them to their goals faster or better, they’ll believe it will help them be more upwardly mobile in their careers.

This is where the financial or productivity ROI becomes emotional. If prospects believe you can deliver the key business metrics that determine their performance, they will consciously (and subconsciously) associate your solution with upward mobility.

Make sure to get the buyer’s manager or boss involved too. They are likely going to get involved behind the scenes either way, so proactively involving them up front increases your chances of helping them commit to the purchasing decision. This ultimately increases the upward mobility opportunity for your prospect.

I wrote an entire book on the subject. Become a master of buyer enablement and you will shorten your sales cycle and close more deals at the same time.

Consensus is Intelligent Demo Automation that scales your presales function.