The Truth About Breaking and Building Mental Models

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bigstock-Business-people-using-digital--37244521To build B2B buying consensus, you don’t need to continually refine how customers perceive you. What customers need is a significantly more refined view of how they perceive themselves.

In order to know how you can truly help a potential customer, you need to first understand what they believe in the first place. Their paradigm is called a mental model.

As a salesperson (or buying coach), your goal is to shift customers from their current behavior and towards a new, desired behavior. The biggest challenge is getting customers to reconsider their current thinking in the first place. This is a two-step process.

  • First, get a champion (Mobilizer) to reconsider their individual thinking.
  • Then, get the entire buying group to reconsider their collective thinking.

If you want to change someone’s behavior, you first have to change his Mental Model. It’s the “frame” in the “frame breaking” that creates a true commercial insight. The only way to change how a customer acts is to first change the way that that customer thinks.

You can help create a new mental model for a customer by connecting your (unique, valuable, defensible, and sustainable) differentiators to the customer’s desired business outcome.

Building a new mental model requires that you:

  1. Identify the customer’s ultimate desired goal or outcome for their business.
  2. Uncover the primary drivers that contribute to the customer’s outcome.
  3. Determine the driver that best leads to your unique, valuable, defensible, and sustainable differentiator—your unique capability.
  4. Map out the logic behind the customer’s current mental model.
  5. Create a new mental model that connects a significant customer problem with your unique solution.
  6. Design a prototype of the new mental model, and ask some of your best sales reps what they’d add.
  7. Test how significant the “burden of proof” is, and how much evidence you’ll need to satisfy it.
  8. Test your mental model with customers and refine it iteratively.

We’ve summarized these principles and other key insights of The Challenger Customer in a helpful PDF.

But, for a complete understanding of how to build new mental models in your own process and with your own potential customers, we recommend reading the full The Challenger Customer book.

About the Author

Garin Hess

Garin Hess

Garin Hess is a serial entrepreneur with over 18 years of hands-on in-the-trenches experience. Garin has founded two software companies, two industry conferences, and a non-profit organization. He is currently the founder and CEO of CONSENSUS, an interactive demo automation software company that helps sales organization scale the pre-sales function. Outside of work, he enjoys reading history, mountain biking, singing with and conducting community choirs, and spending time with his family. For Garin, nothing else beats a lazy morning cooking breakfast for his wife and three kids or trying hard to keep up with his son on the tennis court.