Have you ever had a prospective client who convinced you through their words and their actions that they were ready to move forward with you and your solution, only to later disengage completely from the you and the opportunity?

Have you ever struggled to understand why your dream client agrees that they need to make changes, and the closer they get to the end of the sales cycles, the further away they are from agreeing to move forward?

There is a reason that this occurs.

Your dream client is pulled in two directions by two deep fundamental human needs. You have to help balance these needs.


To make the improvements that your dream clients need to make, they have to change. They have to make improvements, and they have to grow. The status quo may be as warm and comfortable as an old coat, but the status quo isn’t a path to growth and improvement.

Your dream clients and clients know that they need to grow. They know that they need to change. And they know that they will need to forego the status quo. When you show them what is possible, it’s easy for them to be excited by a vision of the future. Because they find the future compelling, they agree to commitments that move both of you down that path together, you moving through your sales process, your client moving through their buying process.

Growth is a human need. It’s also one of business’s fundamental needs.

But then, as you move closer, another deep human need surfaces. This human need slows things down and puts the brakes on the commitments.

Certainty and Risk Avoidance

As you move closer to a commitment that would mean the client is required to act, the human needs for certainty and risk avoidance start to take precedence over other needs. You might be surprised when certainty and risk avoidance appear late in the game because they weren’t visible earlier in the process, but you would be wrong. These needs were there the whole time, but they were latent, hidden behind the excitement and enthusiasm of the better future results.

The need for certainty and risk avoidance are no less important than the need for growth. The stakeholders within your dream client’s company need growth, and they need certainty and risk avoidance. It’s your job to give them both.

A Balancing Act

In my experience, it’s the mark of a professional to bring risk into the discussion early in the process. The sooner it is brought up, the sooner you can effectively deal with it together with your dream client.

When you wait to address the uncertainty and risk, your dream client gets there themselves—and alone. Avoiding the issues of certainty and risk can cause a serious problem.

It can lead your clients to believe that you are unaware of the risks or that you are aware and don’t want to address them. This exacerbates the uncertainty and the perception of risk. Instead of a reasoned discussion of the risks kept in context and a discussion of how the risks might be mitigated, your avoidance makes it worse.

It’s easy to believe that if you bring up anything negative that you will you ruin your opportunity. But because both of these needs are important, you put your deal at greater risk by not addressing the uncertainty and risk that accompany significant change.

Professional salespeople don’t avoid the tough discussions. Instead, they have discussions about risk and they take the actions to mitigate those risks. This is what prevents your dream client from getting cold feet down the stretch.


Why does your dream client need growth?

Why do they also need certainty and risk avoidance?

What are the risks of addressing only growth and avoiding dealing with risk?

How do sales professionals help their clients address the risk and uncertainty in a healthy way that allows them to move forward with growth?

Sales 2012
Post by Anthony Iannarino on January 28, 2012
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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