Opportunities require dissatisfaction. Without it, there is nothing that compels your dream client to change. If there aren’t implications for staying the course, for the status quo, then your dream client isn’t going to be easily convinced that they need you or your proposed solution.
This is an extremely difficult issue for salespeople and for sales organizations.
Mostly, we are well equipped to discover and diagnose dissatisfaction. We are particularly competent when it comes to selling our solutions as a way to overcome our client’s dissatisfaction and the accompanying implications.
What we are not so good at is creating the necessary dissatisfaction.
Making It Hurt
Sometimes creating an opportunity requires that you first create dissatisfaction.
Before you go and accuse me of being self-oriented, uncaring, or not believing that relationships are more important than transactions, let me add some ideas to this statement.
Many of your clients believe that they are truly satisfied. They don’t know that they should be dissatisfied.
Some of your dream clients have gone through multiple providers and haven’t been able to achieve better results, regardless of the vendor, and so have come to accept that the status quo is all that is possible. They have lowered their expectations.
Some of your prospective clients no longer know what is possible or what they should expect from a partner. They haven’t taken the time to explore what is available, what has changed and, honestly, many are too busy with too many demands to spend any time researching ways to make an improvement.
Your role as a salesperson when your dream client is not dissatisfied is to help them to become dissatisfied. If they aren’t in any pain, then you have to help them to notice the pain that they don’t yet feel—but should. In some cases, you have to help them understand that they are on their way to their own hanging—they just don’t know it yet.
Give Them a Vision of What Is Possible
When your dream client isn’t dissatisfied, you have to show them the gap between their current state and a state that they don’t yet desire. This isn’t easy to do, and we want to go straight to the pitch to show our clients the many ways in which we could improve their results. But this isn’t the most effective way to give them a vision of what is possible. There are a couple ways to give your clients a vision of the future without going into pitchman mode.
The first and most effective way is to ask questions that help your dream client to discover the gap on their own. These questions might sound like this, “Have you fully integrated these two processes to take advantage of the reduced costs and higher profitability?” If they didn’t know that they could have integrated the process—or should have—you can create dissatisfaction where none existed.
The second way is to share information that demonstrates that the gap already exists. It is important not to be judgmental. You don’t want your dream client to have to defend their prior decisions or their current results. You can ask questions like, “We have found that some of our clients are producing results that used to be the benchmark for performance in this area. We have helped them to produce far greater results, and the new metric we are delivering for our client is now here. Would you be interested in exploring whether we might be able to help you produce similar results?” If the results being produced for their competitors are greater than they produce, the competitive threat may be enough to create dissatisfaction.
The third way is to show them what they don’t have. It’s wrong to prescribe before you diagnose, but sometimes you have to show your dream client what they are missing to create dissatisfaction. I have a client that has a killer technology application that far exceeds the industry standard. When they show their prospective clients what the technology will allow them to do, they are immediately dissatisfied with their current process. Sometimes you create dissatisfaction by showing your dream client what is possible and by demonstrating your capabilities.
Implications, Implications, Always Implications
New products, new services, or better solutions aren’t enough by themselves to create dissatisfaction. It’s the implications that matter. Why should they be dissatisfied? If they are happy with the status quo, you have to help your client to understand the risks.
Using the above examples, it might go like this: “By not changing and integrating these two processes, we have seen some companies fall behind in their ability to serve and retain their clients who have new expectations of them. Many have lost clients and market share.” Now they know why they should be dissatisfied and what should compel them to change.
Your dream client may not be dissatisfied with their financial performance, but the implications of not changing may change that: “It sounds like your financial results have been good. What concerns me is that your financial performance is going to be measured against your peer group’s performance, and it isn’t going to look as good as it might were you integrate these two process and realize the cost savings. Are your shareholders concerned about your costs compared to your competitor’s? The implications here are implied, but might be enough to create a compelling case for change.
Your role in sales is to help your clients produce better results than they now produce. This sometimes requires that you first create dissatisfaction that should—but doesn’t—already exist. If your dream client isn’t dissatisfied but should be, then you are required to help them to become dissatisfied so you can then help move them to a better place.
How many of your dream clients do you have trouble creating an opportunity with because they aren’t yet dissatisfied?
How many of your dream clients don’t know that they should be dissatisfied?
What prevents your dream clients from recognizing that they should be dissatisfied?
How do you help move a prospective client from satisfied to recognizing some need that they didn’t know existed?
What do you to do help build a compelling case for change?