In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.     – Yogi Berra

Pull up your pipeline report. Pick a live opportunity. It doesn’t matter which opportunity it is, just pick one. Now, tell me why your prospective client is absolutely going to buy whatever it is you sell. Why are they going to spend their money to make this purchase? More still, why are they going to all the trouble to overthrow the status quo and change?

I’ve sat through countless pipeline and opportunity reviews where the following facts were true:

  • The client spent money on what the salesperson was selling.
  • The client had the money to buy what the salesperson was selling.
  • The client would have benefited by purchasing what the salesperson was selling.
  • The client wanted what the salesperson was selling, and was complimentary about the product or service, describing it as superior to the status quo.

Some of these “opportunities” had more seniority within the sales organization than some of the senior sales leaders. They’d been around longer, anyway.

People don’t change without a reason. They change because there is a gap between the status quo and some future desired state. If they aren’t dissatisfied about that gap, they aren’t going to buy. This is why so many pipelines are full of what are truly leads, why salespeople and sales managers believe many deals are stalled, and why so many buyers stick with the status quo.

Some people have complained about my shorthand use of the word “dissatisfaction.” They don’t like it, and they don’t like the word “pain,” either. They believe that people are motivated to both avoid pain and to seek pleasure. And they’re right; there’s no doubt that we are pain avoiding, pleasure-seeking creatures. Tony Robbins says that people change because of inspiration or desperation, and mostly desperation. But even inspiration is recognition that you are capable of producing better results. You’re pleased, but not satisfied.

Should you focus on pain avoidance alone? Of course, you shouldn’t. In fact, the solution you build with your client is the story of a better future state, whether they are desperate to produce it or whether they are inspired to. That story provides the “towards pleasure” part of the equation.

But if there is no dissatisfaction, what are you moving away from as you work your way toward pleasure?


Did you choose an opportunity? Did you quickly identify your prospect’s buying motivation?

Does your value proposition speak to that dissatisfaction?

Is your value proposition compelling?

Why do some opportunities stall? Are they really opportunities?

Sales 2013
Post by Anthony Iannarino on January 21, 2013
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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