November 19, 2010

How to Convince Prospects to Switch

By Selling Power Editors

One of the most difficult skills to master in life is helping people make changes that will benefit them in the long run – even if it means annoyance or sacrifice in the short term. That could mean anything from getting a child to clean his or her room to convincing a customer to switch from a competitor’s brand to yours.

In sales, you can’t force anyone to buy from you – nor should you, says Brett Clay, author of Selling Change: 101 Secrets for Growing Sales by Leading Change. Although you can clearly see the upside of change, you must always remember that others may not share your perspective.

“People have an extreme dislike for pushy salespeople,” Clay writes. “If people feel they are being pushed or forced, their emotions will take over, and they will resist buying, even if it hurts them not to.”

That’s why the best salespeople see themselves as trusted service providers and advisors, not product pushers. They understand that change isn’t easy, and that’s what makes them effective in creating strong relationships with customers.

In Selling Change, Clay argues that all change leaders should ask and consider the answers to the following questions:

  1. What does the customer want to change?
  2. Why does the customer want to change?
  3. What does the customer really want? What is the customer’s ultimate goal?
  4. What is preventing the customer from changing? Why has he or she not already changed?
  5. What motivates the customer? What makes the customer tick?
  6. What is involved in making the change? What will it take?
  7. How will the customer behave before, during, and after the change?

As an exercise, Clay encourages looking around the next time you’re in an airport or restaurant. Identify five people, and ask yourself some of the questions above. See what answers you can come up with: Why is this person here? Where does that person want to go in life? What is the biggest change he or she will make this month?

To quote Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” How many times a day do other people ask you to do something without going to the trouble of outlining how you’ll benefit from taking on the task? People need to feel ownership over change, even if the idea doesn’t come from them. Before you ask someone to take a step in a new direction, be sure to communicate your vision of a new and great experience.