To say that B2B solution sales is an unpredictable profession is a gross understatement. Deals are constantly stalled or derailed by a seemingly endless variety of reasons.
- “Our decision maker is away.”
- “Our priorities have shifted.”
- “We don’t have the budget.”
- “We want to hold off for a while.”
- “I like what I see. I get it! The timing's perfect... but I’m scared that I don’t have the chops to execute on it because, even though what I’m doing now is not working, it will mean I have to change!”
Wait a moment! What was that? Someone being honest about their true fears? Nah! Can’t be.
This last one is one of the most common and hardest objections to overcome. It’s called the Status Quo Bias and it describes the state wherein people prefer to stay in their comfort zone rather than step into the unknown. Everyone can relate, but as sales professionals it’s vital that you recognize it and do what you can to mitigate it.
You will encounter the Status Quo Bias objection from multiple stakeholders in your prospects company, but when it comes to solution sales, there is one department that tends to be more challenging than others, IT.
Naturally there are many excellent IT professionals who have the best interest of their company at heart and are thus open to new ideas and approaches to solving issues, however, that is not always the case.
Quite often IT professionals can be extremely resistant to change due to a number of reasons, some of them unflattering (I realize this can be said of any profession):
- A new solution to them means more work when they are already overloaded.
- A new learning curve.
- Worst of all, change means they run the risk of being exposed as not knowing as much as they would have their organization believe.
The underlying point here is that IT rarely have the power to say “Yes” but definitely have the power to say ‘No.” Even if they give their recommendation, you still have to get into the other elements of the sales cycle in order to close it, such as price and terms.
This is a massive problem. Those “C” level guys who will sign your contract lean on their IT to make those ‘technology’ decisions for them, quite often because they don’t understand technology themselves. This leaves a lot of potential for poor advice. So how do you mitigate this, as there is no silver bullet I’m afraid?
Always start at the top. Establish your value proposition to the “C” level suite first. They will inevitably push you down to IT, at which point try this messaging “I can appreciate that you need your IT guys seal of approval, but in our experience we find that it is common for IT to view our solution through the lens of what they are used to. The fact that our solution may not work in exactly the same way as what they are using now should not mean that the way we accomplish the same end result is bad. Can I ask that when you task them, that you establish that you are looking for new ways that you can do things differently in order to stand out from the competition?” This kind of positioning both helps you address the issues that IT will come up with, and establish common ground with the decision maker on what the end result should be.
You’ve heard the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” That’s Status Quo Bias right there, so recognize it and hit it head on to improve your chances of closing those opportunities.