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Anthony Iannarino is an international speaker, bestselling author, sales leader, and entrepreneur. He posts daily sales tips and insights to The Sales Blog.

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How To Sell Something New

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Some of the companies you call on want to be on the very bleeding edge of change. They will want first mover advantage, and their default position will be to explore what is new, discover whether they believe it will work for them, and then deploy what they believe will produce some competitive advantage.

They don’t want the “new” new thing because they chase fads. They want the “new” new things because they want to be the future. These companies aren’t afraid to fail; they’re afraid of missing an opportunity. They accept that some bets don’t pan out, and the few times they win is enough to make this approach pay off.

Right behind these companies are a larger group that will follow closely on the heels of the leading edge. They’ll adopt what’s new when they see it being used and when they confirm that the new thing produces results. The people in these companies want proof that something works, and they fear using their limited time, money, and resources for what might be nothing more than a shiny object.

They not super cautious, but they may not go first.

Many of the companies you call on will only adopt something after it becomes more widely accepted. Imagine a bunch of people sitting together, watching each other to see if anyone else is going to do something before they decide to it. They’re waiting to see that enough other people have adopted something before they adopt it. Sometimes this group wants to believe that they are brave pioneers by going before the rest of the big, middle part of the bell curve, even though they aren’t close to first.

A good many of the companies and people you call on are laggards. They aren’t going to adopt anything until they absolutely must. These companies are still using spreadsheets to manage their sales opportunities. The only way they’ll upgrade their software is if the company that makes it discontinues support and makes it obsolete. They will make do with what they have, and they have no problem falling far behind the market, risking their own survival. They are wholly uninterested in changing, and they won’t do so until they are forced to.

When what you sell is change, there are people and companies who will step willingly into the unknown, exploring new ideas confidently, always seeking what’s next. It’s their culture.

Other companies will be interested, but will need a lot more proof that the change you sell will actually produce the results you promise. They will need a little more time, a lot more information, and some proof before they move forward.

The last two categories, those who will adopt when something is already widely accepted and the group who only change when forced to, are not a good place to start with something new—even if it would benefit them greatly, and even if it would prevent existential threats.

If what you sell is transformational, you want to start with the people and companies who embrace that level of change.

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