You want your dream client to see the world in a new way. You want them to see and understand the truth, the reality of their situation. You want them to see the possibilities.
I love this scene in The Matrix. The character Morpheus offers Neo a choice of two pills. By taking the red pill, his eyes will be opened to the ugly truth of his situation, a truth he will be unable to avoid. By taking the blue pill, he wakes up with the world exactly as he knows it, continuing his life without having to change his beliefs or his actions.
In sales, we make the same offer to our dream clients.
Once your dream client decides to confront the truth of their situation, once they take the red pill, as business managers, they are obligated to make improvements. They are obligated to change what they believe and what they are doing.
This is why your dream clients sometime avoid meeting with you to discuss their problems, their challenges, and their opportunities. This is why, even when you have a solution that will generate better outcomes and results, your dream client resists you and your offering. They know what the red pill means.
Taking the red pill obligates them to undertake a change effort and change efforts come with their own pain. The pain caused by change efforts is the pain of stepping into the unknown. It is the pain of the disruption to their business, the pain of playing politics, and the pain of paying the price of having your idea questioned as it teeters between success and failure.
Your dream client has had their problems and challenges since long before you arrived, and they are comfortable in their pain. You are asking them to trade the pain that they know for the potential pain they don’t know.
Ignorance Is Bliss
Another character in The Matrix is also confronting a change effort. In this scene Cypher decides to take the blue pill and return to life as he knew it before his eyes were opened to the Matrix. Even though he knows the truth of his situation, Cypher simply wants to retreat into the comfort of what he knows.
There are times when your dream client will be happier being ignorant of the possibilities. By remaining unaware, they are under no obligation to trade the pain they know for the pain they don’t know.
The Red Pill
To get your clients to take the red pill, you have to help them to confront the truth of their situation. You have to help them to see a vision of a better future. You have to acknowledge that this change will come with pain, but that on the other side of that pain, they are going to be in a better place. You have to help them with politics, and they have to trust that you are going to be there to ensure that they receive the outcome that you have promised and you have sold.
Ultimately, the red pill is taken in a swallow. But a lot of work has to go into to making sure that your dream client is ready to take swallow red pill—and that you are ready to offer it to them.
Change efforts come with their own pain. When the pain of the change effort outweighs the pain your dream client is experiencing, they are likely to keep the pain they know.
- Do you (or your offering) force your dream client to confront a truth that they are not yet ready to face?
- Is your promise of improved performance so great that they are forced to imagine a disruption to their business and the political costs to them and their career?
- How do you resolve the concerns that your dream client has about your proposed change effort while still acknowledging the challenges that exist in implementing your solution?
- How do you help your dream client to see that there really is no blue pill and that they no longer have the choice but to change?
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