Some people avoid change. They wait too long to decide to change and suffer the consequences or pretend to change without any meaningful difference in what they do day-to-day. For any number of reasons, be it apathy, complacency, negligence, or not wanting to deal with the work required of real change, they maintain the status quo for too long. To help them, you may need to find leverage points that help compel change.
When your dream client waits too long to make some necessary change, one of the risks is lost revenue.
I once spent three years trying to convince a client to change. They resisted my advice, believing things hadn’t changed. Then they won and lost four new clients within eight weeks because they failed to make the investment I advised them to make. The revenue they lost was not unsubstantial, but when you look at through the lens of lifetime value, it was enormous. Worse, it was unnecessary.
Lost revenue can be an effective lever when it is indeed a risk, and when you can meticulously explain why and how your dream client is going to lose it. That said, most of us learn the most important lessons the hard way.
A variation on financial leverage. Sometimes lost profit is more of a motivation to change than revenue, profit being something better than revenue in most cases (revenue is vanity, profit is sanity).
A company I know lost $7,000 per hour when their machinery was down. They struggled with the idea of investing in means that would provide an insurance policy, even though the investment was a fraction of what they lost. Instead, they just wanted the machines to keep running. Sadly, wanting things to be some other way than they are without changing is a recipe for suffering.
In the end, they invested. Protecting their profit was enough to compel change. What does it cost to maintain the status quo?
Market Share Risks:
Slow movers can lose market share. The taxi industry is giving up revenue to Uber and Lyft right now. Had there never been an Uber or a Lyft, that income would have belonged to taxis. If there had never been an Amazon.com, Brian and Jane would still be selling me books, but sadly, they closed up shop. Local bookstores are essential, and you should visit them as often as you can.
You will find people for whom market share is a metric worth protecting, worth investing in, and worth growing. In some cases, the client is involved in a “land grab,” a contest to capture more ground faster than their competitors can. Some senior leaders have shared with me their goals to exceed the market’s average growth rate, a way to ensure they are growing not only sales but also their share of the overall market. If the market increases by 4% in a given year, they want 12% growth.
Risks to market share provide powerful leverage when that metric is important to your dream client. What are the risks of losing ground?
Mistakes and missteps that cause stock prices to drop results in decline in the value of the enterprise. Some people are compensated on such metrics measure their success by the overall value of the enterprise. Even though measurements like shareholder value are now falling out of fashion, I am incredulous that these financial metrics will disappear. The value of the enterprise is one way to assess how a team is doing managing the enterprise.
Companies go to great lengths to sustain and improve their stock prices and the value of the enterprise. If something puts the value of the enterprise at risk, you have the leverage to compel that change. Larger, publicly-traded companies are full of people who care about these financial metrics.
Some people wish to avoid negative consequences and are compelled by positive improvements—or at least staying the same.
The person or people you are working with may be averse to losing their position, their status, or sometimes their employment.
This is not leverage easy to use unless your contact hands it to you themselves. It is mostly unspoken, but those who pay attention and read between the lines can perceive their concerns. If a person believes they’re going to personally lose their role, their position, or their status, their willingness to make change increases.
Be wary of using this leverage. It often comes with more risks than benefits. Instead, focus on how you can help your contacts succeed.
Because you are here, you probably work in sales. If this is true, you run into people and companies that are not executing because of something they need to change, know they need to change but have refused to change. Because they have been heretofore unwilling to change, they cannot execute effectively.
The implication of an execution risk might result in one or more of all of these risks. It could also result in lost clients, who, after patiently waiting for their partner to produce a result, gives up and moves on.
All of these are leverage points that compel change. They are also genuine threats to your clients and your dream client’s businesses. The leverage that comes from adverse outcomes and negative consequences is a heavy stick, and it isn’t something you should use to bludgeon people. Your sales bedside manner matters, and it pays to be a diplomat, one who can have a difficult conversation without causing the other person to feel the need to defend themselves.
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