There are clients and prospects who seem to have an immunity to your insights. They cling to the belief that they know everything they need to know, that nothing you might share with them could prove to be of value to them, nor could it improve their results. Your experience counts for nothing, nor does data or facts that are validated by neutral parties. Resistance is part of insight selling. Here is how to respond when your dream client rejects your insight.
Recognize Their Fear and Constraints
The root causes of contacts resisting your insights, regardless of their validity, is more often some fear or some constraint than it is a pig-headed reluctance on their part, even though the latter is sometimes true.
In consultative sales, your insights might suggest that your prospective client should do something different. While your point of view and your recommendation might serve them, they make a business model that precludes them, making the change you would have them make. Your prospective client might have a weak competitive position in their market, making them unable to pass off any increase in costs to their clients or customers—even if it improved their quality.
The contacts you share your insights with might also believe that every insight you share points to the truth about their circumstances, as well as what they should be doing now. They may believe that what you would have them do would increase the price they pay for what you sell but lower their overall costs, making them more profitable. Some will fear that they will pay more only to incur the same costs they are already paying, and thus fear losing money in soft costs, the costs that are more difficult to capture.
From time to time, you will bump into people who cannot accept your insights because what you would have them do would be a financial disincentive for them personally. I once had a client whose assumptions about their costs were off by just over three-hundred percent. When confronted with the math, management disclosed that their bonus compensation was based on the costs they used internally, which prevented them from making a change that would have lowered their overall costs while taking money out of their paychecks.
Shaping Mindshare Takes Time
There are some people who will look at your insights, recognize the value to their business, and begin the process of exploring change. There are others who are more skeptical and who still need more time to change what they believe. Your plan to share your insight and make a change should not be built on the idea that seeing new information for the first time should cause an immediate decision to change.
One of the best beliefs you can have about any resistance from your contacts to your insights is that you haven’t effectively conveyed the information—even if this is not true. The value in believing you have failed is that it means you need to change your approach and try again, the key to persisting over time. My own experience is that you are just as likely to have to share information in different formats over a longer period as you are to have a single meeting that causes your dream client to change. The times your insights lead to change at first sight are balanced by the times it takes you three years to gain any real traction.
Don’t Give Up Your Argument
The fact that your contact or contacts refuse to believe your insights is no reason for you to give up your argument. If what you share is good, right, and true, there is no reason to give up trying to convince your contacts to absorb new information and make changes accordingly.
In part, whether others believe your insights depends on whether you believe what you are sharing. If you give up quickly, you project that you expected to convince your client or prospective client to change their mind in a single meeting. When that doesn’t happen, giving up and going away makes it look like what you were sharing was tactical, and when it failed, you quit.
Persisting over time is proof that you believe what you are saying is true, and it also gives your potential client time to process ideas that are in conflict with what they believe, how they run their business, and what they believe makes them successful. Success in B2B sales is often the result of your persistence.
Develop a More Open Contact
When you run headlong into a dead end, try another path. Because one contact or group of stakeholders doesn’t believe or isn’t willing to take action on the ideas you have shared with them is no evidence that there are not others in the same company who will be compelled by your theory and your point of view.
In a day and age when consensus is necessary, it pays to acquire contacts throughout your dream client’s company. You will find senior leaders who stubbornly adhere to the idea that what they know is all they need to know. There will be people in positions that indicate they have little real authority who will see what you share as the explanation they have been looking for to understand why they struggle.
While it’s true that you fill find leaders who push change throughout the organization, you will also find that arming people in other roles gives them the ability to argue for change, providing the facts, data, and views that allow them to engage in an argument about what they need, why they need it, and how it will improve their results.
Some People Have to Be Hurt
Sadly, and not uncommonly, you will find some prospective clients who have to suffer failure before they are willing to take your advice, like the person who finds the will to change their beliefs about their health only after suffering a heart attack.
You are better off being patiently, professionally persistent instead of judgmental and overly provocative. You don’t want your prospective client to be embarrassed by the fact that they failed and search for help elsewhere. It can be difficult for people to take advice for some of the reasons stated in the first point here. Winning big deals eventually is better than losing them for a long period of time because you embarrassed or insulted them.
Your Sales Approach Matters
Insight selling is a modern sales approach, which is to say it is highly effective when done well, but not always easy to execute.
In B2B sales, when you are sharing your insights, you need to make sure you do so with the kind of bedside manner that increases the willingness to accept it. If what you share challenges the client for whatever reason, you need to deliver it in a way that lessens the challenge, if that means your client can better act on what you share.
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