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You are currently browsing the The WhiteBoard blog archives for January, 2014.

When the Status Quo is Your Biggest Competitor

January 16th, 2014

Whether your company is the market leader or a new entrant, sometimes your biggest competition isn’t the 800-pound gorilla or the new kid on the block. It’s a prospect’s decision to do nothing – to maintain the status quo.

Signs of the status quo can surface at any time in the sales process. In the initial stages of engaging a prospect, the status quo is often expressed as “Thanks, we’re all set.” Those repeated requests for more information, long after you thought the prospect was purchase-ready?  Your foe, the status quo again.

The reason that the status quo is such a fierce competitor is the same reason that change management is so challenging for both individuals and organizations. It’s fear of the unknown. Your product or service represents change. And people don’t have an emotional connection to change in the same way that they have an emotional connection to what they know.

“We’re all set” can mean “I know what I have, even if I don’t always like it or it doesn’t work the way I wish it would.”  Repeated requests for more information can mean, “I’m not the (only) decision maker and I don’t know what will happen if I risk addressing this with the decision maker.”

When the status quo is your competitor, it’s up to you to think like a change manager and replace fear with trust. Here are a few questions to challenge the status quo.

Replacement, complement, option or upgrade?

When a prospect says “we’re all set,” it’s an opportunity to manage change by adding to the status quo. Think beyond replacing what is currently in play. Consider positioning your product or service as a complement to the status quo, an option for contingencies and overcapacity or an enhancement for a specific functional area or department.   

What’s in it for your prospect?

If you are running into repeated requests for information or justification for your product or service, it’s often a sign that the resistance is emotional and personal, not factual. The logical, dollarized benefits of using your product or service may be clear, but chances are your prospect isn’t clear on the impact your product or service will have on him or her personally. Explore the positive outcomes that your product or service can have on your prospect’s role, job satisfaction and relationships with peers, employees and boss. 

Why don’t we do it together?

A version of this question can be one of the most effective ways to dislodge the status quo. When your prospect repeatedly drops the ball on a task required to take the next step toward a purchase decision, asking this question will build trust or reveal an underlying objection to moving forward – or both.

You can’t reason a prospect out of resistance to changing the status quo. You can think like a change manager by building trust and creating an emotional connection to the positive outcomes of change.

You Made My Day: Enhancing Business Relationships in 2014

January 2nd, 2014

“Go ahead, make my day.”

 More threat than invitation, Clint Eastwood’s line is the ultimate relationship dare. Making Inspector Harry Callahan’s day in the film “Sudden Impact” was a challenge that included a robbery and shoot-out in a diner where the waitress put too much sugar in Harry’s coffee. 

 My role model for early rising, Benjamin Franklin, approached the idea of making someone’s day a bit differently than Dirty Harry. In the margins of his daily calendar, Franklin wrote the question he pondered throughout each 24-hour cycle: “What good shall I do this day?”

 Most of us don’t get up in the morning thinking about how we can make someone’s day as Dirty Harry did. Most of us also don’t wake up thinking that we have the ability to make someone’s day better, easier or more pleasant. Making someone’s day is one of our greatest opportunities to connect with friends, colleagues, clients and prospects. It’s also the opportunity we most frequently miss.

 A few years ago on January 1, I committed to making at least one person’s day every day. Finding prospects for this activity wasn’t hard; I only had to look as far as my inbox and voicemail.

When I receive a message that compliments or thanks me, I respond to tell the sender that he/she has made my day. It never ceases to surprise me that telling people that they have made my day almost always makes their day, too. When someone does something beneficial for me, or I recognize someone’s influence on a project or activity that is going well for me, I send them a note or email, or call them to thank them for their specific impact on my success. Sending an unexpected email early in the morning is especially appreciated, since it can impact the recipient’s outlook for the whole day. 

The opportunities are endless and surface everywhere. Call a customer service help line and reach a rep who has great communication skills? Meet with a client and interact with an administrative assistant who is especially gracious and efficient? Tell them. 

Both Harry Callahan and Benjamin Franklin were right: our relationships are heightened when we dare to make a conscious impact on other people’s experience. If you dared yourself to make someone’s day every day, what kind of impact would it have on your business in 2014?  That’s a question worth pondering every morning.

So go ahead – make someone’s day.