Selling change – Part Two

Understanding the process of change – Upsetting the Homeostasis

In yesterday’s Post on this topic we left the reader with a ‘flow chart’ of the process of change within a business and, slightly tongue-in-cheek, how that compared with change at a personal level.

What is the role of the salesperson in facilitating this process?

Well, firstly the salesperson should have established that the potential client ought to have a need for the solution.  (That, at least, ups the odds of an effective use of sales time.)  Whether that is from knowledge about the company or its business, a referral from somewhere else, or a solid sales reference from another customer, i.e. another of the salesperson’s customers is a good example of using the solution.

Secondly, the salesperson must understand sufficient about his proposed solution that he can educate the customer, the objective being to create the thought that the present arrangements can be improved.  In other words, to start creating needs [for the solution on offer].

Lastly, the salesperson has to create dissatisfaction so that the client sees strong needs to change.

Why the underlining? Well, nobody buys anything without believing, perhaps transiently, that they have a need for it.

The process of creating, first, dissatisfaction and then, second, needs is one of the most widely misunderstood areas in selling.  IBM had a wonderful phrase for it (in 1970), “Upsetting the Homoeostasis”.  Despite the fact that the word ‘homoeostasis’ does not appear to be used outside a medical setting, the phrase is excellent and most apt for the sales process.

In medicine the word ‘homoeostasis’ means “the ability or tendency of an organism or cell to maintain internal equilibrium”.  Thus in a sales context, we can define Upsetting the Homeostasis as:

Creating dissatisfaction with present procedures.

The word ‘procedures’ is used because, in the main, businesses sold to in the last (nearly) 40 years operated within a framework of regularised procedures, the corporate equivalent of human habitual behaviours.  So this approach has old salesmanstood the test of time, in my opinion.

Now there’s another insight into human behaviour that the professional salesperson uses and that is this.  Nobody changes our mind.  We change our own minds, by answering our own questions.

Of course, there is an exception to that theory, “Man with good argument less effective than, man with good argument, with gun!”

So, if we are to change our mind by answering our own questions, we must be given the ‘space’ to do this.  For the salesperson that means asking insightful questions and then shutting up! The secret to the change process is excellent listening.  (Questioning and Listening skills are so important that these will be future essays devoted to these two topics.)

A really good professional salesperson will, in the phase of developing needs, be listening for at least two-thirds of the time.  Think of this phase as operating as a journalist – it’s what the other person is saying that is really important.

Why?  Because out of the words of your prospect will come insight into that prospect’s concerns, worries, future hopes and, wait for it, needs!

Part three continued tomorrow.  As always, your feedback is important.

By Paul Handover

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