If we’re speaking frankly, there’s a lot of bullshit out there (sorry, had to say it) about customer behavior and the buying cycle. People assign it to a host of factors that have absolutely nothing to do with it, especially in B2B cycles. In fact, we often think selling is about building up — relationships, experiences, products, etc. At the most basic level, that’s actually wrong. Selling is about loss and destruction.
Loss and destruction? Huh?
Yes. There are two situations in any sale:
- Situation A: The customer does nothing, so basically stays with their current option
- Situation B: The customer buys from you
The only way to get to Situation B — better for you — is to destroy Situation A and facilitate the change to Situation B. The customer needs to lose the status quo. Much of this is discussed in Challenger Customer.
So why is this hard?
It’s hard for a lot of reasons. First, there’s loss aversion. People (your prospects) are usually much more scared of losing than of getting something positive (winning). So even if your prospect knows that your solution is their best option, they may stick with Situation A — the status quo — just because of this loss aversion idea. Many prospects could love your offer, but need to be able to see a 200-percent ROI to even consider it.
There’s also “latitude of acceptance.” Here’s the visual:
This example above is “eating at Burger King” (somewhat dumb), but it works in sales too. Any time you are messaging/selling, there are a few “degrees” that the prospect can be walked. Some prospects have narrower latitudes, meaning they believe certain things about their business and won’t budge from that; these people can be hard to smash the status quo. Other people are willing to listen to many ideas/options and be receptive to them; that’s a wider latitude of acceptance. These people are, usually, easier to sell to.
How do you move from Situation A to Situation B, then?
That’s how you sell. You enable the change. You facilitate the change. You destroy the status quo. The prospect absolutely has to believe that Situation A is hurting them, and Situation B is essential. When you enable that change, you sell — and you sell a lot. Everyone has different approaches to enabling this change, but here’s the most important thing.
As was also discussed in The Challenger Customer, most sales guys try this route:
- Discuss how great Situation B is
- Extol the virtues of Situation B
- Show the ROI of Situation B
- Explain how Situation B is absolutely the greatest thing in human history
But because of those issues above, sometimes Situation B is looking amazing — often too amazing — and the prospect still does nothing. The change seems too radical. They stay with their current solution.
Research has consistently shown that the more effective approach is actually to destroy Situation A. A concept like fear of missing out (FOMO) is huge; it drives a lot of why social media is popular, for example. (And why social media depresses people.) The prospect has to believe that their current state (Situation A) just isn’t getting it done, and they’re totally 100 percent missing out by not using Situation B. You have to destroy any remnants of Situation A being appealing to them. That’s where you sell. You have to “lead to B” and not “lead with B”.