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One of your goals going into any sale is to deal with the potential of inaction.


Risk is a big factor in sales, and there are many ways to manage, mitigate and maneuver risk. One can argue the biggest risk for both buyers and sellers is unforeseen risk, by any involved in the journey. But there is a big difference between unforeseen risk, and ignored risk. If you are breaking down the game tape after each meeting or sale, you should be in a position to continuously identify and/or anticipate likely or common risks that come up.

As we have highlighted when discussing prospecting objections, while we can predict the five or six most common objections, there will be instances where there is a new objection. The second time you hear in short succession, the confirmation that it is an objection, a “risk” in the prospecting sense; as professionals, it is up to us to be ready to deal with it in a way that preserve and advances the opportunity. The same with risk, the more you review and prepare, the less likely that you will have unforeseen risk.

But there is a risk that is right in our face, yet many choose to it, and that is the risk of inaction. For the most part, we are talking about inaction by the buyer, but if you are a manager, you know that at times, it is rep inaction that brings risk; although I must say, the latter one is much easier to resolve.

Sellers know that the Status Quo has a lot of allure and comfort for buyers. We have been told again and again, that client complacency, the Status Quo, is our biggest competitor, no argument, and we have been trained in so many ways to get the prospect to see us, our product, the concept of a change, in a less risky light. But there is no getting away from the fact that unless the missile is headed right at the building, most people’s propensity is not to act, or act in as minimal a way possible, so as to not change or shake the Status Quo.

One of your goals going into any sale is to deal with the potential of inaction. Given we live in a “good enough” buying environment, and the fact that most products are indistinguishable from the competition, the buyer’s unwillingness to act is likely the biggest risk you face. If you can get them to move even in the slightest way in the right direction, you can build on that small momentum using all your usual methods. They say life’s a bitch, but I vote for inertia.

The only way to deal with it is head on, meaning you need to raise the subject in a way that a) does not scare them; b) gets them to put their fears out in the open. Remember there is more to it than your product.

There are internal processes, impact on other departments, personal and “corporate politics” risk, implementation, and the potential snipping from those whose project got passed over to implement yours, and more. If you can get them to surface and articulate, you can deal with it.

You can start the ball by putting an example out there, a solid one based on your review of previous similar sales:

“You know Martha, I was working with this company in Cleveland, and they had the following concern about __________________.”

See how they respond to that, if they ask for you to elaborate, it is a sign that they are acknowledging and willing to explore, this is your opportunity to open things up a bit more. If they don’t react, continue providing more detail, “as a result they stayed on the sidelines for a long time. It was only after  (this happened, they saw, customers left, reduced market share, etc.) , that they finally implemented the system, but ….”

If we do not remove inaction as an option, it is one of the most common risks in B2B sales. It is important to remember that dealing with the risk of inaction is part of the formula, you still need to understand their objectives, what you can add, and all the things that give you momentum during a sales cycle. But getting them in motion, to be open to the other elements of your sale, you need to move them, and eliminate the risk of inaction.

About the author

Tibor Shanto

Tibor Shanto

Tibor Shanto has over 20 years of sales experience from telemarketing to leading a…

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