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How we subconsciously drive prospects from "I want it" to "It can wait"

· transparency sale,decision science,behavioral science

For as much as my kids wanted ice cream last week, not even they wanted to wait in the long line that greeted us when we got there.

“Can we just go home?” my 9-year-old daughter asked. My 8-year-old son quickly agreed. We were happy to oblige, seeing how many people on the other side of the building were in a holding area waiting for their orders.

Five minutes earlier, they were sooo excited about a trip to Culvers. (And I know...it's frozen yogurt, not ice cream. 😁)

Either way, it still would have tasted the same - long line or short line.

But we all opted out. We all opted for our status quo.

We've all done this.

We can't find something we're looking for, can't find anyone to ask, and just leave the store without it.

We arrive at a restaurant without a reservation, and see people waiting outside.

We wanted something, we started the process of acquiring that something, and we opted out.

We opted for the status quo.

In the business-to-business world, our prospects do this every day. They get excited about a solution. In some cases they even filled out OUR LEAD FORM, so they must be excited, right?

We engage, and the next thing you know, they disappear from our pipelines, opting for the status quo or the inferior competitor.

"The prospect suddenly decided to push off this purchase. I don't get it. They were so excited!"

It's entirely possible that it's not them...it's you! It's your organization. It's your processes and approach.

The reward doesn’t look as sweet when the journey to get there doesn’t match our expectations.

When making a decision, our brains subconsciously stack the deck towards the easier path.

How do we, as salespeople and selling organizations, ruin the prospect's excitement for our ice cream? How are we stacking the deck against us?

It starts with friction in the journey we take our prospects and buyers through:

Extra steps:

When a prospect engages, there's a level of excitement and curiosity to comes with it. With each engagement with you that doesn't follow a logical path and doesn't match expectations, that excitement and curiosity wanes.

For example, imagine filling out a lead form on a website for something you're interested in.

- Someone reaches out, and schedules a call.

- That call takes place, but it's only a qualification call. At the end of that call, they set up a time for you to speak to an "account executive"

- That account executive now does a discovery. At the end of that call, you still haven't learned anything. That's for the next call - the presentation / demo.

- The presentation / demo call is generic, and doesn't use the previous information gathering steps to speak to me.

When would you have opted out?

Witness-stand qualification:

Within those extra steps, often I see posts and suggestions that prospects need to "earn the right" to learning anything, or seeing a demo. They need to check all the boxes because otherwise it's wasting the salesperson's time. In the process, they're missing expectations by wasting the prospect's time. There's a balance.

FBI level discovery:

In addition to the above, discovery questions that feel as though they'll be used against me at a later time.

Generic presentations & demonstrations:

...where I have to do the work to figure out how this will fit my needs, fit in my environment, help me achieve my desired outcomes. I need your help, and don't get it.

We're perfect and everyone else sucks:

Presenting yourself as perfect. Our brains know better, consciously & subconsciously, which is why reviews work when a website is the salesperson (i.e., Amazon), and why negative reviews actually help a buyer on their journey.

Keep in mind, people are willing to wait in line - when they expect to. There are restaurants where the waiting list for a reservation is months long. I remember, as a teenager, waiting in lines a Great America to ride a roller coaster for 45 minutes.

So, how do you keep the prospect excited and in your "line"?

1) Set proper expectations up front:

It starts with transparency. Transparency sells better than perfection for a reason.

Illuminate the path.

Point out the potential bumps and risks.

Lead with them.

Once engaged, create a map with the prospect...a mutual decision plan.

These elements above maximize every KPI that matters - speeding sales cycles, increasing your win rates, better qualifying prospects "in" that you should win and qualifying prospects "out" that you'll probably lose anyway...only faster, meaning you're now spending your time more effectively and efficiently.

2) Evaluate your processes:

Clear the journey of unnecessary bumps, turns and time wasters! Do you really need all of these steps? Who are those steps helping? You - or the prospect?

Picture the journey a prospect takes in engaging, evaluating and buying from you. Experience it if possible. What elements feel like the unexpected long line, the additional homework, the "I can't find it"?

Which of those elements can you fix? Which can you improve? Which just have to be that way - which you can share early with the prospect to properly set expectations?

Your prospects will take the journey with you - when the ice cream is worth the expected effort of the scoop!

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