All Decisions Involve Change Management: an insurance case study
Without buy-in, nothing changes. If the group or person deemed change necessary, it would have happened already. So whatever state the status quo is in is the preferred state: no matter what you think is wrong, or how your wonderful solution would make it better, it ain’t going to happen unless the status quo is willing to change. And change means change management is necessary.
As sellers, we forget that buyers must do some sort of change management before they’ll make a purchase. Their ‘problem’ is being resolved somehow and rules and relationships are holding the work-around in place. And these rules and relationships have to buy-in to shifting or they will resist change.
It’s frustrating when you just know your solution will help your prospect enormously. I hear from sales managers daily who bemoan the length of the sales cycle, and the inferior solutions prospects sometimes choose. But the solution is never the issue. Never, never, never.
INSURANCE USES AN OLD SALES MODEL THAT LOVES IT’S INEFFECTIVE STATUS QUO
Years ago – maybe 18 years – I taught Buying Facilitation™ to the CEO of a mid-sized, public insurance company specializing in corporate insurance – large policies for lots of people. He became very very successful using the model to help him open some very large accounts. He kept in touch with me occasionally over the years to fill me in on his success. Last year he called with a problem.
JOE: My folks are having even more trouble than usual. The economy sucks, and companies are canceling insurance. It’s getting harder and harder for us to get our appointments, and almost impossible to close. I’m losing good people to other job opportunities. Can you help?
SDM: Sure. You know my stuff. What has stopped you from training your folks before now?
JOE: We were doing well-enough – just above industry standard (Note: with Buying Facilitation™ the numbers are much, much higher, so obviously Joe wasn’t interested in closing a lot more business, OR his revenue concerns took a lower priority than something else in his system as we’ll see.). I guess I didn’t want to rock the boat. But now things are so bad that I must do something different.
SDM: If you were going to learn the model, there would be disruption and a few weeks of learning and integration. How would you and your decision team know that bringing in Buying Facilitation™ would be worth the risks?
JOE: I know your stuff is great and it works. I’d just have to convince them. But you’re right: we can’t tolerate too much change.
SDM: That’s a hard one. You say that what you’re doing isn’t working, but you don’t want change. How can we change without changing?
JOE: You like to use the phone to start prospecting. I know it works the way you teach it – get buy-in for my solution on my first call, and when I get there all of the decision makers are there and they are ready to sign. I did it myself. I saw the numbers. I saw the difference in the success rate, and how quickly buyers were buying. But I don’t know if I can sell it to my guys. They still call to get an appointment, and hate the phone. But now they are not getting the appointments, so I can see how using Buying Facilitation™ from the start of the call would work. Nothing else is working. And I’m dyin’ here. Not to mention losing some really good folks.
SDM: So I’m hearing that there may be resistance, but you think it would be necessary. What would you need to know about me working with your folks to know that it would be possible to get buy-in before we began, and pick up resistance along the way, to ensure you’d get the results you’d want?
JOE: I know you’d get us where we’d need to be. But I’d have to speak with a couple of my managers to find out what buy-in would have to look like. Let me call you back.
Joe never called me back. A month later I called him.
SDM: What happened? I never heard back.
JOE: The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much resistance I’d get, so I took no action. And I’m letting people go because of our situation. I’m going to have to keep the lights on until the economy turns around.
MAKES NO SENSE
This makes absolutely no sense. None. People were being let go or quitting, the revenue was horrid, no new sales were coming in (and in insurance, this has a long term consequence). But Joe was not willing to risk change. Willing to risk his business, but not change. And what was even more perplexing was that Joe knew my material and enjoyed working with me. He loved me, my solution, and knew it worked. But it went against the status quo. As I say repeatedly in my new book Dirty Little Secrets, the system is sacrosanct, and all else will be sacrificed if the system doesn’t know how to change without major disruption.
Think about this next time you think your solution is perfect for a prospect. And remember: the need would have been resolved already if they knew how to fix it. The problem is change. Help buyers manage change before you try to sell anything.
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