Sales Force Productivity Declines when Control Shifts to Consensus

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 @ 08:08 AM


In a recent conversation I heard the phrase “socialize the idea”. The premise being that more frequently prospects are saying this is necessary.

For simplicity let call this consensus building. The question is why do prospects believe it's necessary? Obviously, it will depend on where they are in the decision making hierarchy, the more senior their role the less you’ll hear about the need to socialize.

The standard answer about why this must happen is it’s a necessary part of, sometimes mandated, the buying process. This sounds rational and it may be true, but what is the motive behind the motive? It’s usually because they are afraid of something.

Here are a couple possible motives. I suggest you make your own list.

  • This is new territory for them; they don’t have experience with it
  • They have a new manager or peer in their group
  • There are uncomfortable with risk
  • They don’t like making decisions
  • Confrontation (directness) is outside their comfort zone
  • They are under the microscope

In today’s business climate people want security and socializing an idea makes them feel safer. It also means that projects get delayed, change doesn’t happen and status quo rules. Start with this premise; opportunities usually disappear when prospects start the consensus building process.

To overcome the fear you need to do the following:

  • Remind them of the compelling reasons for action
  • Increase their understanding of what they gain from acting
  • Identify the specific fear or discomfort
  • Get them to vocalize this to you
  • Show them how their fear is the real problem

Have you noticed that prospects want to socialize your ideas more lately?

What are you doing to overcome this challenge?

Topics: Overcoming Obstacles, sales tips, improve sales performance, Under achievers

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