Do Not Be the Blind Leading the Blind
The reality is a lot of customers are way over their head and have no idea of the time, inconvenience, energy and resources necessary to consider changing. The job of the neutral change-agent is to bring light to this reality when necessary, and help them avoid half-baked ideas that were non-starters from the very outset. No one wins when both parties are hiding from the truth.
A lot of customer's eyes are bigger than their desire to change. Or, their eyes are bigger than their wallets. Or, their eyes are bigger for other projects than yours. Your job is to bring their orbit into reality and help them rectify their overindulgence. You do this by making the complex plain and simple. You do not do this through masterful selling and convincing. Leave that to the amateurs. Strategic selling is like being a sculptor. You subtract instead of adding.
You risk being a depreciable asset when your insight and input is not needed or valued. If the customer does not value your insight then you have very little to offer other than price. When this happens your status goes from being a change-agent to a product peddler.
"We see things not as they are, but as we are," said the philosopher Kant. The change-agent knows that it is the customer's perception that rules the day regarding change. They do not get emotionally involved, because they know if they do they risk losing all objectivity, and looking like a typical product pusher. Remember, customers do not hate to change nearly as much as they hate being changed.
The change agent is all about expecting the unexpected. Conventional sales people are strong believers of never looking a gift horse in the mouth. Their strategy is if they look like a prospect, sound like a prospect, act like a prospect, then they are worthy of selling. Wrong strategy! Those qualifications are just a starting point for more serious questions.
"Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it," said Dwight D Eisenhower. The job of the change-agent is to help the customer realize if they really have a sound reason to change. It is a pull process instead of the traditional push, sales process. Your job is to help customers through the process of peeling away all the hurdles that will be necessary for them to explore the practicality of changing, buying or taking different action.
Once this has happened the two most beautiful things a customer can say to you is we are interested to take this one step further, or we are not interested go away. This is the cornerstone of reality-based selling and the change-agent.
Most traditional sales people would rather master the art of selling versus mastering the art of understanding their customer's problems, objectives and priorities. Master the mind of the customer and you will indirectly master the art of selling. Or better yet, you will not need to master the art of selling, because the customer will do most of it for you.
If your customer really believed they had a problem they would have done something proactively about it. This is the major challenge for change-agents. You have to take them back to their problems so they can reexperience them, assess them and determine what are the incentives/disincentives for change from their unique, personal perspective.
90% of all sales are won and lost in the non-presentation part of the sales call, not the presentation part. In sales the proof is not in the pudding (solution), it is in all of the steps (probing and exploration) that lead up to it. The change-agent provides the context for customers to make better decisions through their cause-effect-action analysis. Without this sales strategy you are at risk of being the "blind leading the blind."