The change-agent tries to take a lot of the endless guesswork out of the decision process for their customer. Conventional sales people prioritize making the sale over reality. Reality rules for the change-agent. They know it is the driving force for change, or the decision not to change.
I deal with a lot of prospects that are overly optimistic in their intent to buy or change. They are ruled by their emotions with limited grounding in reality. It is their nature to be positive, indecisive and open to lots of impulses that will never materialize.
They are ironically like their sales counterparts where false hope springs eternal. Imagine how much time they personally waste chasing stupid buying ideas. Imagine how conventional sales people feed on their hope and provide the role of an enabler. You need to give these customers a strong dose of reality and bring them down to earth.
When you do not enable them to go blindly down the primrose path and you show them that their desire to change or buy from you is not realistic, you go from being an average sales person to being a customer champion who garners an enormous amount of credibility and trust. Do not let customers get too far ahead of themselves when they are caught up in the moment of making spontaneous spur of the moment decisions that will never realistically come to fruition. Mainstream sales people exploit these scenarios and ironically become exploited by their own design.
Sales people have to be like the followers of Confucius, honoring that which is fully evident. You need to "confront the brutal facts of reality," says Jim Collins. As a defense mechanism customers often sandbag sales people so you have to have a good "BS" meter. And you have to use this meter especially for what the British call double negatives; "we were not unhappy" or "we have not ruled it out."
Nothing has any inherent meaning without context. The decision to change is weighted heavily on outside factors. Traditional sales people avoid these factors like the plague, because if they learn the truth they will have to go back to square one and replace that prospect with another one. That is a fate worse than death. However, you have got to be open to tempting fate... for better or for worse.
Change-agents use qualitative and quantitative questions to help customers understand the cost of change. They cover all their bases by using hypothetical selling. They have their customers closely self-examine all their options, hurdles, payoffs and roadblocks. They do not rule out any contingencies, unlike their conventional counterparts who rule in everything and rarely get to reality. Everything is substantiated factually and more importantly emotionally; they need to change (fact), but is their heart (emotion) into going through the inconvenience of change. So much time is spent in self-exploration that there is little time to discuss superficial matters as one's offering. This is a strong testament to the trust the change-agent process creates. When the customer truly believes you are operating in their own best interest, they greatly relax their standard of the information they require of you.
When you are so solution-centric it is impossible to be absolutely present, alert and to detect the non-committed signals that customers so often broadcast. So often solution-centric sales people are so emotionally close to the prize of making the sale they cannot step back and see what is right in front of them staring directly at them.
The reality is very few orthodox sales people have the force of personality and authority to steal the show and create value for customers without their intense involvement. With just a few tools most sales people have the ability to create even more value by simply identifying where value is missing, defining the cost of the missing value and helping customers understand the value of changing or not. Value is rarely defined effectively because value is always in the eye of the beholder. It is hard to sell value to those who do not value it.
What customers want is mostly transparent and very tangible. Why they want it is very intangible and a real wildcard. This is where 90% of sales are won or lost. Sales are won and lost in the "why" not in the "what." This is where you earn your meddle as a strategic sales person.