Competing Against Status Quo: Basic Strategies to Address Inertia in the Buying Process

Many sales organizations today find that status quo bias is their biggest competitor. While a bit of creativity and empathy on the part of your sales teams can help improve your odds of overcoming this bias, there are a few additional things your team can do to combat the dreaded “not now” decision.

Prospects elect to stay with their current solutions or vendors for all sorts of reasons, even when these solutions or vendors are not meeting their needs, and it is clear that your product or service is a better fit for them. Some of these may be:

  • A perception that your product and service is a ‘nice to have’ but not a ‘need to have’
  • “What’s in it for me” is not immediately clear to the prospect and/or their department or company.
  • Concern about the difficulties (and risks) of switching from their current solution or vendor

As we all know, changing behaviors and mindsets is tough. Still, there are some proven strategies that can help you successfully address inertia in the buying process.

Articulate Client Incentives

Clearly answer the question “What’s in it for me?” from your client’s perspective and align your solution with client goals. In other words, illustrate a direct link from your solution to your prospect’s ability to achieve their company, department and personal objectives and to nail their key performance indicators (KPIs).

  • Develop a Customer-Specific Value Proposition

    • In the sales cycle, we have seen many organizations share a general value proposition, but overlook the advantage of customizing presentations to illustrate a value proposition focused on exactly what their solution can do for a specific prospect. This takes extra work; however, sales professionals who take the time to do this are more successful at overcoming “no decision” decisions by prospects.

    • Building title-specific value propositions as part of this effort will help you zero in even more on your true benefit to the client. Oftentimes, in complex sales to large enterprise prospects, multiple stakeholders get involved in the decision-making process. Each of these individuals comes to the table with their own individual and departmental challenges. Developing and demonstrating insight around individual and department needs is another way of iterating “What’s in it for me?"

Make the Decision to Buy Easy

When we humans have a small number of concepts or features to review, we are pretty adept at understanding our options and making definitive decisions about them. When a solution under review is more complex, ensuring clarity and simplicity in the way your solution is presented becomes even more critical. In presentations and materials, structuring complex ideas simply and clearly helps you reduce the possibility that your prospect will make a less desirable decision (or no decision at all) because of the complexity of the choices they are being asked to review.

Help Your Client Visualize Their Future Experience with You

One great way to build client confidence in a decision to do business with you is to help them see themselves in a positive end state with your solution in place. Depending on what your solution is, you may be able to accomplish this with illustrations, mock-ups. and/or custom product demonstrations. You can also help them to see future state by introducing them to the people and processes that will support them in implementation and as clients. And, if it’s feasible, one of the most effective ways to make them comfortable with you is by connecting them to referenceable clients who are willing to share their positive experiences with you and your company.

Build Proposals to Guide Your Client to Their Best Choice

Throughout the sales cycle, we should be guiding clients to make strategic choices. When it comes to the proposal phase, this is equally important. The concept of choice architecture can help us create an optimal framework to help our clients make decisions at this point. A couple of great tips for helping clients make choices are: limit the number of options you present in your proposal and ensure that the language you use articulates options clearly. Colleagues or other associates can be great review resources to help you make sure that your language and structure is straightforward and leaves no potential areas of confusion about your recommendations.

Special thanks to...

This blog was co-authored by Eddie Birchfield, a Partner with TechCXO, who works with healthcare services and healthcare IT companies (the majority of which are venture capital portfolio companies) for their sales, marketing, and business development needs. His focus is on helping companies get the most return for the money they spend on sales and marketing.

August 2, 2018
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