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When They’re Not Buying It

December 3, 2019

Have you ever tried to sell something?

Maybe you’ve never sold goods or services, but I bet you’ve at least tried to sell your idea or opinion. Let’s go the movies! Tacos are better than nachos. Cake is an acceptable breakfast food. I know, earth-shattering stuff.

But I’m trying to make this point—we’ve all been there. We’re working hard to sell something, to convince someone of our idea, and sometimes our customers, clients, or friends are just not buying it.

I experienced this with an ADDO client. We have a good, long-standing relationship, but there was a season where we were trying to move them in a certain direction that would benefit both parties and our shared work. However, after multiple tries to persuade them, nothing seemed to resonate.

I expressed my frustrations about this business exchange to a mentor and friend, and in response, he taught me a helpful lesson.

My friend reminded me that people make decisions based on one of three factors:

1. Vision
2. Pain
3. Fear of Pain

Put another way, people decide to buy something, or to make a change, when they see something more positive (vision), when they are trying to solve a problem (pain), or when they are afraid they’ll face challenges if they don’t do something (fear of pain).

The way it was explained to me, I had been selling vision. That’s what I enjoy selling. It’s positive and exciting. My mentor pointed out that when people stop buying vision, you have to create or show them where they have a pain point or at the very least, create a fear of pain on the horizon if no action is taken.

It’s not surprising that I get the most satisfaction out of selling vision. “If you do this, your life is going to be better; your organization is going to be healthier; your employees are going to be more engaged; your customers are going to be more loyal.”

Unfortunately, of the three factors, people base most of their decisions on pain or the fear of pain.

Your employees are disengaged. Your customers aren’t loyal. You’re losing the war for talent. Your strategy is not clear, and your people are frustrated. This is pain, and it’s motivating.

If you don’t make a change, your employees are going to leave and go somewhere else, your customers are going to go to your competitor, your engagement will drop, your customer-satisfaction will decrease, and you’ll be less efficient. This is a legitimate fear of impending pain.

Think about some of the major decisions you’ve made. Were those because of vision, pain, or fear of pain?

I bought the new car because of vision.
I bought the new transmission because of pain.
We bought the extended warranty because of the fear of pain.

Now, think about what you’re selling. Are you selling vision, pain, or a fear of pain?

Our nonprofit provides underprivileged children the opportunity for a better life—vision.
No more waiting in long lines, order through our mobile app—pain.
If you don’t sign up for this new streaming service, you’ll miss out on the new show everyone is talking about—fear of pain.

If you haven’t thought about how you sell your idea, product, or service, now is the time.

If they aren’t buying what you’re selling, you may not need to change your product, just your tactic. Shift the language, and shake things up. When you figure out what motivates them to buy, it’s far easier to sell.


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