If you’re meeting resistance while pitching an energy efficiency project, try stepping into your prospect’s shoes for a moment. Remember, you’re not just selling to a company; you’re selling to one or more individuals within that company, each of which has a specific role and specific interests that you need to understand. What’s important to a company’s maintenance manager may be very different from what’s important to that company’s CFO. And if you’re not tailoring your pitch appropriately for your target audience, you’ll wind up wasting a lot of time.
Let’s consider how a maintenance manager might view a switch to LED lamps. Maintenance departments often become dependent on inefficient systems to generate work (and wages) for their employees. This department may be spending big chunks of its time changing light bulbs and performing other maintenance related to the old lighting system. What happens when the new lighting system is installed that requires little if any maintenance? How will they justify the budget to cover their workers’ paychecks?
The root cause of this anxiety is fear of change. When a long-established pattern changes, people have a strong tendency to resist the uncertainty of the new paradigm, particularly in the workplace. Your job in this situation is to reduce that uncertainty by giving concrete examples of how that department could better use its workers’ man-hours.
Let’s return to our maintenance manager for a moment… You might start by asking how much preventative maintenance in other areas might not be getting done because workers are chasing lamp and ballast replacements? Could motors be lubricated more often? Filters changed? Electrical panels surveyed for overheating? HVAC units serviced to prevent emergency problems when the temperature spikes? If the man-hours saved on lighting issues were used to address minor problems before they became expensive problems, the department would not only keep its staff gainfully employed, but also pave the wave to a healthier bottom line.
Sales is hardly a one-size-fits-all discipline. It’s a holistic endeavor involving psychology and many other skills that come together in a unique blend of art and science. Take the time to understand what’s in the mind of the prospect you’re approaching. Tony Robbins has said that the quality of your outcome will be determined by the quality of the evaluations you’re prepared to make. Take the time to develop your observation skills, empathy, and a big-picture mindset, and you will be better positioned to craft solutions that will genuinely address your prospects’ needs.
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