Turning Adversaries into Allies
Whether you’re a scaling technology company like us, or financial institution like our customers, we all have to work to earn the trust of prospective clients. We’ve all had those prospects who really dig in their heels and make you pull out all the stops to bring them on board. They think critically about everything you say, questioning each benefit presented, and dissecting every valuable element of the service you provide. Your sales pitch feels adversarial, and you likely want to give up and focus your efforts on a more receptive prospect.
Resist that temptation. These customers are challenging but, if you can win them over and if you can prove that what you’re offering can truly benefit them, this group of perceived adversaries can become your very best allies.
Here’s where you start:
People resist what they don’t understand, so make sure these adversaries really understand what you’re offering. Answer their questions clearly and directly — this isn’t politics. If you dance around a question without giving a clear answer, they will see right through it, and will lose confidence in you before you’ve even had the chance to earn it. Give specific answers and avoid jargon and buzzwords.
Speaking of clarity: nothing is more clear than specific, undisputable numbers. Anecdotal information may work for some customers, but these adversaries need to hear about concrete, measurable impacts that you’ve had on the bottom line of other businesses. Words are subjective, but numbers are not. Provide numbers that prove value whenever there’s an opportunity to do so.
Be relatable and invite them into your ideation process. When prospects can relate to the process that you took when you moved from ideation to execution, they are more likely to see things from your perspective. Use commonalities to explain how your service can help them or their business. Don’t just talk about how your service can help; show them examples of how your service has helped customers in situations that are similar to theirs.
Strategic, intentional communication around the value of your service will help to convert these adversaries and once you do, you will build a long-lasting relationship built on trust, mutual benefit and deep understanding. These new customers have asked every question, reviewed every number, studied every use-case, and come to value your product through their own careful and deliberate research process (supported by you, of course).
Once you’ve flipped this client from a skeptical adversary into an ally, they will remember the journey they took to get to where they are today and the value they have received. The hard work of making an ally in this way will pay off — as you, the clear, data-driven, inclusive advisor, were able to show them real value — and they’ll be happy to spread the word.
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