Disruptive Selling: More Risk, Not Less

The temptation in elevator speeches and presentations  is to tell customers that your solution is “risk free”. But it is not only impossible to be risk free, it is a really bad move to say this to your customers. You lose your consultative credibility because you are clearly using hyperbole, not providing value. All business process owners know there is no such thing as risk free changes, and change risk is a serious topic for them.

The most common gag that salespeople attempt to pull is stating that the change is risk free because there is a guarantee behind their solution. But the strongest guarantee in existence only stipulates that the customer will be reimbursed if something goes wrong. This doesn’t address the customer’s risk concern. They are focused on the risk of their business suffering because of your failure, not your refund policy.

What your customers really want you to do is identify and quantify the risks associated with implementing your product or service and how you will manage them. Identifying risks means categorizing and then specifying them, e.g. a category of ‘change risk’ can include specific risks like network downtime, employee turnover, learning curves or low user adoption. For each identified risk there is a probability and impact metric that is calculated to prioritize them. Once these factors are known, you can competently plan how you will manage the risk so your solution is successful (more on risk management here).

The second thing to realize is that disruptive solutions carry more risk than non-disruptive (a.k.a. “normal”) solutions. This is a good thing. Normal solutions compete with each other around the edges on price, grade, quality or some combination of the three – but they are essentially the same. Disruptive solutions change the way your customer does business by altering their processes and outputs. Naturally this level of change carries more risk than a normal solution, but the positive impact to customer productivity and spend is many times greater.

The bottom line is that it’s worth it to take risks and these are the solutions your customers want. So get disruptive with your solution offerings! Just remember to communicate that your organization understands risk and manages it well.

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