Your biggest competition in B2B sales can be what might be described as the comfort of the blue pill, as made famous in the Matrix series.
In the movie, Morpheus, describes the blue pill as waking up in your bed and believing whatever you want to believe.
There's a natural desire for prospects to want to believe things are good and have a preference for doing nothing. At least nothing in relation to your product or service.
The blue pill and red pill choice that Morpheus gives Neo in the Matrix comes into play in sales when you have insights. The red pill is one that may prompt the prospect to make changes in their status quo. It’s a choice the client must make for themselves, but your approach will have a great influence on that choice.
Ignorance is Bliss
Blue pill decision-makers tend to surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear and are probably not your best prospects.
However, many successful business people are open to new ideas, so your goal is to play the part of Morpheus and bring them insights that help them consider red pill decisions related to your particular product or service.
Look For Signs That Prospects Are Ready
In the newest Matrix Revolutions film, Neo is back in the blue pill world, but he’s put some things out, which indicates he’s not sure about what's happening— he’s questioning.
Many of your prospects are like that. When prospects start to rethink things, you can often find signs from their online and social activity. If your company is doing inbound marketing, you may find out when they download something from your blog or website.
Think Like an Owner, Develop Business Acumen
If you're going to suggest someone change the decisions they're making about their business; it’s important that you have insights they don’t know yet or are only beginning to consider.
Improving your business acumen will give you a greater chance of discovering those insights. Besides research, every meeting you have with a business owner is a way to increase your business acumen if you are actively listening and not just selling. We teach that to think as an owner begins with understanding these three areas.
- How their business runs (how they make money, dive profits, and measure success)
- How they spend their time (on their people, product, and processes)
- How trends impact their business (like consumer behavior, market condition, regulation)
Valid Business Reason
In the Matrix film, Morpheus has the task of convincing Neo to consider the red pill — few want to know truths that make them change what they're doing.
In sales, a good valid business reason (VBR) is your start. Your insights should help prospects reconsider their status quo. But your valid business reason was developed from the outside looking in, so you need a needs analysis meeting to further develop your VBR and eventual proposed solution. These four things are key to a good VBR:
- Insight: Based on current, timely information affecting the prospect. (research)
- Empathy: It demonstrates you can understand and relate to their problem (business acumen)
- Expertise: It implies you have solved similar challenges to the ones they may be having (experience)
- Problem-Solving: It shows you have the capabilities to develop a solution to your problem (expertise)
Needs Analysis Model
If the prospect has granted you a meeting, they're probably not completely in a "blue pill" complacent reality.
Something else in their business may have already hinted at a "red pill" reality. You still have a lot to accomplish to overcome the propensity to do nothing. Your discovery meeting is where you confirm your insights and find the areas where the client’s desired business results are not matching their current reality. These 4As walk you through the process:
- Assessment – What are their desired business results? Don’t assume they just know this and were waiting for you to come in and ask them. You need to be a good detective and draw upon the business acumen and insights you are developing as a professional B2B salesperson. Areas of growth, challenges, and opportunity are key.
- Assignment – Now, what’s missing? What seems to be most important? Which can you help with? How does the desired business result fit in with their existing plans, potential spending to address it, and the timetable would they like to see results?
- Analysis – At this point, you focus on a single or very short list of assignments. What makes this the most important? What has stopped them from achieving this in the past?
- Agreement – You may have helped the prospect see things in a new light, but you still need to clarify a few points of agreement. How will they measure success? Make sure it’s more than just one way, ideally 2-3. You also want to go back to the assignment and clarify what actions the prospect needs to take and how they will be involved in the process.
Red Pill Awareness is Fragile — Advise
At this point, the client may agree they have a challenge or opportunity they need to act upon and are open to a new reality that includes investing with you. But they still may decide to invest their money with a competitor, a totally different initiative, or not at all.
We call the phase between the needs analysis and presenting your proposal the ADVISE step.
You should still be advising and collaborating with the client on building the solution together. And now that you know what to look for, watch for signs of blue pill mentality returning, or an Agent Smith (your competitor) arriving on the scene.