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The Pull of Resistive Inertia: One of the Biggest Sales Challenges

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Jan 13, 2022

One of the biggest sales challenges to overcome is a prospect who becomes indifferent when they decide that doing nothing is the easiest thing to do.

How do you challenge the decision and not the prospect to help them overcome their choice to maintain the status quo?


There is no question that the most disappointing outcome for a salesperson to receive after their presentation is the outcome where the prospect does nothing. Not only did you not get the business…neither did any of the other firms that pitched the deal. The prospect simply stayed with the incumbent provider. They did nothing.

Before we go any further, let me give you two acronyms:

PI = Prospect Indifference
CSQ = Cost of Status Quo

I would argue that those two things are perhaps even more powerful than the other firms that provide you with ongoing competition. Just like Reese Cups, potato chips, and certain adult beverages, the gravitational pull of doing nothing can be hard for prospects to resist. Prospects become indifferent when they decide that doing nothing is the easiest thing to do. But here is the reality – while it may be the easiest thing to do, it is not often the right thing to do. Here is a general life principle: the hard thing to do and the right thing to do are often the same things.

You have two options when your prospect does nothing (they simply stick with the incumbent):

  1. Eat another Reese Cup and do nothing yourself (walk away)
  2. Challenge the decision (challenge the decision, not the prospect)

How do you do that? You do that by asking the prospect if they have calculated the cost of maintaining the status quo (CSQ). Ask them what their tolerance is to continue to deal with the problems you uncovered during your discovery process. Ask them what those problems will likely cost them going forward.

I will close with two questions: when do you want to know about the likelihood of your prospect maintaining the status quo? And when do you want to know that the pull of resistive inertia will just be too powerful and will likely prevent the prospect from making a move? Don’t forget the set of questions you should be asking towards the end of your first call: does your prospect have a problem that they have to fix, and who gets to fix it?

Or you can do nothing. Just take a bag of candy to snack on during your ride back to the office.

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Topics: sales challenges, biggest challenges in sales, challenges of a sales representative


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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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