status quo

King Arthur and status quo: A tale too often played out in sales

Do you know what movie this picture is from?

It’s from Monty Python and the Holy Grail– a classic parody movie packed with humor and one-liners.

In this specific scene, King Arthur had just witnessed the Black Knight defeat the Green Knight in a duel. Arthur then approaches the Black Knight to congratulate him and offer him a seat at Arthur’s court on the Round Table, but the Black Knight only stands still, holding his sword, and makes no response until Arthur moves to cross the bridge. The Black Knight refuses to stand aside. Reluctantly, Arthur fights the Black Knight and, after a relatively short exchange of sabers, the Knight’s left arm is severed.

Even at this, the Knight refuses to let King Arthur pass, insisting his arm wound “‘Tis but a scratch”. The Knight claims he has “had worse”, and fights on while holding his sword with his remaining arm. Soon after, the Black Knight’s right arm is cut off by King Arthur, but again, the Knight still does not concede even though he has literally been disarmed. When Arthur points out the Black Knight’s injuries, the Knight insists “It’s just a flesh wound!” Then Arthur chops off the Black Knight’s right leg. After more banter, the Black Knight replies by saying, “I’m invincible!” to which Arthur replies, “You’re loony!” With an air of resignation, Arthur finally cuts off the left leg as well and sheathes his sword. Now reduced to a mere stump of a man, the Black Knight says, “All right, we’ll call it a draw”.

Sounds like “STATUS QUO” won in that battle of mortals.

Have you experienced something similar with your clients? While you, like King Arthur, may see the major issues clients are facing – outdated solutions/no arms to fight back – your clients continue to reply “‘Tis but a scratch” or “we are fine and will work through it.”

The problem with “Status Quo” is that, for most organizations, it is rooted in a belief that the problem is not as severe as it really is. Choosing Status Quo is perceived as comfortable and requires little risk and little effort. But oh, what a fallacy that is, and sadly enough the failure often lies at the feet of the seller. Why the seller? Isn’t the buyer just being stubborn and harming themselves by refusing to acknowledge their dire straits?

Our purpose in selling is to help solve client’s problems – their pains – but that must begin with clients acknowledging that their problem is indeed painful…that is more than just a scratch.

As sellers, it is our job to help clients understand the risk in not making a change is higher than stepping-out and trying something new.

The best way to bring insight to your buyers is to help them gain a more accurate reality into the pains their underlying need is causing. There are three categories of pains that sellers need to activate within the buyers:

  • Business pains are typically associated with symbols, such as % and #. They are measurements including: declining customer satisfaction levels, deteriorating department reputation, lost market share and higher employee attrition.
  • Financial pains are typically associated with currency symbols such as $, €, £ and ¥. They often are directly correlated to the business pains, and include performance metrics like higher operating costs, lower revenues and increased customer acquisition/retention costs.
  • Personal pains typically associate with the symbols L, J and !, and this is ALWAYS the pain that matters most to a buyer. Examples include reduced compensation/bonus/equity payouts, increased threats to job security and reduced personal time/quality of life.

As sales professionals, it is fundamental we embrace the opportunity to help buyers recognize their problems keeping them from success. Like King Arthur, you may see the severe catastrophe and bleeding right in front of you, but unless you enable your client to internalize the true pain of their current state, and find ways to make them see it too, “Status Quo” will continue to win and your clients will never reach their true potential.