How to Convert Skeptics at Your Next Sales Meeting

January 10, 2019
If you have ever made a sales presentation to a room full of decision makers, you almost certainly have encountered a few skeptics in the crowd.  Driving change within an organization can be difficult and fraught with roadblocks, including those decision makers that resist change.

As more organizations are embracing (or being forced to embrace) digital transformation, there are a number of hurdles that must be identified, addressed and overcome in order to achieve business success.  This includes convincing the skeptics in the room of the value of implementing a new strategy with tools that encourage process improvements and simplification that will enable their business to successfully achieve digital transformation.  

Our friends at Force Management deal with this selling challenge everyday.  Their expert facilitators have developed an easy to follow process for overcoming skeptics to change. Their five key steps include:

  • Find the Source(s) of Skepticism
  • Put it on the Table for all to See
  • Demonstrate the Value
  • Execute
  • Embrace Them

As you prepare for your meeting, these steps will help you craft talking points that address the challenges you will encounter during the sales process.  

Find the Source
Assess why people in the room may be skeptical. If you have a majority of people feeling skeptical, it’s because there is some reality behind it. There wouldn’t be skepticism unless something happened. It’s probably not something they did. If this is a widespread issue, ask yourself, Where is this coming from?”. What has happened to create that skepticism?  Often times it has to do with repeat change initiatives that don’t work. There wasn’t discipline behind the process and a lack of follow through. If you had your team buy into change initiatives in the past, with no adoption, that may be the reason for the skepticism now.

Put it on the Table
No skeptic is going to stand up in the room and call out the presenter for presenting something he/she doesn’t think is going to work. So as a presenter, you may want to try calling out the elephant in the room. Think about finding a creative way of doing this, like a video or a skit. Get the objections on the table. Apologize for mistakes made in the past and then let them know you are committed to not making the mistake again. It doesn’t hurt to actually show the exact steps that will be different this time around.

Demonstrate the Value
Your presentation should be focused on creating value for the people in the meeting. The real value is for the audience, so you should respect their time.  Be sure to address how will it make their jobs easier? How will it make them more successful? Communicate and demonstrate that value repeatedly.

Execute
When it comes to skeptics, one thing is guaranteed. You will never get their buy-in if you don’t execute. If you know that your meeting will have a room full of skeptics, you have to kill it in the execution. Don’t shortchange it. This event may be your only shot at getting them on board.

Embrace Them
Having skeptics isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Skeptics can end up being your greatest supporters if you’re able to convert them. If you can bring them over to the new way of doing things, they’ll champion your cause. Don’t confuse them with cynics. Cynics can’t change and wIll not so we should make them available to the industry at large.

Remembering that driving change within an organization can be difficult and fraught with roadblocks, including those decision makers that resist change. By following these five steps, you will be prepared for almost any skeptics you encounter on your sales journey and help you lead the way to customer success.

To learn more about how we can help you provide your customers with customized solutions for the biggest business challenges facing your customers, book some time on our calendar here.