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Sales 101: Catch Prospects In The ‘Change Mode’

by Fred Miller
Do you ever find yourself spending major
time prospecting, but getting minor results?
How often does the following happen?
You and the prospect agree that your
proposal can: save money, offer more
features and benefits, get the job done
quicker with less errors, is easier to use, has
intrinsic benefits beyond the multiple cost
savings; etc., etc. In other words, your
offering is a totally better value than the
competitive product/service now being used,
and the prospective customer agrees—but,
no sale!
The problem isn’t necessarily you, your
product or service, or the prospect. It could
be, like we’ve all heard so many times
Often in sales: Timing is everything!
The research shows that most people are
very resistant to change. In fact,
FastCompany Magazine recently featured
the subject in its May 2005 issue stating how
hard it is for people to change even if their
life is in danger!
If humans won’t change to save their lives,
no wonder it’s so hard to get them to switch
to your product or service, even if it’s the
smartest thing to do!
So when is the best time to sell? The
simple answer is when the prospect is in the
“Change Mode.”
The “Change Mode” is the sweet spot
that’s the best time to sell new business.
Just as important, it’s also the risk spot
when you’re more likely to lose a client than
during normal times.
And when, you ask, does the “Change
Mode” happen?
It comes about when major business
activity is occurring. Activity such as: new
business, change of ownership, new
location, new branch, construction and
similar things. When significant happenings
like these come along, someone gets in the
“Change Mode” and says, “I’m going to
look at everything!”
This is the time you want to be close to
prospects—and closer to clients!
It is important to stay closer to clients,
because as a vendor, you are in a riskier
situation than normal. This is because
people are much more likely to switch
vendors when their business is changing.
Along with this fact, the research also shows
it’s far easier to keep a present customer than
get a new one.
Too many times we place an inordinate
amount of time on new business, and ignore
the customers we presently service. Have
you ever been blindsided when a client
you’ve sold to for years, and you thought
you were tight with, suddenly jumped to a
Investigate how it happened and you’re
likely to find a major business activity
occurred and someone got into the “Change
How can you avoid being caught unprepared
like this?
Several ways:
1. One of the big buzzwords these days is
Customer Relationship Management, CRM
for short. It means having a system in place
to regularly touch base with customers.
Your clients need to know you care about
your relationship, and not just when it’s at
Regular phone calls, emails, post cards and
sometimes stopping in to check that
“everything’s OK,” can go a long way in the
battle to reduce attrition.
CRM can be as simple as using a Contact
Management System like ACT or Goldmine
and setting reminders of who and when to
contact for these client “touches.”
2. Be aware of what’s going on with your
clients. Be sure you and your staff consistently
ask them “What’s going on?” or
“Anything new happening with your
3. Read the business section of the paper
and observe who’s moving, expanding,
adding locations, etc.
4. Subscribe to a sales lead service that
regularly reports the kind of major business
activity that puts people in the “Change
Selling new customers and working on
client retention are two of the main activities
that build a good, solid, and profitable
Catching prospects and clients in the
“Change Mode” will make these activities
profitable by spending major time on high
outcome possibilities.
Fred Miller ( is president
of Business Research Bureau.

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