• Causal Engines

Inertia in sales, and how to beat it

Most target customers are hopelessly in a state of inertia. Often, startups are struggling to find quality leads or they just can’t convert their first paying customer.

So what makes a company truly fight inertia and buy your product to change? What makes a buyer change? Why do people pick your product?

There are a few ways human beings generally lower their social inertia, but here’s how it starts:

*Create urgency via digging for pain*

Most people are stuck in some sort of pain. For example, an accountant might have a pain point around manual data entry: it’s tedious, it’s error-prone, and it eats up a lot of time. A doctor might struggle with maintaining patient charts and would prefer to digitize the process.

Sometimes customers are aware of their pain points, other times they’re not. Although it may be easier to make a sale to the former, a good sales rep digs for pain-points and educates customers about them, and recommends relevant solutions.

In other words, there is always a higher valence electron orbital level for a customer to rise to. If you understand your user and what bothers them, customer pain is the easiest way to understand that there’s something that needs solving and that can be solved today.

*Social proof*

Sharing stories of similar people and their product journey (where they were vs where they are today) is very effective. It’s the same reason Weight Watchers shows before and after pictures of its clients. Not only do they demonstrate product usefulness, but there is an important social component: people tend to buy things that other similar people have, especially when they really work.

*Understand the human incentives inside an organization*

Organizations are mini-fiefdoms, whether they look like it or not. Buyers want to look good and want to succeed. Many people see software as a viable means of outpacing their colleagues in the workplace. Grammarly, for example, markets under the value proposition that its software helps users “make their online writing clear and effective.”

*Empathy for the person buying*

If you are making a large enterprise sale, know that the buyer is going out on a limb to support you. At the end of the day, no matter how differentiated you believe your product is, customers have a choice of vendors. Expressing gratitude to your customers-- especially in high stakes sales-- helps to solidify a genuine relationship and builds trust.

*Creating a movement within the company*

Internal company events and meetings often create success. They’re opportunities for your user to show off your product to the rest of their organization. For instance, Alteryx, a data analytics tool, gains recognition when its professional users present the product at company-wide gatherings. Once its usefulness is proven, the tool spreads across the various departments of large enterprises via landing and expanding.

At the end of the day, inertia is a hard barrier to overcome, but the more time you spend thinking about how to tackle it, the more successful your startup’s distribution strategy will be.

This article is a collaboration between Archit Bhise and Grant Sobczak.