FUD. One acronym drummed into me way back during my Sales induction.
Fear Uncertainty Doubt was promoted as the winning angle of the IBM salesforce. Widely considered the technology selling benchmark a quarter-century ago.
The legend had it that they won so many deals in part because they managed to get the buyer thinking about what might happen should they not buy Big Blue. The famous line deployed, “no-one ever got sacked for buying IBM”.
With open slating of political opponents plunging ever darker depths in my birthplace, one survey found that a specific slogan suggesting a nightmare scenario had the potential to ‘swing’ two million voters, including eight percent of the main opposition supporters.
Indeed the accepted wisdom is that negative campaigning works.
Quote the constant remark of psychologists (inciting my perennial favourite, prospect theory, for which incidentally, I recently happened across yet another ‘loss aversion’ proving study, this time of 2½m professional golf putts where players take longer over the same length shot for par or bogey than birdie);
Fear of losing something we have outweighs our hope of gaining something in the future
The left pummel the line that the NHS is supposedly unsafe in the right’s hands. The right ram the message home that the left coalition with the Scots will bring mayhem and blackmail.
I caught Professor Vernon Bogdanor of Kings College London bust the myth of the most renowned Hope campaign of recent times. For it seems that Obama’s campaign progressed in 2012 America to include people laid off by Romney’s business talk about how they then got cancer. Whoa.
On firmer moral ground, we can borrow the politician tactic in solution sales.
Provided we know what it is that the prospect would prefer not to lose.
Classic fertile turf begins with the overtly personal, like their job, right through to general market position, ground to a key competitor or even cultural attraction.
It doesn’t take much gentle prodding to deduce what your potential customer values highly about their current state of affairs.
So if there’s a way your Proposal can help protect such, then you too can encourage them to ‘swing’.