Three ways to create curiosity in customers and prospects

We all like to buy low, and sell high; to make a good investment and do a good deal. But investing in potential comes with risk, which big companies and government, in particular, aren’t too keen on. Their risk-averse behaviour is what coined the old adage, "No-one ever got fired by hiring IBM"; in other words, that it is safer to hire a firm with a proven track record, even if it does prove more costly (both in dollars and lost potential for innovation) to do so.

The need to mitigate a customer’s risk aversion is one reason why, when trying to sell a customer on something new, we will almost always revert to our past achievements as justification.

Tender request documents issued by buyers also exaggerate the importance of credentials, by giving us points for explaining our experience in similar work.

But this isn't what customers are really buying. Solid credentials may be the price of entry to a competition, but what customers are really interested in is what is coming next.

In To Sell is Human, Dan Pink suggests that we are more likely to buy into something or someone "with potential" - that is, yet to reach their peak. Among other research, he cites a test of two Facebook ads for a comedian, Kevin Shea. The first ad said Shea "could be the next big thing", while the second described him as "the next big thing." The first ad, hinting at Shea's potential, generated far more click-throughs and likes than the second.

Curiosity creates possibility. Here are three ways to create curiosity about your potential, with the aim of expanding the conversations you’re having with customers or prospects.

  1. Describe new developments in your field.
  2. Talk about something you're tinkering with, or a pilot program you are trialling.

Disclose some of the new thinking you and your team are developing, and explain how this might offer new and improved ways to deliver results.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant who helps helps service-based businesses that compete through bids and tenders to articulate the value in what they do, command a price premium, and build an offer that buyers can’t refuse. Don’t let others dictate how far and how fast your business can grow – take your power back! Email robyn@robynhaydon.com to request the white paper for the Beyond Ticking Boxes program.