After going through a difficult period in my personal life, my work habits had deteriorated pretty badly. I knew it was time to turn things around again, but darn, it was so freaking hard.
For me, the biggest challenge of all was writing. My focus was fractured and my creativity constrained. Change required effort and sustained willpower ‑more than I seemed capable of mustering.
When it was tough to sit down and type out articles, I let myself off the hook. I accepted my own lame excuses and frittered away my time. Even though I knew I had to make a change, it was just easier to keep putting everything off and avoiding a path that added stress and work to my life.
Which brings us to last week. I was hiking in the red rocks of Southern Utah, all the while chastising myself for following the path of least resistance professionally. I was keenly aware that it was not leading me in the right direction. That's when it hit me! There is HUGE value in following the path of least resistance.
How to Make the Path Easier
Not our own, but our buyers'. Like us, they default to the easiest way to get things done. Staying with the status quo might not be the best alternative, but they know how to live with it. Change takes effort; it adds to their workload. Change is risky; careers can be derailed. We need to focus on how we can simplify our buyer's entire decision process. At the beginning, when we initiate contact, we often run into objections that are seemingly impossible to overcome. No budgets. Not interested. Already working with another vendor. We search for great comebacks, trying to convince prospects that it's worth their time and effort to continue the conversation. It's hard to convince people. Mostly, we fail.
What if …we looked at what we said or did that created that obstacle in the first place?
Obviously, it was a response to what we said. Perhaps if we experimented with whole new approaches, we could eliminate the resistance. That's what happened to me when I stopped saying that I specialized in sales training. Instead, I focused on issues related to new product launches and results I'd helped other firms achieve. Instantly, they wanted to learn more. The path of least resistance.
Another major showstopper is getting companies to decide that it's imperative to change from the status quo. More opportunities are lost to "No decision." than any other competitor. What if we got serious about changing this resistance to change?
To do that, we'd have to analyze what we're currently doing that causes someone to give up on a change that would improve their business results. We might ask ourselves questions like:
- Has this buyer made decisions like this before? Did they feel overwhelmed?
- If they didn't feel like it was worth the effort, what do we need to do to help them understand the business case?
- Did we overcomplicate things and make it seem like a huge effort to replace the status quo?
- How can we help them get the buy-in of everyone involved in the decision process?
The harder it is to change, the less likely buyers are to do anything different. We need to eliminate or minimize any stumbling block. It's our job to create the path of least resistance. Not theirs.
Liz Wendling is the author of two books (and counting): The Unstoppable Business Woman and Everyone Sells Something, a columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, and one of the first nationally credentialed facilitators for Napoleon Hill Mastermind groups. Learn more at lizwendling.com.