There is a country song with these lyrics, “Everyone wants to go to Heaven, no one wants to die.”
We want things, but we don’t do what is necessary to have those things. This truth is easier to recognise in others than ourselves. If you have clients, you know they want better results without having to change.
goals and outcomes
Your dream client explains to you that they need a new outcome. What they’re doing isn’t working. Not being able to achieve this new or better outcome is starting to have serious consequences to their results, and they’re certain that things will only get worse in the future.
Your prospect has a problem worth solving. This is how new opportunities are created, and it is also how you remove your competitor and displace them. If only it were this easy.
constraints, real and imagined
The reason your dream client isn’t getting the results they need now is because they have constraints that they have been unwilling to address. You have likely experienced this with a prospective client who sees the value in what you sell and believes that you are the right person to help their company improve their results. You have their full support. Until you discuss the investment necessary to produce the results they need.
Lack of money is a constraint. The lack of time and resources is a constraint. An unwillingness to allow leadership and other stakeholders who would be required to agree to any change into the conversation is a constraint.
Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die. We want better results, but we don’t want to do what is necessary to produce those results. This isn’t only true for your clients; it is equally true for you. If you think about something that you want for yourself but haven’t achieved, it’s certain that you know what you would need to do to have it and that you have some constraint, real or imagined, that prevents you from getting what you want.
But this isn’t where this problem ends. The biggest challenge we have in business is helping people change. That is a psychology problem.
The presenting problem, the constraints or behaviors that prevent someone from getting what they want, is not the root cause of why those constraints or behaviors persist.
behind the constraint
Constraints are not permanent. Most people don’t lack resources; they lack resourcefulness. If you are going to help someone breakthrough and transform their results, you have to get to the real constraint, which is always fear.
Why doesn’t your dream client have the money they need to make the investment necessary for the results they need? Here are some ideas:
Maybe your contact has asked for money in the past and failed, and he is afraid of failing again and risking his position in the company. Maybe your dream client’s company is spending for money in another area and won’t be able to free up the budget for 6 months. Maybe your contact has a rocky relationship with her leader and doesn’t believe she can pull off a request for a budget increase. Or maybe, the real fear is the fear of failure, and it has nothing to do with money.
Until you help your client deal with what’s really behind the constraint, they are not going to get the results they need, even though you could easily produce them. What is behind the constraint is almost always some deep human need.
What does this mean we need to do as change agents?
- First, we have to be willing and able to help the people we serve to identify their constraint. This is usually easy because your contacts are more committed to their constraints than they are to their desired outcome, or goals. If it were otherwise, they’d be producing the results already.
- Second, we have to be willing to help identify the fear behind the constraint.This is what consultative salespeople do. They “go there.” If your client had to deal with this constraint, what would have to happen, and what is preventing that from happening?
- Finally, we have to generate options that allow us to address the fear (which, by the way, is very real) and deal with the constraint. We have to help our prospects fear the right danger and deal with their assumptions that no action can be taken that doesn’t hurt them. Most often, they get hurt when they don’t make the changes they need to make.