Four years ago, I wrote a post suggesting that sales and marketing teams abolish the practice (and mindset) of using FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) as a core part of competitive selling. At the time, it was an idea based on our research on trust and the buying process. My perspective was that when we use tactics that cause buyers to have doubts and focus on negativity it can also extend into their perceptions of us and themselves. It might make them more skeptical of a competitor; but it is also likely to make them more skeptical of you.
I still feel that way. And now have some data to reinforce it. In two recent Gartner studies (one conducted by my colleagues in our sales practice and one that I lead) of B2B buyers (and tech buyers specifically for my study), the message was overwhelmingly clear. This blog post from Nick Toman covers the sales study in quite a bit of detail (wrapping it with some context to the relationship to the Challenger model). Many of my recent posts explore aspects of the technology study.
Additionally, I’ll be exploring it in more detail in a webinar coming up on September 23. You can register here.
They key to success is building confidence. Confidence in information; confidence in themselves, and confidence in their “partners” in making it happen (you the vendor). Confidence is a mindset. And it is easily eroded. But also easily reinforced. As a vendor/partner, we have a unique opportunity to build and reinforce confidence based on how we act–our practices.
Our mindsets and practices impact our customers’ mindsets and practices.
With that in mind, I’ll repeat the suggestions I offered back in 2015:
- Rather than fear, strive to create (a sense of) Calm.
- Rather than uncertainty, provide Clarity.
- And, rather than doubt, instill Confidence.
To calm buyers, show them the path to change–acknowledging uncertainties while exploring how to address them.
To provide clarity, audit your information and communications to assess consistency while also identifying third party resources that can be used to validate ideas.
And finally, build collective confidence in the buying team–that they are doing the right thing; that they can be successful; that, together, everyone can win.
We still need to be competitive, but when addressing competitors, look for ways to do so without causing a detrimental impact on the buying team’s confidence and their perception of you.
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