Defeat Your Prospect’s Status Quo with Unconsidered Needs

When acquiring new customers, many salespeople assume their prospects will ultimately decide between their solution or a competitor’s solution.

But the truth is, 40 percent of deals in the pipeline end in “no decision.” Prospects don’t see a compelling enough reason to change from their current situation, so they decide to do nothing at all.

In other words, your biggest enemy is not your competitors—it’s the status quo.

Over the years, psychological studies have shown that people have an innate aversion to doing something different than what they’re doing today. This cognitive bias is known as Status Quo Bias, and it causes a level of subconscious inertia that you need to overcome in your acquisition conversations.

New prospects aren’t asking themselves why they should choose you—they’re asking themselves, “why should I change?” It’s your job to convince them to change by telling a powerful story that makes their current situation seem unsafe and unsustainable.

You need to break their status quo. And you do it by introducing what we call “Unconsidered Needs.”

What Are Unconsidered Needs?

To disrupt your prospect’s natural preference for the status quo, you need to venture beyond known problems and introduce your prospects to their Unconsidered Needs.

What are Unconsidered Needs?

Unconsidered Needs are challenges, shortcomings, or missed opportunities that your prospect doesn’t yet know about but are holding them back from their most important business goals.

They are, by definition, previously unconsidered. So you won’t be able to identify Unconsidered Needs through voice of the customer research.

Unconsidered Needs vs. Voice of the Customer

If you base your messages on what your prospects tell you their needs are, whether through voice of the customer research or discovery questions, you’re then inclined to connect those identified needs to your solution’s specific capabilities that respond to those needs.

But when you create your value proposition based on your customer’s stated needs, you end up delivering commodity messages that won’t differentiate you.

Why? Because all of your competitors are relying on the same inputs from their prospects and customers. And you’ll be responding with similar capabilities to meet those identified needs.

The result is a commoditized conversation. Because prospects hear very similar things from you and your competitors, they see no contrast between their choices. They also tend to stick with the status quo because there’s no urgency to change.

If they do make a decision, buyers will often turn to the one place they can make some differentiation and try to get you to lower your price.

Some companies try to get around this by identifying additional capabilities outside the buyers’ identified needs and positioning them as “value-added services.” However, prospects don’t always see the value of these additional features—they often just add cost and complexity to the conversation.

Unconsidered Needs selling technique


Escaping the Commodity Box

To avoid commoditized conversations, you need to help your prospects see their situations in fresh and revealing ways. You need to help them realize the inconsistencies or uncertainties in the way they’re doing things today.

To accomplish this, you first introduce Unconsidered Needs that exist beyond your prospects’ obvious stated needs. This means digging hard to find needs that are off your prospect’s radar—unconsidered, unmet, or underappreciated gaps and opportunities within their business.

As a next step, you align your solution’s unique strengths with the Unconsidered Needs you introduced. This creates a sense of urgency that motivates your prospect to change and creates a context to present your unique strengths.

Now, your prospect has a reason to care about your strengths and capabilities. They go from not adding value to being invaluable. This intersection between your prospect’s Unconsidered Needs and your solution’s unique strengths is where you can establish that you’re singularly qualified to drive a better, more valuable change scenario.

Introducing these unknown, unmet, or underappreciated needs is the first step of a compelling Why Change story, which has been shown in our research to dramatically improve your ability to disrupt and dislodge your prospects’ status quo.

Testing the Impact of Unconsidered Needs

The idea of linking a prospects’ Unconsidered Needs to your unexpected strengths sounds like it has potential. But how do you know it works?

To test this approach’s impact, Corporate Visions teamed up with Dr. Zakary Tormala, a social psychologist with expertise in messaging and persuasion, to conduct a research study.

For the study, we enlisted 400 individuals for a B2B simulation to test the messaging effectiveness of Unconsidered Needs against more traditional approaches, such as responding to the stated or known needs of your prospects, as well as the typical “value-added” approach many salespeople use to create differentiation.

The results? A disruptive messaging approach that introduces Unconsidered Needs first gives sellers a statistically significant advantage in the areas below, compared to traditional techniques—and the margin of difference wasn’t even close.

Our research study found that leading with an Unconsidered Need outperformed the other messaging approaches by:

  • +11 percent in terms of presentation quality.
  • A whopping +41 percent in terms of presentation uniqueness.
  • +10 percent in attitude and choice measures, which assessed how much the message enhanced attitudes and boosted purchase intent.

According to Dr. Tormala, the results are consistent with Decision Science research, which shows that highlighting Unconsidered Needs is unexpected and promotes uncertainty, accelerating decision processing.

Create the Buying Vision for Change

It’s not the right approach for every selling situation. But there’s no doubt that introducing Unconsidered Needs is an effective way to convince new prospects to change their current approach. And it sets the stage for the differentiated Why You story you’ll need to reinforce your uniqueness.

Check out our webinar replay, (Co-)Creating the Buying Vision for Change, to learn how you can identify Unconsidered Needs and deliver them effectively in a virtual selling environment.

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Tim Riesterer

Chief Strategy Officer

Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy Officer at Corporate Visions, is dedicated to helping companies improve their conversations with prospects and customers to win more business. A visionary researcher, thought leader, keynote speaker, and practitioner with more than 20 years of experience in marketing and sales management, Riesterer is co-author of four books, including Customer Message Management, Conversations that Win the Complex Sale, The Three Value Conversations, and The Expansion Sale.

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