It sounds daunting: filling the vacuum of uncertainty. Because it is. We’re living in a time of extraordinary change and it’s unrelenting. There’s only going to be more of it in the years ahead.
I touched on that recently during my talk with Alan Weiss via LinkedIn Live. He pointed to what he called the “tectonic shifts” happening right under our feet these days, including demographics, economic turbulence, climate change and technology.
How do we cope and how do we adapt and thrive in this new reality?
Those questions define the vacuum of uncertainty.
NOTHING SURVIVES IN A VACUUM
Filling that vacuum is your job as a sales leader. You are the one in the troubleshooting and solutions-providing business: not your customer. So let’s break down the challenge a little further. There are two kinds of uncertainty: micro and macro. Micro uncertainty is what you encounter daily, while out in the field with customers. Macro is what we’re all having to deal with together in the world today.
Here are specific problems and solutions for each…
1) MICRO UNCERTAINTY
Address buyer objections. Your hesitating customer isn’t objecting because they’ve been put on the spot. It’s that they don’t want to make a decision now—for reasons that are not yet known to you fully. Fill that vacuum of uncertainty by digging for facts and applying them to a meaningful solution. Testimonials and success stories from other clients are excellent here. It shows your prospects that others liked you first. It also helps address the most common buying objections, so they become part of the conversation. You show how you overcame and helped your client succeed.
Use consensus gathering tools. As I’ve talked about before, you must activate a consensus-focused gathering in a multi-threaded environment so that it can produce repeatable results for you and your customer. It means knowing and leveraging your best mobilizers in an organization. This is complex problem-solving! Team selling and having at least four stakeholders engaged here is ideal. You build consensus by showing multiple people what’s in it for them. And you show how your solutions—again, filling that vacuum—help them all get what they want.
2) MACRO UNCERTAINTY
Connect the dots for yourself and for them. Understand and define noticeable trends influencing your customer today—those affecting their business and those affecting their specific job. If there’s a global supply chain issue in your industry, ask how it’s hitting your customer specifically. Show how you solve these problems in units of measure that make sense to them. And define the decision-making positions before you try solving their problems. Get into the story that’s already inside their head. This helps show them you understand their world. And that helps fill the vacuum.
Bring quality insights to the table. Technology is your friend, not your enemy. But you must use it wisely. For instance, I talk regularly about how you must make better use of AI research tools in sales. But remember what my friend Douglas Squirrel said about AI: treat it like it’s “a not very knowledgeable research assistant.” It delivers quantitatively, not quality. Just as important, you must read quality business news sources (Bloomberg is my personal favorite). Pay attention also to trade publications and LinkedIn conversations that others in your industry are having. Make it a habit to consider points of view that are different from your own. All of this makes us sharper, better informed sales professionals.
THERE’S EVEN MORE AT STAKE
Yes, filling the vacuum of uncertainty is a must-do in sales today. But there’s an even deeper reason for you to care about this. As I’ve talked about in recent presentations, trust is on the line. It is the new scarcity. And it feels like it’s gone missing…everywhere. The more you fill this vacuum confidently, the more you reinforce that much-needed level of trust. And that’s a sure thing for growth and prosperity…even in the most uncertain times!