“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”
– John Maynard Keynes
In all my years of working with clients, helping them to achieve their business goals, I have never heard anything so profoundly comical and truthful as what Guy Kawasaki had to say at the recent HubSpot Inbound 2014 conference; “Clients don’t want different, they want better sameness.
Had I only heard that at the beginning of my career, I would have saved myself needless sleepless nights in front of a hot laptop, warming my face by the screen’s glow, trying to figure how to come up with the most radically stellar solutions I could dream up. As it turns out, they don’t want that. In Guy’s supposition, they just want a more sparkly version of what they already have. How disappointing.
Why Better Sameness Is The Preferred Solution
Old adages are still around for a reason, because they always ring true, no matter how dated they are. The one I will give a shout out to today is this, “people don’t like change.” They certainly don’t. Just ask the New Coke creators. The world rejected their sleepless-night dream concoction with a lot of fanfare.
The next adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Coca-cola, as it turns out, didn’t need fixing, according to its consumers. Well, Coke, you live and you learn. Even if it was ‘broke’, it just needed some glittery duct tape and it would have been as good as new.
Radically different means unknown outcomes. Unknown outcomes mean scary implementations. No one wants to be wrong about a big new thing, especially if it costs their company a lot of money. No one wants to be That Guy. That guy usually needs to find another job when his Big New Thing flops harder than a 500 lb. slab of Jello on a concrete floor.
It Is The Same But Different: Turning Their Attentions To The New
If your customer really does need something new, what do you do? How do you get them to let go of the past and embrace a bright new future. Here are some quick ways to divert their attention from the past:
- Ask questions about why they are shopping-
You are looking for what is wrong with what they have now. Focus your new solution on what you will do to fix what is broken.
- Find out what they like about what they have-
See if you can keep the elements of what they are attached to in the new solution. Make sure you highlight that in your proposal so they feel comforted by what is familiar to them.
- Avoid talking about things that are ‘what everyone is doing now’-
The “this is cool” argument is likely to not fly very far. Yes, everyone is going to a cloud-based solution but an executive in his early 60’s who is not very tech savvy is not even going to really grasp what you are talking about, let alone why he needs to get with the virtual program. Talk about how the new thing coincides with what they like about the old thing, but better.
Better sameness. Get it? Helping your customer feel like what you offer is familiar in some way will help cross those barriers put up to fight off something new. When your customer is comfy, you both win.