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What Motivates a Prospect to Buy - Consequences, Not Issues

Handgun_Trigger.jpg“Why do they continue to put up with such high turnover?”

“They keep telling me their current vendor can’t fill their positions, but I just can’t get them to make a change!”

One of the most frustrating aspects of the sales process is when we know the prospect is not happy with their current situation, but they still won’t pull the trigger. Why do they continue to deal with such major issues, when they have even told us that we are a better solution?

Its because we tend to focus on “issues” rather than the consequences associated with these issues. We talk about turnover, time to fill, no shows, the quality and productivity of employees, etc. All of these are issues that the prospect deals with, but in many cases they are not enough to compel them to make a change.

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What we need to focus on are the consequences that these issues create, or have the potential to create. For example, high turnover is frustrating, but the consequences of high turnover are that deadlines are missed, budgets are overrun, bonuses are lost, and managers get fired.

Issues are irritating; consequences keep people up at night.

The reality is that your prospect either has not considered all of the potential consequences associated with their current issues, or more likely, tries not to think about them. So it is our job as sales people to help them see that the irritations they are experiencing can actually have a significant impact on both their company and them personally. The more you can get your prospect to realize the risks associated with their current issues, the higher the priority they will place on making a change.

We do this by asking consequence questions. Instead of just asking how their current provider is doing filling their positions, ask them what happens when a critical position goes unfilled. The conversation might go something like this:

You: What challenges are you currently facing with your staffing needs?

Prospect: Our current providers have struggled to get us qualified software developers on time for our projects.

You: I’m sorry to hear that. What impact has that had on your projects and your team?

Prospect: We’ve actually been late starting the last two projects because we didn’t have the talent ready.

You: What happened with those projects?

Prospect: Well, we got them both done on time, but we had to work a lot of overtime to do it.

You: That probably killed your budget, didn’t it?

Prospect: Yes, my manager was not too happy. In the end, we lost money on one of them and barely broke even on the other.

You: What do you think might happen if your next project is late?

Prospect: Ugh. I don’t even want to think about it…..

As you can see in this example, consequence questions enable us to dig deeper than the surface-level issue and help the prospect understand the true ramifications of their issues. By encouraging them to consider the potential consequences, we are able to more effectively move them to action, which ultimately leads to more closed deals and shorter sales cycles.


Looking for a way to  take the guesswork out of goal setting for sales? Then download our free sales tool, the Sales Goals Worksheet.

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