Learn to Cross the Chasm for More Sales

A fact of selling today:

Sales organizations experience longer sales cycles with more opportunities dissolving into a no-decision. Sales leaders ask me all the time what to do.

Because I’m in business to help companies grow revenue, I’m preoccupied with solving this problem. In my experience, the breakdown happens in the defining moment of what I call “fix or not fix.”

During the buying journey, the prospect becomes acutely aware of an issue or problem in his or her business that must be fixed.

Along with other buying influences, they spend time in cognition thinking to understand their problem and analyze their current position. At this stage in the journey, they begin to shape a vision for what their solution should look like.  To help them, look at three areas:

  • Discrepancy or perceived value gap
  • Something that’s important or urgent to fix, accomplish or avoid
  • Something that solves their problem

Then, the pivotal moment arrives. And they must ask themselves:

Am I committed or not to fix this problem?

Too many salespeople cross the chasm without getting this commitment; they jump right to their possible solutions for fixing the problem, without working alongside the prospect to help form their vision for a solution.

In my experience, this poorly timed leap causes the majority of no-decisions. The salesperson assumes the prospect sees the need and wants to fix his problem now.

After all, if the salesperson shows the prospect how to save 30 percent on their utility expenses, let’s say, why wouldn’t he want to lower that cost and consider alternative ways to do it?

Sell the Problem First

Some astute thinkers understood this problem long ago:


“When you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night – there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.” – Christopher Morley

“Don’t sell life insurance. Sell what life insurance can do.” – Ben Feldman

“It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It’s that they can’t see the problem.” – G K Chesterton

“The best salespeople know that their expertise can become their enemy in selling. At the moment, they are tempted to tell the buyer what “he needs to do,” they instead offer a story about a peer of the buyer.” – Mike Bosworth, Author of “Solution Selling”


People don’t buy products or services per se; they buy what those products or services will do.


In their attempt to solve their prospect’s problems, many salespeople lose sight of what’s important to their prospect. To stay on point, begin your discussions on the left side of the chasm by identifying with the problems the prospect faces. You’ll be more effective and accelerate the buying journey.

You must know and understand your target audience, their problems, and what they look to fix, accomplish or avoid if you want to sell the solution to the problem, not simply your product.

A caveat:  Before your prospect can see your solution, he must first understand the problem and the consequences attached to not fixing it. As sales professionals, we must make the status quo unsafe.

Don’t Waste Time

If prospects cannot see how their problems could be solved by your offer, you may be wasting your time and resources. And if the problem you are trying to solve isn’t compelling enough, you face a tough road ahead of you.

In short, we must follow the buyer’s decision-making process. Every time one of your prospects makes a buying decision, he or she tends to follow a mental series of predictable and logical steps, outlined in the chart above.

By systematically following this sequence and helping your prospects to follow it, you discover one of two things, either:

a. a solid fit between their needs and your solution exists, or

b. no fit is present, and you should not be doing business together.

Then, you can cross the chasm. I want you to see your defining moment as both a fix or not fix event and a “win fast or lose fast” moment. If you do and act decisively, you will see fewer opportunities lost to no-decisions.

Focus on the end in mind ─ the results they want. Like everyone in business, prospects want results. Only when they believe you will deliver results, and commit to fixing the problem, will they cross the chasm with you to learn more about your product.

If you ignore or work against the commitment stage (fix or not fix the problem), you ensure prospect confusion, resentment and, sooner or later, a lost sale.

Why put yourself through that stress?

See you on the upside,


For more information, go to www.pleinairestrategies.com
Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700


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