Difficulty of Selling a New Idea

About the difficulty of selling something that requires prospects to give up long-held or cherished beliefs.

by Carl Ingalls

I once read an article (by Seth Godin I think) about the difficulty of selling something that requires prospects to give up long-held or cherished beliefs.  The author had only two solutions for this problem.

  • Try to overwhelm them with logic and evidence that proves your idea is better.
  • Try to make your product or idea seem like a less radical departure from what they believe.

There is a third approach that he did not mention, and this is to find people who are already beginning to question their beliefs.

Of course, this is the problem of High Probability Selling.  It is based upon several very radical ideas that contradict very strongly held beliefs.

We already know that persuasion is counterproductive when applied in the prospecting or selling process.  It also appears to be ineffective in the marketing process.  People react negatively to being pushed.  The harder you try to convince someone to change their mind, the less they trust you.

So how do we find people who are already questioning the belief that persuasion is a good way to get people to buy from you?

Post Script:  The article by Seth Godin mentioned in this blog post is “Gravity is just a theory” and was posted on his blog in December 2008.  I have deviated from his original words substantially.

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

6 thoughts on “Difficulty of Selling a New Idea”

  1. “So how do we find people who are already questioning the belief that persuasion is a good way to get people to buy from you?”

    Is it me or does this not make sense?


    1. Busselle,

      I wish I could write so that everything I wrote made sense to every reader. If I could do that, I’d be a brilliant and very successful marketer. But for now, I’ll just have to settle for writing things that make sense to some readers. I’m sorry I missed you on that one.

      Carl Ingalls


  2. we could just ask all sales managers and salespeople if they think persuasion is what is really working for them (if they are successful. It clearly is not working for them – and neither is anything else they are doing – if they are not) and are/have they considered other approaches but I think that is an abrasive approach. We could ask them if they have tested the “persuasion” oriented paradigms they are using but that would also be perceived as a negative judgment on them if they havent or if it didnt occur to them? I think the best approach is an HPS offer that
    tells them about a feature or two of another method (besides “persuasion” – I’m thinking HPS!) or that this other method has helped several companies increase their sales in tough times and is that a method they want (or want to learn)?
    It seems that the whole “persuasion” methodology is wrong in every area, not just sales. We all know the response we get when we try to persuade somebody to change their political or religious beliefs or to get their kid to clean up their room. Trying to persuade somebody is an attack on their self-esteem, self-image, self-respect, pride and ego and is disrespectful of their current abilities and knowledge, makes them feel inferior and makes them feel that the “persuader” thinks of themselves as superior. As for the alleged persuasiveness of repetitive advertising, I dont know.


    1. T Schrade,

      Thank you for your very thoughtful comment. I have read it several times over. I really like the way you have expressed these ideas. Would you consider writing a guest blog article for us on this topic?

      Carl Ingalls


  3. In my opinion and from what I have learned from the HPS System and talking with Jacques Worth It’s simply a matter of sifting. Sifting means exactly what the name implies. We are most productive when we use our time Wisely and find those people that want what we have, can make a decision, will give you an appt and if your meet their needs will buy from you that day.
    We are not good or bad at our jobs if we are not finding prospects with one exception. The HPS Prospecting methodology has a recipe just like baking a cake. You should keep that recipe handy and review it whenever you find yourself falling short of your goals. My personal experience was that if I did not stay even toned I was typically shut down way before I got to “is that something you want?”

    Of course your experiences may be different, the point is, follow the recipe which includes analyzing your results and making the necessary changes.

    With a New Product or Service it needs to be presented in such a way as it meets the needs of the target market you are going after, right? I am a master of the obvious. So, take some time in the evening to work out the best solution your product or service delivers for the needs your target market has and then create your 45 word, or less, script and follow the recipe.

    You may find that your biggest challenge in giving your prospects what they want is they will be skeptical. They have heard this before, be careful, under promise over deliver and follow Jacques Worths Recipe. Do the Trust and Respect Inquiry, it is key, use the Disqualification Questions, Meet their Conditions of Satisfaction and negotiate along the way. NEW product or TRIED AND TRUE OLD SCHOOL PRODUCT, HPS works and works well

    Make it a great day


    1. Rob,

      With a new product or service, I don’t think it is enough for it to merely meet the needs of the target market. I think it also has to appear to meet those needs in a believable way. If the New Idea that is behind the new product or service conflicts with their beliefs, they will not try it.

      Of course, too many things are marketed and sold merely because they are believable, and therefore appear to meet customer’s needs, and yet don’t actually work.

      Carl Ingalls


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