What should we do when a customer says they’re “happy” with their current supplier?

One quick retort that you could give is:

“I’m glad you’re happy with your current supplier. But Mr. Customer, in business isn’t it always good to have options? All I’m offering here is an option. If someday down the road, hopefully not, but if you do need an option, I want you to know about our product.” And then you jump into your presentation.

So, by simply making them acknowledge that having options is not a bad idea, it opens them up to listen to your presentation. 

But what is actually going on inside that customer’s brain?

Well, we all know about the iceberg analogy. What it basically says is we can only see a small portion of the iceberg while the majority of it is under the water. Customers are like icebergs!

Sometimes they say that they’re happy with their current supplier because it’s an automatic response. They may also say things like “now it’s not a good time” or “I like your offering but it’s not in our budget” or “what we have now is good enough!”

These are the things they’re saying logically to you. Logical excuses of why they don’t want to change. But like the iceberg, let’s look at what’s below the surface; what’s below the consciousness of the buyer. What are the psychological excuses they’re using?

There are three reasons why customers will push back. If we could address all three of these issues, we’re more likely to change their mind when we respond with “in business isn’t it always good to have options…”

1.    The brain experiences pain when it has to change. The brain is risk-averse. It doesn’t want to change. Most people would rather do nothing and get it wrong than do something and get it wrong! It’s because when they do something and get it wrong, they get buyer’s remorse. So, there’s pain associated with the possibility of being wrong. 

The first thing we should do is to empathize with the customer. Let them know that we know it’s hard to make a change. We’ve been there, we’ve done that. “Mr. Customer, I understand that change is very hard. It is for all of us. But in the long run, if I could show you the benefits of my product or service, you’ll learn that the brain pain you have now is nothing compared to what could happen if you don’t do anything.”

2.    They’re magnifying the effort. In other words, they’re thinking that this change is going to require a lot of time and effort. In their brain they’re magnifying how much time and effort this is going to cost them. This is mostly because of their past experiences. They may have a bad experience last time they changed something over. 

You need to make them feel good about working with you. Let them know how smooth this is going to be. Our job is to minimize the perceived effort and how long it’s going to take.

3.    The customer is thinking how this is going to impact their business. How would this change change things and by how much? Most probably they’re thinking negatively about the possible outcomes. 

Our job is to present case studies. “We work with customers just like you. In a similar set-up, in a similar industry, the same workflow. Here’s what we did for them and here’s how it worked. Here’s phase one, here’s phase two and so on. Not a big deal. We’re used to doing this type of work.”

And then if you really want their brain to calm down, offer some kind of guarantee.

In summary, when you’re presenting to a customer and they say they’re happy with their current supplier, you should make them acknowledge that it’s always good to have options and that’s all you’re offering. You should then deal with the underlying, psychological reasons why they’re reluctant to make a change:

  1. Change is painful.
  2. The brain magnifies the required effort.
  3. The possible outcome is negative.


By Ali Reza Yazdian - Global Marketing Manager of SerialTrading.com

Adopted from Victor Antonio's Sales Influence podcast series