“Because we have always done it that way!”

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Have you ever been in an internal meeting and asked “why do we do that?”, only to receive the response “because we have always done it that way”?  Have you ever heard a prospect say the same thing in response to one of your fact find questions?  In my opinion, this is a very dangerous response.  More importantly, it often presents a great opportunity for improvement and could result in an excellent sales opportunity.  Here’s is a story to illustrate why: 

A young girl was helping her mom cook dinner.  The mom proceeded to cut the ends off the roast and then placed it in the pan.  “Mom, why did you cut the ends off the roast?”  “I am not really sure, dear.” said the mom.  “I saw my mother do it all the time, and now, so do I.  We’ve just always done it that way.  Perhaps you should ask Grandma.”

The next time the girl visited her grandmother she asked, “Grandma, Mom said that you cut the ends off a roast before you placed it in the pan.  Why did you do that?”  “I am not really sure.” replied the grandmother.  “I saw my mother do it and so I did it the same way.  I also taught your mother to do it.  I’ve just always done it that way.  Perhaps you should go ask Great Grandma.”

The first chance she got, the young girl asked her great grandmother, “Great Grandma, why did you cut the ends off a roast before you put it in the pan?”  “It’s quite simple.” replied the elder.  “Once when I was cooking dinner, the roast was too big.  I cut off the ends so it would fit in the pan.” 

Imagine, all those years of throwing out the ends of the roast, generation after generation, only because once it was too big for the pan.  What a waste!  If someone over the years had taken the time to ask, they would have quickly discovered this was a simple problem that could easily be fixed by simply buying a bigger pan. 

The lesson is clear.  The next time you hear “because we have always done it that way” you need to find out why.  If someone in your own company said it, chances are there is a better way of doing things.  If it’s a prospect who said it, you have probably uncovered an excellent sales opportunity to solve a problem the prospect didn’t even know he had.

Just like the young girl in the story, you need to dig deeper, peel back the layers, and find out the real reason you have always done it that way.  Is the reason valid, or are you just cutting the ends off your roasts?

Aim Higher!

Susan A. Enns, B2B Sales Coach from B2B Sales Connections

www.linkedin.com/in/susanenns, www.facebook.com/B2BSalesConnections, or www.twitter.com/SusanEnns

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