By Brad Jorgensen
It may seem that the idea of having an environmentally-responsible business is a no-brainer. Yet for some people–many of whom could be your future clients–”green” is a four-letter word.
Suppose you’ve come up with a revolutionary way to design office buildings. If your target client were to adopt this design, it would virtually eliminate their company’s harmful impacts on the environment.
You meet with your prospect and deliver a passionate presentation full of charts and graphs, testimonials, and other content you know will serve as a much-needed wake-up call. But before you’re even halfway through, your prospect launches into rhetoric about freedom and the American dream and your liberal-commie-tree-hugging-dirt-munching-druid agenda. End of discussion.
You know if they’d just give you a chance, they’d see this is a win-win investment. But how do you get through to a prospect when they reject you before you can make your case?
For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction
Isaac Newton had it right. And although he was talking about physics, the same idea applies to human nature. If you’re communicating with someone whose beliefs contradict yours, the harder you try to push your point of view on them, the harder they’ll push back. Try reasoning with them and they counter your argument. Try appealing to their emotions and they turn to stone. It’s as if their ego is an ozone layer that protects them from the harmful impacts of opposing ideas.
This holds true whether you’re debating with your spouse about whose turn it is to take out the trash, with a friend about which political candidate deserves your vote, or with a prospective client about whether they should buy from you.
So how do you win this tug-of-war?
By letting go.
If you want to overcome your audience’s resistance, the key is to stop resisting them
These four steps will lead you down the path of least resistance:
- Give them the benefit of the doubt. The battle to save the planet is mired in unwanted stereotypes. On one side are the holier-than-thou environmentalists who will slap the hand of anyone caught throwing a plastic bottle into the wrong container. On the other side, are the greedy corporate bigwigs who will stoop to the lowest depths in the name of profit. When trying to sell a green initiative, instead of jumping to conclusions about your prospect’s motives, assume they have valid concerns. By allowing them this courtesy, you can listen to them with an open mind instead of trying to prove them wrong.
- Listen to them. Through conversation, social media, blogs, and other avenues, connect with your audience and ask them questions that help you dig to the root of their skepticism. Why are they resistant? What led them to feel that way? Perhaps other vendors have tried to sell them cheaply-made equipment at a ridiculous markup in the name of environmentalism. Whatever their reason is, by giving your audience a chance to express their thought process, you don’t just gain insight into where they’re coming from. You show them you care what they think, which helps them become more open to you.
- Find common ground. Make an effort to find areas you agree on. Perhaps you, too, have fallen victim to energy-saving scams from other vendors. If you can speak to your audience as a fellow customer, it’s no longer a you-vs.-them dynamic. Once they realize you can relate to their problems, they’ll have more confidence that you can solve them.
- Speak to their needs, not yours. Your motivation may differ from theirs. While in your mind, your product will help save the environment, they need to know whether it will save them money. Focus on your agenda and you may turn them off. But if you can offer benefits based on what drives their decisions, in the end, you may both get what you want.
“Green” isn’t always black and white
While some people are more than willing to embrace “green” practices, others have developed negative preconceptions about environmentalism. To have a real impact, it’s not enough to only cater your message to like-minded people. You must be able to overcome opposing viewpoints as well.
And with the right approach, you can get through to even the most stubborn of skeptics and truly begin to transform the world through your business.
How do your prospects respond when you try to convince them to go “green?” Share your comments below.
Brad Jorgensen is a copywriter who works with clients that focus on improving the world through their products and services. His free guide, How to Convince Prospects to Try New Things, helps businesses overcome their prospects’ resistance to change and convert them to happy customers.