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The Sales Review

Emerging best practices, strategies and insights on how to engage the modern buyer.

No One Ever Got Fired for Buying IBM

Posted by Amar Sheth on Mar 26, 2014 12:58:54 PM

No One Ever Got Fired For Buying From IBMHave you heard the saying 'No one ever got fired for buying IBM'?

It was a popular one in the business world, used to describe how IBM was always considered the “safe bet”. If a company executive had to make a choice between proposals from different vendors, the one from IBM would be a smart choice. Why? Because it wouldn’t ruffle any feathers or raise any eyebrows.

No one questions things being done the same old way.

IBM = Status Quo?

As you can plainly gather, I use IBM here as a stand-in for anything that’s status quo. IBM today is a much different organization than it used to be. They’re innovators in many areas.

Despite the massive progress at IBM (a company that no one said could innovate), what hasn’t innovated is the mindset of us as buyers. We'd still prefer the ordinary even when presented with the extraordinary.

Who Would Question Status Quo?

Most of us would prefer running from the tough choices. We seek out the safe bets. If you’re picking a new vendor for instance, you don’t want to rock the boat too much.

No One Ever Got Fired For Buying IBM

So you opt for the “safe bet” and then justify it the following ways. Tell me if these sound familiar:

  • If they drop the ball, another vendor would have really dropped the ball. I better cover myself.
  • I’m going with the Mercedes of solutions here. I’m paying a premium for the protection.
  • I can’t guarantee a smooth sailing experience with another vendor.

While these are great reasons for the business, here are the real underlying psychological reasons.

  • I’d rather not stand out.
  • I’d prefer doing what the last person in my role did. Or maybe change as little as possible to make some sort of a difference.
  • Innovation? I don’t have time for it. I’d rather focus on keeping my job by sticking to the company-approved checklist.

No One Ever Got Fired for Cold Calling

Most sales leaders today really don’t want to innovate. Would you agree? From our perspective, we see sales leaders bogged down with meeting targets. They don’t want anything else distracting them from that: including the way they find and nurture potential buyers.

That’s understandable, of course, but should it be at the cost of helping achieve your targets?

This is why they’d rather continue with cold calling training and play it safe.

The Bottom Line

Are you playing it safe with your prospecting and nurturing? If you’re still doing the same things as you were 10 years ago (even 5 years ago), chances are you’re missing out on a great opportunity to have more conversations with your potential buyers.

Isn’t that what sales is about? Having more relevant, timely and value-driven conversations is actually far more achievable with social selling than most other mediums. I’m not encouraging you to give up cold calling; I’m encouraging you to consider stepping out of your status quo.

Let’s not make the next decade have any corporate sayings like, 'No one ever got fired for buying IBM'.

Are you ready to innovate? Book some time in my calendar and let's get started.


Amar Sheth

About the Author

Amar Sheth has trained thousands of people worldwide on the topic of Social Selling, through a style that’s part storytelling and part motivational.

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