Marketing and Sales: The Secret of Stuck

By |2020-03-07T11:15:10+10:00March 6th, 2020|Categories: Leadership|

Marketing and Sales: The Secret of Stuck

This is the third article in a 3-part series on marketing and sales. In the first article, we considered marketing and sales as engaging in the first two steps of the change process. In the second article, we considered the importance of good communications to help prospects make forward progress through the two steps. In this article, we consider how to help prospects who get stuck.

Stuck Is Normal

You should understand that getting stuck within a step of the change process is not uncommon and it’s quite normal. We will consider some of the main reasons for it in a moment, but you should understand one thing.

Stuck threatens your sale. If you can’t help prospects move out of stuck, they will not convert into clients – at least not yet. So, do what you can to get them unstuck.

Reasons for Stuck

There are 3 main reasons why a prospect might get stuck in one of the 2 steps of the change process. These are:

  • Low trust
  • Fear
  • Confusion

Let’s consider these one by one.

Low Trust – the prospect doesn’t trust you enough and this becomes an obstacle to them. If they don’t trust you, they may not like you, warm to you, feel connected to you, or listen to what you say. They may feel like you want to take advantage of them, or that you’re trying to sell them something that’s good for you, but not for them.

You really need to work on this.

Fear – even if prospects trust you, they may not trust themselves. People have a lot of performance anxiety. Can I do this? Am I good enough? It’s okay for him, but I’m not like him. What if I spend a lot of money and fail? What will other people think? I’m not confident enough to put myself forward. 

Everyone has fears, and it’s okay to have them. But we need to understand what to make of them. Most of the time our fears are based on our imaginations rather than the facts of our circumstance. We fear things we haven’t done yet and we fear what might happen. We undersell ourselves, question our ability, think negatively, and worry too much about what other people will think of us. Other people are probably too busy thinking about themselves to care much about us.

You need to help the prospect handle these fears. Tell them you’ll be there to offer support, or tell them where they can find support elsewhere. Offer them a full refund if they decide that working with you was a bad idea. Do things to help take away their fear.

In reality, what they should be more afraid of is getting stuck and staying stuck.

Confusion – some prospects get confused because their heart says one thing and their head says something else. Or they get too many facts and then get confused. You job is to cut through the confusion and to bring clarity.

You first need to understand why they are confused. Don’t guess – ask them. And then think about how to overcome their confusion in ways they can understand. Remember your audience.

If you find there is a lot of confusion with your prospects, you may well have a communication problem, or perhaps you are not sure what you’re offering. If you come across clear and confident, it’s less likely your prospects will be confused.


Expect to get some objections. If you don’t handle objections effectively, your prospects will get stuck or go elsewhere. Here are some common objections:

  • It’s too expensive
  • I need more time to think it over
  • I want to talk it over with a friend
  • I need to look at other options

Some people are more risk averse than others, and this could be why they make these objections. But ask yourself these questions. Do they know what they really want? Do they see that your solution will give it to them? Do they trust you? Do they have a sense of urgency about the solution? Do they fully understand how good your offering is?

Often, objections like these say more about you than about the prospect. They say you need to do a better job of leading the prospect through the two steps of change.


I don’t want to be too hard on you – it’s not easy. Believe me, I know this stuff, but that doesn’t mean I actually do it all the time. I do it some of the time, and when I do, it works.

I want to help you understand that marketing and sales are about helping people change. You can think of them in terms of the psychology or marketing or sales, but I prefer to think of them in terms of the psychology of change. To change in a way that advantages them – and you too. There’s nothing wrong with a win-win.

I hope these ideas help. If so, drop me a line and let me know.

Written By Steve Barlow

Steve is a change fitness coach and change readiness trainer and consultant. If you would like some help with any of the ideas presented in this blog, please book a free consultation with Steve.

Marketing & Sales: The Secret of the Stories

By |2020-03-07T10:51:42+10:00March 6th, 2020|Categories: Leadership, Uncategorized|

Marketing & Sales: The Secret of the Stories

This is the second article in a 3-part series on marketing and sales, taken from the perspective of change and change readiness. In the first article, we considered that the two steps of the marketing and sales process and the goals of each step. In this article, we examine how to use communication to move a prospect towards becoming your client.

In the previous article, we considered the imperative to move prospects into greater awareness of their needs and desires, and then move them towards making the decision to work with you. We noted a list of things prospects do in these two steps of the change process. Your job is to help them to move forward and one way you can do that is through targeted communications. Here are some ideas.

Be Clear About Your Prospects’ Needs and Desires

You need to think this through and do some research. What problems do your prospects have and how do these limit them? What does it feel like to have these problems? If they could change their current reality, what would they change it to? What would they eliminate?

If you aren’t clear about issues like these, your communications will be ineffective, and no one will pay attention to you.

Be Clear About How You Can Satisfy Their Needs and Wants

Your product or service may or may not provide a total solution, but it may go a long way towards one. But you must be clear about how it does that. Again, if you are unclear of this, your communications will suffer.

Craft Your Messages

Here are some guidelines to help you with that:

  • Audience – who is the message intended for? You need to speak to a clearly defined avatar, not some general notion of a ‘good prospect’.
  • Purpose – what outcome do you want from your message? Are you raising awareness? Answering a FAQ? Trying to persuade? Asking the prospect to take some action? If you’re not clear about the purpose, the message will be random, and you won’t be able to evaluate its effectiveness.
  • Vocabulary – you need to use words that are relevant to your intended audience. Use words they would use. If you don’t know what that is, do some research.
  • Register – we’re talking about how formal or informal you should pitch your language. This needs to be appropriate to your intended audience.
  • Tone – this refers to your attitude towards your audience and the topic of the message. It could be respectful, sensitive, playful, satirical, cynical, professional, etc. This will come through your message, so make sure you get it right to impact your audience in the way you want.
  • Content – these are the ideas you want to communicate. What do you want to say to your audience? Be very clear about this. Make sure your message ends up saying what you want it to say.
  • Medium – how will you communicate your message? Through a blog post, a Facebook ad, a video on YouTube, a page on your website?
  • Structure – This is how you shape your message through the medium you choose. Make sure the structure of your message is appropriate for the medium. For example, if it’s a blog post, structure it in short sections with multiple headings.

Position Your Solution

Think about how to get across the idea that you have the solution to the prospect’s problem. What makes your solution better than others? Why should they pick you rather than someone else? What unique features can you offer? What are the key features and benefits of your solution?

Think of how you can communicate these messages to your prospects.

Empower Your Language

You want your prospect to believe you have the right solution and they can be successful at it. So, use language that builds up their confidence and belief in themselves. Be realistic about it – if your solution is that good and you can see how it would work for the prospect, let them know it. People often second doubt themselves, but you can help them make a firm decision.

Focus on Benefits

The solution you’re offering may cause some anxiety to the prospect. Remember, if they knew how to solve their problem on their own, they wouldn’t be coming to you. So, in addition to using empowering language, get the prospect to focus on the benefits of your solution. Get them to think about how great it will be when clients are lined up waiting to do business with them, or when they are travelling to an exotic destination.

Support Your Prospect

Support the prospect, but don’t smother them. Lead them towards a decision to work with you, but don’t make them feel like you’re pushing them.

Ask Lots of Questions

Lots of open-ended questions. Ask them what they want to achieve, how much they want it, when they want it, how much they intend to spend, when they want it by, etc. If you ask, they will tell. If they don’t tell, there’s a problem with trust and you need to work harder.


Powerful communication is a tool to keep prospects moving forward through the two steps of change. In the next article, we consider what to do if they stop moving forward.

Written By Steve Barlow

Steve is a change fitness coach and change readiness trainer and consultant. If you would like some help with any of the ideas presented in this blog, please book a free consultation with Steve.

Marketing & Sales: The Secret of the Steps

By |2020-03-07T10:35:25+10:00March 6th, 2020|Categories: Leadership|

Marketing & Sales: The Secret of the Steps

This is the first article in a 3-part series on marketing and sales form a change perspective. If you’re in the early stages of building a business, chances are you have some marketing and/or sales challenges. Even if you’re employed by someone else, I bet you are still involved in marketing or sales in some ways.

Full disclosure: I am not a marketing or sales professional. And you won’t hear what I’m about to share with you from most marketing or sales professionals. Not because they don’t know it, but because they haven’t thought about it in the same way.

I don’t think about marketing or sales like a marketer or salesperson. I think about it as a change specialist. And that makes a lot of difference. Let me explain.

Marketing and sales are two distinct disciplines. They are areas of expertise practised by subject-matter specialists. But they are also a means to an end. A business doesn’t really want a great marketing campaign or a top gun salesperson. What they want is more customers, more clients.

So, if we want more clients, we must recognise what that means. First, it means we need to find good prospects. What’s a good prospect? It’s someone who has a need that your product or service will satisfy. And second, it means getting that person to change from what has been normal – not being your client – to what is new, becoming your client.

And it’s that change journey that interests me.

In this article, I want to help you understand how to lead a prospect along that change journey by knowing the goal of each step. In the second article in this series, I want to show you how to move a prospect along the change journey through targeted communications. And in the third article, I want to show you how to lead a prospect along the change journey by overcoming obstacles that can get them stuck.

The Change Process

You need to understand that the change process has 5 steps. We are only interested in the first two steps – those are the two that are most relevant to marketing and sales. Before we consider the different goals of the first two steps, we need to think about what is possible for a prospect on each of these steps. There are three possible outcomes for each step.

  • The prospect can complete a step and then move forward to the next one
  • The prospect can get stuck on a step, unable to make any progress
  • The prospect can find a step too challenging, give up, and go backwards

In the broadest sense, your job is to help the prospect achieve the first of these three possible outcomes.

The Goals

Let’s think about the goals you should have for the prospect in the first two steps of the change process. The goal of the first step is to lead the prospect towards awareness. The goal of the second step is to move the prospect towards commitment. These should be your goals because these are what the first two steps of the change process are all about.

Towards Awareness – the prospect needs a growing awareness of their need. It could be that something is no longer working for them and they are increasingly out of step with their lived reality. This might cause them pain – either physical pain or psychological pain. They might have a sense that something’s wrong, or things aren’t quite right.

The prospect needs to become aware that there’s a better reality out there, waiting for them. This better reality may be expressed as something they want, something that will put them back in sync with their lived experience. Something that will remove that unnerving feeling that something is wrong.

Without an awareness of need, the prospect can’t make any further progress with change. Your job is to help them become aware of their need with as much clarity and emotion as you can get from them. Get them talking about what’s wrong and how it impacts their life. Ask them to think about life without this problem – how would it be better, what would they be able to do, how would they feel, etc. Help them get in contact with these two realities – the unsatisfactory nature of their current reality and the wonderful reality that will unfold once the problem has been solved.

I think it is fair to say that creating awareness of problems and solutions is largely a marketing task. You put out messages designed to relate to the needs and desires of your target market. Good prospects are people who relate to those messages – “Yes, that applies to me. That is exactly how I feel, and I want those things you describe.” And because they relate to those messages, they are naturally inclined towards what you have to say.

Towards Commitment – this is the Step 2 goal and I believe it is largely a sales goal. To be effective, it’s important to understand what people do in Step 2. Here are some of the things they do:

  • Weigh whether the solution is worth the effort 
  • Consider whether the solution offered is the right one for them
  • Consider the pros and cons of the offered solution
  • Decide whether they have the capacity to make it happen
  • Deal with feelings of uncertainty and insecurity
  • Talk to someone who realistically understand their anxieties and will help them come to a decision
  • Assess who they can trust to guide them
  • Get excited about a future where their problem is solved

This is what people do in Step 2 – they think through the offered solution and decide what to do about it. Some can do this well, and others struggle with it. But, at the end of Step 2, the prospect will decide (make a commitment). They will decide either to accept your solution, or to reject it.

An Example

John began his coaching business 6 months ago and is yet to attract his first fee paying client. He is aware of his marketing problem and he is very worried about it. He worries he won’t be able to pay his bills and his business will fail. But he can also imagine himself as a successful coach. He can picture a waiting list of clients, being busy every day and feeling he is really making a difference. He can imagine having the lifestyle that goes with success – taking holidays to exotic locations, driving a nice car, providing good things for his family.

John is lucky because he knows what’s wrong. Some people haven’t identified that yet. Either way, your job is to help them get connected – emotionally and rationally – with their present reality and the reality they long for.

Let’s say in this example that you operate a marketing business helping coaches get more clients. You create a piece of content and John sees it. This content speaks directly to John’s problem. You sound like you might have a solution that could help him. The result is that he emails you.

The fact that John has emailed you means he has moved from Step 1 into Step 2. He has moved from simply being aware of his reality to wanting to think through the solution you offer. Never underestimate the magnitude of that step.

Now that John is in Step 2, your job is to help him move towards becoming your client. But to do that, he needs to trust you and to know you understand him. He needs to be sure your solution will work, and you need to help him overcome his concerns and answer his questions. If you can do all those things, he is likely to become your client. Step 2 is largely a sales role.

How can you help John along this process? Ask questions, explore, dig. Ask ‘why’. And keep asking. And when you think the prospect is fully aware of and in touch with their problem or opportunity, move them through Step 2.

In Step 2 you move the prospect towards commitment. Commitment towards solving their problem and grasping the opportunity. And commitment to letting you help them do that. At the end of Step 2 you want them to make the decision to become you client.


In this article, we have considered the first things you need to understand about marketing and sales. For your prospect, they mean engaging in the first two steps of the change process.  The better you understand exactly what that means for the prospect, the more likely you are to convert them into a client. If you need help exploring what your prospects need to do and how you can help them do it, reach out to me and I will help.

In the next article in this series, we consider how you can use effective communications to move the prospect through awareness and into commitment.

Written By Steve Barlow

Steve is a change fitness coach and change readiness trainer and consultant. If you would like some help with any of the ideas presented in this blog, please book a free consultation with Steve.

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