The cost of inaction versus the cost of change: Why sellers lose deals

Belal Batrawy
October 24, 2022
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Listen to Belal Batrawy:

Recently, my Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) were doing an account-based selling motion. One of the SDRs wrote this beautiful, well-worded email that was unfortunately wrong because it missed the context of the product and the customer.

This led me to an invaluable lesson on how SDRs need to reach out to accounts. As simple as this sounds, it took me four and a half years to understand.

The cost of change

Imagine for a moment you are selling iPhones and have two customers in front of you, both of whom use Android phones. Would these two be similar prospects?


Here’s why. The first customer only has an Android phone, nothing else. The second customer has a Google nest. Their phone, TV, car, thermostat, wifi, and even the light switches in their house are connected to Google.

The cost of change for them to change from Android to iPhone is exceptionally high.

The first customer is just switching from one phone to another without changing the entire ecosystem making his cost of change extremely low.

When getting into a selling motion, when talking to somebody that uses one of your competitors, here is the first thing you need to figure out:

What is the cost of change for the buyer?

If the cost of change is very high, as with the entire Google ecosystem built into their house, changing the phone is out of the question. They won’t switch even if the iPhone tomorrow comes with Augmented Reality.

It’s too much to change for very little gain.

However, the iPhone is an excellent choice if the customer simply wants to get their hands on that fantastic piece of tech without changing the entire ecosystem.

The cost of change versus the cost of inaction is the sole battle in a ‘Rip and Replace.’

How to get rip and replace right

How should your email sound when dealing with people who already use one of your competitors?

At GTM Buddy, our competitors are Highspot, Showpad, and Seismic. When speaking to an enabler – VP, Director, or Senior Director of Enablement – my first question gets straight to that point.


I notice you guys use Highspot. It’s a pretty good product overall, but sometimes I hear seller adoption is really low, and sellers view it like a glorified G drive.

How’s your experience?

Keep it simple

I’m not talking about GTM buddy, our features, our benefits, how we compare, or why they should look at switching.

Do they think getting off Highspot is impossible? Have they spent the last nine months setting it up?

If they aren’t sure about changing, nothing I have to say about GTM Buddy will make them switch. However, if the prospect is:

  • Seeing problems with the existing solution
  • Not impressed with the results it’s giving them
  • Thinking about potentially switching

Then you can dive into the features, the benefits – the cool stuff.

But, the first thing you need to address is, “Is the cost of change too high?”

Sellers, Sharks, and Context

This ties back to how elite sellers operate versus average sellers. I always picture lazy sharks swimming at the bottom of the ocean when I think of elite sellers. Here’s why:

  • Masters in conserving energy
  • Don’t want to deal with people who won’t buy
  • Smaller pipelines
  • Exponentially better numbers than their peers

Getting back to my SDR, they were utterly convinced by the email they had written detailing the features and benefits of GTM buddy. They had used the right language – it was all about what GTM Buddy could do for them and how it was special. It was a solid email, except for the context.

That buyer was already with one of our competitors. The SDR had not yet determined whether the buyer was willing to make a change.

Start at square one.

  1. Does your prospect like your competitor or not?
  2. Here are some reasons why we hear people don’t like them — Do any of those resonate with your prospect?

Because if they don’t, you got nothing.

The cost of change is too high. You won’t be able to make a sale, and you just saved yourself three weeks of chasing this person just to hear that they are not interested.

Or even worse, not hearing from them and getting ghosted.

If you go for the jugular and see if they can acknowledge that the cost of change for them would be high, you’ve got something.

Strong bones and cookie monsters

Back in the eighties, when milk sales were declining, they came up with an ad that said, “Milk gives you strong bones.”

This did nothing for milk sales; nobody cared.

They hired a master marketer and started surveys and focus groups. In one focus group, a gentleman pointed out how the other day, he headed downstairs and grabbed his favorite cereal. He poured it into the bowl, looked into the fridge, and realized there was no milk. Everybody in the room chuckled because they knew how that felt.

This was the marketer’s light bulb moment, resulting in one of the most iconic advertisements ever – ‘Got milk?’

Got milk?

Milk sales shot through the roof! Why? It wasn’t about the benefits of milk, nothing about how delicious milk tastes or why you should have it.

It was about the lack of the product, not the product itself.

What is your superpower?

It’s all about what it’s like not to have milk at a moment when milk would be just right. It’s all about the absence of a superpower. When selling ‘Net New’, you must have the same mindset.

  1. What does my product do that they don’t have today?
  2. By not having it, what’s the problem with the status quo?

Stop talking about why your product is great, how it helps, or why you need it while being a helpful seller.

No such thing as a helpful seller

I know this is not what you typically hear, but trying to be a helpful seller is an oxymoron.

A seller is not on the same side of the table as a buyer.

The buyer-seller relationship is one of conflict and competing interests. Don’t try to be helpful, instead

  • Try to be provocative
  • Encourage curiosity and thought in your buyer

Information is readily available today, which means when someone gets to the point where they need to deal with a seller, there’s already some buying intent. That’s what you want to catalyze because nobody wants help from their seller.

For instance, GTM Buddy allows marketers and enablers to see when a seller customizes content and shares it with their buyer and if the buyer engages with it.

Let’s be real here, my buyers don’t care about this feature.

I do the opposite.

I reach out to people and say,

“We have memes, GIFs, and all this visual prospecting we do. Within this, we talk about this joke that sellers share content from two years ago, thinking it’s the freshest!”

  • Does this ring a bell?
  • Does this resonate?
  • Has this happened to you before?

There will be a group of people who say, “No. We’re good.”

Ask them how they solved the problem.

Most people I speak with haven’t figured this out, but many laugh and tell me this is their life. Ask them:

  • Are you interested in addressing this?
  • Is this a priority right now for you to look at?

It’s asking, “Got milk?” instead of saying, “Milk gives you strong bones.”

For instance, at Fullstory, many of our customers didn’t have a session replay tool like what we sold. They relied on Google Analytics, and I knew it couldn’t do some things our product could. One of them was recognizing rage click. We would tell people,

Hey, have you ever been on a website so terrible, that you found yourself slamming your mouse in frustration, clicking all over the screen? That is a rage click.

Do you have a way to see if people are rage-clicking on your product today?

  • Some would answer yes. If they said yes, I’d ask them to tell me how because I knew they didn’t have a way.
  • Some would say no. In this case, I’d ask if they would be interested in checking out how they could.

Now, I’m talking about the absence of a superpower that could make a big difference for my buyer, impress them, and make them better if they have it.

You might be nodding your head right now, thinking that sounds easy.

It isn’t.

Cursed by Knowledge

I think about GTM Buddy eight hours a day, sometimes even longer. I don’t shut off after 5:00 PM. I try to, but it’s still in my head. I am lucky if my buyer thinks about GTM Buddy for 30 minutes in the entire month I’m prospecting them.

Cursed by knowledge!

My knowledge and obsession and the time and commitment I’m putting into it are exponentially higher than my buyers’. It’s difficult to dumb down what you know to the level of your buyer, who knows next to nothing about you or your product.

However, they know they’ve got issues left, right, and center, and maybe one or a couple of those are something your product can solve.

Are those problems significant enough that they’re willing to give you time, attention, and money to handle them?

That’s why you talk about superpowers. Here is how you can go about it:

  1. Here is the lack. (Make a meme!)
  2. Here’s what my product does.
  3. I know it does this well because when people don’t have my product, they’re stuck with ______ (specific to your product or service)
  4. How do you handle what happens when ______?

Bonus points if you can make it visual through memes that can evoke an emotion from them, and they connect with it.

Cost of Inaction versus Cost of Change

Keep these two simple frameworks in mind. You might have scenarios where you’re doing a ‘Rip and Replace’ or being ‘Net New’. Some companies may already have a competitor. Some don’t.

In the case of the former, research helps me get into the rip-and-replace mindset. In the latter case, I am taking advantage of the fact that they are lacking a superpower that could help them win the battles ahead.

Pique their curiosity and see if they’re willing to engage.

As a sales rep, you need to take the feature or set of features for which your product or service is known. You need to ask what happens if they don’t have this.

It is what happens when you don’t have milk. You’re sitting there with a bowl of cereal or a pile of cookies you want to eat but can’t fully enjoy.

Here is my template!

It took me four and a half years to figure this out.

I have lost a lot of deals in the time since then. But, now that I realize it, I can see why I was getting ghosted, why I was wasting my time, why people weren’t responding, or when they were, they were telling me they weren’t interested.

Now, I know when to move on and when to pitch.

About the author


Belal Batrawy

Belal Batrawy is Head of GTM for GTM Buddy and community leader at DeathtoFluff. He has experience being on the founding sales team for eight companies now.

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