Creating Urgency Through Cost of Inaction

coi vs ROI

“When the pain of the same is greater than the pain of change, a client will switch”


Meaning, the customer won’t be motivated to buy into your solution if the pain of doing nothing is less than the pain of changing. The pain of doing nothing could be in the form of  lost opportunities, revenue streams, cost reductions, etc. 



This is why we end up losing a lot of deals – because we haven’t created enough ‘mental pain’ for the customer by showing them what they’re losing out on by staying the same. 



Remember: people move twice as fast away from pain as they do towards a gain. So if you have only demonstrated the gains, they won’t move as fast and a deal may die on the vine.



For example, when we present ROI to a client, that is demonstrating a gain; if you buy X, you will get $XX in return. ROI is all upside. 


There’s another side to the coin; Cost of Inaction (COI). The COI is a pain, so your clients will move twice as fast. Cost of inaction is what they’re losing by staying the same, and doing nothing. 


Demonstrating the ROI is still a great way to demonstrate the value of your product. AND by adding the COI, you’re doubling your efficacy in persuading a client to act. 


Before we get into how to effectively weave this element of urgency into your presentation, we have to understand how aware buyers are that there is a problem in the first place. 


The first level is:


Unaware: They don’t even know there’s a problem. This stage is less selling and more education about what they’re missing out on or could improve upon. 


Aware but don’t care: “We know XYZ is bad BUT” “We know we need this BUT”

This is where we need to push them to the next step and close the deal.  This is also where we usually depend too heavily on ROI, and as we now know, COI is how we add urgency to a presentation. 


Part 2: The Structure of the COI


The structure of a COI and how i use it in sales calls. 


COI = (Present cost of inaction + the future cost of inaction)/ Opportunity Cost.


When I am talking to a client who is interested in my sales training, I usually get the objection: 


“that’s more than I expected to pay”


“I don’t think it’s expensive, can I ask you a question?”




“What is your average deal size?”


Let’s say they say it’s about $10,000.

Their conversion rate is about 30%/ month. 


(This means they’re leaving $70,000 on the table PER month)


Then I ask, “how many salespeople do you have?”


Let’s say they have 20 salespeople. If we get each of those 20 salespeople 1 more deal/ month, that’s $200,000 they’re leaving on the table every month. Every month you don’t hire me ( or someone like me ) you’re losing $200, 000/ month. 


“Mr. Customer, if we can get your salespeople to close 1 more deal/ month, would that impact your business?”


I am showing the customer how much he is losing by not taking action. 


This is already powerful enough, but let’s take it one step further to really drive the point home. 


Opportunity Costs:


  1. Because you’re not closing 1 deal every month, we’re leaving at least one referral on the table“

What would you put as the estimated value per referral?”

  1. Because you’re missing out on customers, you’re also missing out on future upselling opportunities. What’s the average lifetime value for a customer?

What we’re doing here is ‘stacking’ the pain:  they’re losing deals, they’re losing revenue opportunities, and upselling/cross-selling opportunities. 



“What you can’t afford is to do nothing, when should we start training?”


If you can make the pain and the numbers real to them, it creates urgency and deep pain to see the tangible negative numbers. If you have this as part of your presentation as part of your close, you’re blocking the price objection and you’ll see a lot less resistance at the end.

Learn more on Sales Velocity Academy


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