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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

The Problem with Shifting a Worldview

Some people will never believe what you sell has value.

Every single person I know has core beliefs. Over time, these beliefs become distinct worldviews – specific philosophies for seeing and understanding the world that won’t shift despite attempting to do so. For example, here are a few of my worldviews:

  • Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone

  • Van Halen is the greatest American rock band

  • The U.S. version of “The Office” is much better than the British one

  • -insert year here- is THE year for my Texas Rangers (said on every opening day since 1977)

  • Batman is cooler than Superman and always will be

  • The best venue for live music is the Ryman Auditorium

  • Whataburger will always be better than In-N-Out Burger

Using the last one as an example, I’ve had countless people extol the virtues of In-N-Out Burger to me for years. They tell me about the cleanliness of the restaurants, the exclusive use of fresh ingredients, and the not-so-secret menu as if they have found hamburger nirvana. I’ve visited In-N-Out Burger many times, and their food is decent, but it’s not – nor will it ever be – the greatness that is Whataburger. I grew up in Texas, which means I love Whataburger, and no argument will sway my worldview: I will always prefer Whataburger (and their spicy ketchup) to In-N-Out Burger.

In other words, it’s truly a waste of time for someone to try and convince me that In-N-Out Burger is superior to Whataburger – my worldview simply won’t shift.

Regarding sales, there will always be prospects with specific worldviews that won’t move. I’ve had the good fortune of working with tremendously talented salespeople in my career, but many are under the incorrect impression that their main job is to convince people to buy their products or services. The truth is the most successful salespeople are in the business of identifying who does and does not believe their products or services will bring value.

If a prospect has a firm worldview that what you sell – whether it be aluminum siding, hamburgers, marketing services, or promotional products – has no value to them, they will not buy from you. Not today, not tomorrow, and not next month. Therefore, to spend valuable time on fancy presentations, carefully constructed emails, or countless unreturned phone calls on this type of prospect is wasted.

Shifting someone’s worldview is a daunting and ultimately useless exercise. Just like no one will change my worldview that Whataburger is superior to In-N-Out Burger, trying to convince someone who is resolute in their belief that there is no value in what you sell is a fruitless undertaking.

Remember, as a salesperson, your first job is to find the people who believe in what you sell and focus on them – period.

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