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Selling Sustainability? Start Here

April 18, 2014

Topics like Sustainability and Climate Change are understandably complicated, but not for the reasons you might expect.   Aside from the scientific, economic and political complexities, people are also often unsure about the pertinence of these topics to their own affairs.  We humans have a finite capacity for worry.  Most people are understandably preoccupied with near term personal, economic, family and daily situations.  If everyone’s Worry Bucket is always full, how do we make room to discuss climate uncertainties, let alone sell sustainability solutions?

The Toughest Sales Job Ever?

call rejectionIs it any wonder, then, that organizations promoting sustainability solutions frequently hit a wall with their audience?   Because of my client involvement, I get almost weekly calls from inside salesreps promoting sustainability solutions.  It frustrates me to hear enthusiastic salespeople routinely commit the same rookie mistake of failing to engage or even listen before presumptuously launching into a spiel.

I suspect the rejection rate and the job turnover are unacceptably high, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Indeed, I wish for their success!  I have helped a number of organizations improve their results in gaining mindshare and market traction.  Our combined experience, aided by the expertise of academic and scientific resources, has led us to conclude that the Sustainability conversation is in fact, er…sustainable.   Difficult conversations, begun well, have the potential to transform and win audiences, but if not begun carefully, they can actually backfire and alienate the audience, and the road back to engagement is arduous.  With so much at stake, we must begin well.

A Way Forward

We have condensed our findings into a series of free training modules, like the one embedded below.  It begins on the topic of  developing a deep understanding of your audience.  Deep understanding goes beyond simply determining whether a person or entity is ready to listen or buy, to discovering exactly what perspective each individual brings to the discussion.  

Make sustainability sustainable (preview) from Ed Alexander

Every graphic and image in this presentation is hyperlinked to its authoritative source so that, in addition to its face value as a training tool, it can also serve as a research guide. If you find it useful either way, you may wish to subscribe to this blog for future chapters and updates.

What unique challenges have you had to overcome in your efforts to engage audiences on sustainability, climate and product issues?  As always, I welcome your questions, comments and contributions. Cheers, Ed

One Comment leave one →
  1. jamesdowd permalink
    July 21, 2015 11:32 am

    This is great stuff! Another issue I’ve found is hitting people over the head with existential calamity makes them shut down. If I can’t do anything, most people will just go “screw it,” and tune out. Focus on the thing you CAN DO TODAY- save a polar bear, save a square acre of rainforest, help a whale, etc.

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