Humans easily become dissatisfied, craving newness. Whether it’s a new car or a new job, we all feel the pull of new things. But while most people like the idea of change, very few actually enjoy the experience of it. More than two-thirds of change implementation efforts fail, and one of the most critical factors causing this failure is employees’ attitudes toward change.
Why is this? It’s simply the way our brains are wired. The status quo bias describes the human tendency to prefer things to stay the same due to inertia or because of a previous decision.
What Is the Status Quo Bias?
The status quo bias is a cognitive bias that’s based on the emotional avoidance of change.
Researchers William Samuelson and Richard Zeckhauser propose that status quo bias is related to loss aversion, the sunk cost fallacy, and cognitive dissonance, making it an extremely powerful instinct. The status quo bias is especially common in the work environment where bad decisions can result in being passed by for a promotion or even the loss of a job.
How to Counter the Status Quo Bias
The good news is that you can use psychology to counter psychology. Here are two highly-effective ways to overcome the status quo bias of your prospects.
People tend to focus on the risks involved in change. But often, the risks associated with doing nothing are, in fact, more damaging. Pointing out the risks in the status quo can help jolt your prospects out of their focus on the risks of making a change. For example, in Sigma’s content designed for the e-commerce vertical, we were careful to point out the “perfect storm” of challenges that online retailers face today, including the inability to keep up with changing consumer preferences and the increasingly-complex buyer’s journey (which Sigma’s analytics tool excels at solving).
Overcome risk aversion by digging into the pain of their status quo
Beyond simply pointing out the risks involved in the status quo, you can add emotional charge by exploring the pain points associated with those risks. Another client example: In content aimed at manufacturers, Snowflake always strategically mentions the high costs of the bottlenecks, interruptions, delays, and waste that can result from failing to use supply chain data efficiently. When compared to these costs, the risk involved in moving to a new data platform that can eliminate them seems minuscule.
Prospects Are Seeking Safety
Ultimately, the status quo bias is about seeking safety. If you can demonstrate to your prospects that they’re actually safer using your product, you’ll be able to overcome their tendency toward inertia.
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