Decisions, decisions, indecisions, indecisions — why?!?
by Jeffrey Gitomer
Published: November 8,2004
What makes people decide?
In sales, that question is way more important than “WHEN will you decide?” BUT the average salesperson always wants to know “when” — without bothering to understand the thought process that goes into the decision — until of course, the prospect says “NO.” THEN salespeople are all over the reasons — or should I say EXCUSES — for not being chosen.
If you know WHAT makes people decide, you can get them to decide — NOW!
NOTE: This assumes you are talking to the REAL decision maker. If you are trying to sell someone who can’t buy, none of this matters.
My “BIG RULE” of sales: If they like you, believe you, have confidence in you and trust you, then they MAY buy from you. What follows is how to change “may” to “mais oui” (“yes” in simpler terms).
The following 9.5 factors influence a decision:
1. What the prospect knows.
2. What the prospect believes (to be true).
3. What the prospect needs.
4. What the prospect wants.
5. What the prospect understands.
6. What the prospect believes he or she can afford.
7. What the prospect’s risk tolerance is.
8. How other people influence the prospect.
9. How comfortable the prospect is (the fit).
9.5 What the prospect’s gut feeling or instinct is.
The decision also carries “outcome” criteria. Before making a decision, the decision maker asks himself…
• What do I believe will happen after I buy this?
• Will I benefit or how will I benefit?
• Will I be better off having made this purchase?
• Will it be better than I expect it will be?
• How will I profit?
• Will I be more productive than I am now?
• Am I getting a fair deal?
• Will others like my decision?
• Will others respect my decision?
NOTE WELL: The word “benefit” is not about YOUR benefit. That’s the silly thing you learned in your “sales training.” I’m referring to THEIR benefits. What’s-in-it-for-them benefits. How THEY benefit will result in the prospect BUYING.
If the buyer is uncertain, uneasy or has a sense of doubt — you will not get a decision. Or — you will get a “no” decision.
Here are a few of the unspoken thoughts the prospect is pondering:
• Will there be a (negative) surprise?
• Will I be ridiculed?
• Will I be blamed if it’s not the right decision?
• Will this put my finances in jeopardy?
• How am I feeling about this?
The salesperson (you) needs to be aware of these decision-making influences and be able to “sense” when there is a swing toward “doubt.” Often referred to as an “objection,” it’s really a “barrier” placed there by the salesperson or the salesperson’s lack of understanding of the prospect’s decision-making process.
“Circumstance” and “outcome” are the two operative words. What is the present decision-making circumstance? And what is the probable purchaser’s expected or desired outcome after the purchase?
And then there is the matter of “urgency.” Salespeople are always moaning about people who keep postponing or delaying the decision but don’t want to hear why.
People delay decisions because they feel there’s no reason to proceed. That’s not a customer problem — that’s a salesperson problem. The salesperson (you) did not provide enough reasons to buy. Hello!
Not making a decision IS making a decision. The buyer decided “no” or “not yet.”
REALITY CHECK: Long sales cycle? NO! Indecisive buyer? Unconvincing salesperson.
GITOMER CHECK: The sales cycle is as long as the salesperson is bad! Beyond your own words and claims, what proof did you provide to create low or no risk reasons to proceed?
CASHIN’ CHECKS: Where are the testimonials? What proof is there to create peace of mind and erase doubt and risk?
SELLER BEWARE: Decision makers often ask others for their opinion. Third-party opinion plays a heavy role in influencing the final decision. Any salesperson who does not offer his or her own third-party opinion — also known as testimonials — is a FOOL.
Testimonials support the decision-making process in a way salespeople cannot. More often, a testimonial will “make” the decision or contribute to it. If you want to see a movie and your next-door neighbor is a movie buff, you’ll ask for her opinion. If she says, “Yes, I saw it and it was one of the worst movies of the decade, “ you won’t go. Even if your neighbor says, “I heard it was lousy, don’t waste your money!” you STILL won’t go. Influencers are just that. They have a GREATER influence on the decision than the person trying to sell. (That would be you!)
Well, what have you learned?
The first lesson is that your selling skills are not as powerful as the probable purchaser’s buying motives. Second, you are grossly unaware of the decision-making process. And third, the person who knows the most about the decision-making process is the most likely to win the sale. Is that you?
Give them what they need, know what makes them decide, help them decide, provide proof, give them peace of mind — and get the check!
GitBit: If you would like a synopsis of this critical process, go to www.gitomer.com — register if you’re a first time user — and enter DECIDE in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail
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