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Seller needs to know how customers make decisions


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 to 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” (“but of course,” that is).

The following 9.5 factors influence a decision:

1. What the prospect knows.

2. What the prospect believes.

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.

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 or herself:

• 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?

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?

You need 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.

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?

Cashing 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 opinions play a heavy role in influencing the final decision. Any salesperson who does not offer his or her own third-party opinions — also known as testimonials — is a fool.

Testimonials support the decision-making process in a way salespeople cannot. More often than not, 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 their opinion. If they say, “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.

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!

Free 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 can be reached by phone at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com.

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