Selling is About Getting Decisions


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One key to selling is understanding your customers as decision-makers.

The most successful sales reps are those people who get the most decisions. Sometimes those decisions are a well-informed, committed NO, and sometimes they are a well-informed, committed YES. So, to help improve your ability to get decisions, this column will focus on understanding your customers as decision-makers.

When your customer goes into decision-making mode, she/he is being influenced by two considerations:

  1. What do I know? This is the logical side of our brain calling up all the data and facts that we have that pertain to the decision at hand.
  2. How do I feel about what I know? This is the emotional side of the decision-making equation.

Each of these considerations will exert some influence in the decision-making process depending on the importance of the decision. A relatively simple decision, like reordering a vaccine, will be dominated by the logical side of our brain (i.e. How many doses do I have on hand? How many do I use in a month?)

However, a more complex decision, like switching vaccine suppliers, will be dominated by the emotions of decision-making (i.e., Am I sure this vaccine is less reactive? Am I comfortable with this manufacturer? How will my customers react?).

The interplay of these two spheres of influence is in every decision and is responsible for your customer’s attitude at any moment during the sales conversation. This dynamic is constantly changing and evolving. The challenge for most salespeople is recognizing the attitude which is not visible. The good news is customers act in identifiable ways when they hold certain attitudes, and that action is visible.

Actions and attitudes

So here are the actions to look for and the attitude they represent.

The action Neglect means your customer is indifferent to your idea. Look for these non-verbal clues – lack of interest, low energy, little or no eye contact, unresponsive, pessimistic, monotone, uncaring, or the lack of any reaction at all.

The action Complain means your customer is troubled by your idea. Look for these non-verbal clues – low energy, sighing, apologetic, tired, slow movements, sees only failures or extreme negative exaggerations.

The action Avoid means your customer sees your idea as risky. Look for these non-verbal clues – indecisive, unsure, hesitant, nervous, fidgety, withdrawn, shy, poor eye contact, short attention span, apprehensive or always looking to postpone deciding.

The action Stop means your customer is opposed to your idea. Look for these non-verbal clues – raised voice, ruthless, biting, righteous, intolerant, blames, threatens, controlling, or uses profanity to intimidate.

The action Challenge means your customer is skeptical of your idea. Look for these non-verbal clues – expresses doubt, contests, debates, argues, forceful, aggressive, unbelieving, win/lose, yes/but, probably born in Missouri (the Show Me State) or disguised as the “devil’s advocate.”

The action of Look/Listen means the customer is open to your idea. When people are open to your idea you will see these non-verbal clues – relaxed, amicable, polite, casual, pleasant, friendly, laid-back, and interested but not intense.

The action of Study means your customer is mildly positive. When people are reserved and in study mode, you will see these non-verbal clues – Positive, pleasant, reflective, analytical, conservative, mildly interested, balancing pluses and minuses, and reserved.

The action of Continue means your customer is interested. When people are interested, they are – involved, have high energy, are questioning, have good eye contact, are cooperative, are constructive, pay full attention, are considerate, and willing to share ideas.

The action of Play means your customer is enthusiastic about your idea. They like the idea and are imagining the implementation, operation, and outcomes. They will display these non-verbal clues – smiling, laughing, high energy, faster speech, eagerness, and enthusiasm.

The action of Commit means your customer has reached confidence and is ready to buy your idea. He or she will display these non-verbal clues – positive, calm, relaxed, decisive, assertive convinced, and have complete self-control.

Since your role is decision-getting, you want every customer to end up with a confident, well-informed decision. You need to know their starting point and each step along the way to develop the appropriate strategy to help them get from where they are to where they want to be.


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