When people make decisions, they base them on a number of factors, some logical and some emotional.
We know this somewhat intuitively. Yes, we take deliberate steps like weighing pros and cons, comparing costs, etc. -- but, we also sprinkle in a bit of intuition and desire to satisfy our “want” for a certain thing.
Here’s an example: It’s time to buy a house. I’m first going to determine what I’m looking for -- number of bedrooms, an updated kitchen, an easy-to-maintain yard, and so on -- and begin scouring listings.
I’ll read a lot of reviews about neighborhoods, talk to my friends about where they live, look at tons of pictures, and carefully consider the initial and monthly investment in making my decision of which house to buy.
Those are all logical factors. I’ll ultimately choose the house that makes me feel “at home” the moment I walk into it. That’s an emotional factor. Decision-making is always comprised of both.
Regardless of what decision we make, there is a process involved in making them and criteria that need to be satisfied.
Using my home buying example, my process would be to make a list of other houses I’ve owned and enjoyed. My personal favorites are my current home in North Carolina and the last house we owned in Connecticut before moving south. I’ve really loved them both.
Next, I’d identify the criteria that are important to me. My criteria for a house include location, physical condition, the features I mentioned above, price, and personal feel.
My point in sharing this is that your customers go through the same decision-making process and steps in satisfying criteria when they evaluate you as a potential vendor as you do when making a personal decision.
Success in sales requires an understanding of your customers’ decision-making process and their decision-making criteria. How certain are you that your sales team understands them both?
The truth is, most salespeople do not know the difference between their prospects' decision-making process compared with their decision-making criteria. What’s worse, they often fail to ask.
Data from my partner organization, Objective Management Group, reveals:
Only 27% of all salespeople are strong qualifiers. Most salespeople aren’t asking.
The danger in not understanding a prospect’s process and criteria is that it prevents your sales team from being able to differentiate your product or service. If I can’t identify what my prospect needs and desires, how can I possibly make my company stand out as the one to solve their problems? The answer is, I can’t.
It’s a well-known fatal blow to an organization to become seen as a commodity -- a situation where products and services have slipped into purely price-based competition because they seem like every other product or service on the market.
Not understanding their prospects’ decision-making process and criteria puts salespeople in real danger of falling into the commodity trap.
The only consistently effective way to differentiate is to take a consultative, value based approach to selling, featuring listening and questioning skills.
Unfortunately, most salespeople are unable to identify compelling reasons to buy, create urgency, and get their prospects to "must have."
Our approach teaches salespeople how to uncover more than just business issues. If you’re ready to begin the process of truly differentiating your company from your competition, give us a call.
Sales management expert Duane Cashin has lead award-winning sales organizations and trained sales teams for companies of all sizes. He’s earned membership in Presidents Club and Circle of Excellence, successfully built and sold his own multi-million-dollar business, and enjoys sharing his passion for sales.