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Decision Making

My understanding from checking the sales literature is that the toughest challenge is to get the prospect to make up his mind.

I can attest to this as being true. When I worked in Best Buy's tv department, the most frequent complaint I got was the customer had too many tvs to pick from. A Best Buy associate had advised me that customer's wanted to have their choices narrowed down so we had to ask lifestyle questions and find out what the customer was particularly interested in as we gathered information.

I was bedeviled by a problem: did the customer make up his or her mind on the spot or did he have to come back later? (I was selling an HDTV which ranged from $2,500 to $3,000). That same associate, when I asked him that question, responded that the prospects come back later to buy.

As I explained in another thread, I solved the problem of giving prospects consumer choice. What happened was two weeks before I ended my tour with Best Buy, me and an associate checked the inventory showing 10 HDTVs of that model in the warehouse. Then on my last day (an Easter Sunday), a couple bought the tv outright so me and another associate checked the inventory and...the warehouse was cleaned out! No more tvs left.

Since I worked only weekends, it's possible that people came back during weekdays to buy (I still get credit for the sale). The windup to this story is I came back over a month later to see what the tv department looked like (it was being renovated). The associate who had advised me, upon seeing me, exclaimed "He's the one who cleaned out the warehouse on the JVC" (there's a story behind this which I don't want to get into). That completes my story. - by Wonderboy
Unfortunately, sales has been based on offering a product to fit a need, with the assumption that the right product will fit the right need. But that isn't true or we'd all be selling a lot more.

The reality is that the 'need' or Identified Problem, as i call it, is merely part of a much larger issue that sits within a 'system' (people, policies, rules, hidden agendas and feelings, relationships, budget and time issues, future wishes, etc). This system has been around, and operates well-enough, for it to remain the way it is without change. In fact, the system has already built into it a work-around for the Identified Problem (or it would have resolved the problem already).

When prospects start thinking that they might need to resolve the IP, they are at the beginning of the process of figuring out how to add something new to their system - and they spend quite a bit of time ensuring that the new product or resolution will NOT upset the system (the system being far more important than any one part that might not be functioning that well on its own).

Sellers believe that when they see a problem, and have a product that will resolve that problem, that the buyer should be ready to buy. but they MUST go through a range of decisions to help them adopt something new, bring it in without disruption,and get the buy-in necessary to do that. Sales doesn't manage this end of the equation, being focused on needs-assessment and product sale.

If you want to help buyers figure out how to reach decisions, Buying Facilitation will do that. It's a sequenced approach that leads the buyer through the entire range of systems issues that need to be managed prior to them making a decision. They need to do this anyway - with you or without you - and the time it takes them to do this is the length of the sales cycle. And,again, sales has no model or skill set to manage this.

You might want to read my ebook Buying Facilitation: the new way to sell that expands and influences decisions. It introduces the whole concept here (www.buyingfacilitation.com).

And,you are right: because sales doesn't manage this end of the seller-buyer gap, it is the toughest challenge. But using Buying Facilitation mitigates this problem and it becomes easy to manage.

sd - by Sharon Drew Morgen
Sharon (if I may address you that way), we think alike. At Best Buy I was wearing a shirt (my uniform, so to speak) that identified me as a JVC rep and not as a Best Buy rep so when people asked me for a recommendation and I recommended the JVC tv I represented, there was a problem which I eventually fixed.

To show how complicated selling can be, when I tried selling a newspaper to a prospect who was loyal to his brand of newspaper, I always failed. Not until I suggested that he compare his paper to the one I represented on a trial basis did I successfully start selling the paper to that class of customer (which in effect allowed him to suspend his final decision to go with my paper or not - consumers love to shop and have a choice). I also want to note that this rebuttal wasn't part of the script I worked with at the time (BTW, I no longer rely on rebuttals as they're very unprofessional and led to the demise of the B2C telemarketing industry). - by Wonderboy
Working with a prospect who hasn't made the decision to buy (solve a problem) is low probability selling. No selling system is going to change that reality. - by Calvin
hi Wonderboy:
Just for your information, my first name is Sharon Drew - like Mary Ann... and I would much prefer it if you would call me by my first name. I actually designed the name for myself about 30 years ago, and still love it... And thanks for asking!

Good for you for moving beyond your script and understanding it's about the buyer's decision, not the product. When or if you ever get into sales again, you might want to add a few tools and actually help the buyer work from his/her own criteria by leading them down their own decision sequencing path that is available with Buying Facilitation. And, you're right; so few sellers understand it's about the buying decision rather than the product.

thanks for your remarks.. sd - by Sharon Drew Morgen
Sharon Drew go you go through your sequence with everyone or just those who are having trouble making a decision? - by Thomas
Sharon Drew go you go through your sequence with everyone or just those who are having trouble making a decision?
Everyone.

As far as i can tell, everyone is generally a part of the decision team. i've gotten huge pieces of work at very well known Fortune 500 companies from the secretary/assistant as well as from a receptionist. after all, who is in control - you or the gatekeeper??? doesn't she need to make a decision as to what to do with the call???

when i worked with KPMG they had such a complex sale that we had 5 iterations of people we had to use the model with (and brought a $50,000,000 sale from a 3 year sales cycle to a 4 month cycle). when working with Clinique, we taught the counter clerk how to use the Facilitative Questions with someone purchasing, say, a lipstick - and taught the customer how to decide on a lipstick AND mascara.

even a clerk at a store needs to decide how to work with you or help you.

i use the model with friends, lovers, family, clients, prospects, colleagues. it's part of my life.

i figure: if i can help others reach their own best decisions, using their own criteria, i'm a servant leader and have made the world a better place.
sd - by Sharon Drew Morgen
Everyone.
Wouldn't that be overkill for the people who already made their decision and know what they want? - by Thomas
If you are lucky, and your customer/client has done all (ALL) their internal/systemic 'homework', they will call or walk in, plunk their money down, and buy. Those are those lucky sales that happen occassionally.

But if you experience customers saying they know what they want, and then they go away and don't close as quickly as you think they might, what do you think they are doing??? they are lining up their decision criteria and managing their internal people/policies/relationships so there won't be disruption.

If you 'know' you want a Bentley, you might go into the showroom to have a look, talk price, etc. but then have to face the reality of going home to tell your wife, or your banker, and a whole 'nother set of decisions come into play.

Btw: i noticed that Calvin (whose response didn't come through to me before) says that if the client hasn't made the decision, they are not buyers. Not true. Almost no clients show up knowing all of their decision criteria, given that it is only that one person/group that shows up. Almost all decisions are not made with one person or group.

Remember: there is the tip of the iceberg where sales has focused, and the rest of the iceberg, where buyers go quietly to figure out what they need to figure out. Sellers have had no way to follow them there or effect change there before now with Buying Facilitation. Buying Facilitation manages the entire range of internal elements that got the client to the point of needing a solution - all of the historic ones, personal ones, problems from other departments years ago etc - and need to be reconciled before they can go about the task of fixing the Identified Problem at the tip.

In reality, buyers are going to do this WITH your or WITHOUT you. Sales has had no way to enter at this place until now. As a result, sales take at least - AT LEAST - 4x longer to close than necessary.

sd - by Sharon Drew Morgen
First, thank you for your permission.

In your last response you said "As a result, sales take at least - AT LEAST - 4x longer to close than necessary." which I want to comment on.

Sometimes people don't like to work in call centers as they're stats driven. In my case it became an advantage as they (a cable company) kept track of certain numbers for me, one of them being calls per hour I handled.

I've developed a system allowing me to exceed quota by over 10X implying I've done plenty of selling. Yet my calls per hour didn't deteriorate staying about the same (in my last three months I averaged 11.6 calls an hour exceeding the 10 calls per hour quota by 10%).

It's really a myth that, on average, sales take anywheres from five to ten minutes per customer. From my comparison studies, on average they take between two to three seconds (not enough time for even two words, again two to three seconds).

I regard my system as the best of its kind allowing customers a certain type of freedom not given by any other system (this doesn't rule out other ways of improving your sales, but it is basic
and works with any product, service and offer; it also works with
any almost personality or selling style, around 90 to 95% of the time I've estimated). - by Wonderboy
I'm glad you're doing so well! Sounds great. So long as there is no manipulation or coercion.

Buying Facilitation was able to reduce successful phone calls to under 3 minutes, and ferret out non-buyers in about a minute. but of course it depends on what you are selling - some of my more complex calls can last 30 minutes, depending on how many iterations of Facilitative Questions i must use.

So it sounds great and i'm glad you're so successful.
sd - by Sharon Drew Morgen
I have 2 problem areas. When I'm cold calling the timing usually isn't right when I call. I think the prospects haven't got to the decision to use a service like mine. How can I speed up the decision?

The other problem area is discovery. I ask the questions you are suppose to ask but a lot of the answers are "I don't know". How can I get people to know? - by Thomas
you can't speed up the decision using conventional sales as information doesn't teach someone how to make a decision. that's what Buying Facilitation is for: it sequences the mental/systemic decision making in line with the way the brain makes decisions and teaches the buyer and buyer's decision team to go to each decision point in their brain. they will eventually figure it out on their own (and therein lie the sales cycle) but you can help them with Buying Facilitation. you might want to get my ebook Buying Facilitation: the new way to sell that expands and influences decisions.

'I don't know' merely means they don't know where that data is stored in their brain and you are asking the wrong question - or a question out of sequence, or a question that YOU need an answer for. conventional questions pull information in re decisions already made. Facilitative Questions point the brain to where the decision lie and doesn't elicit 'i don't know' responses.

you are discussing some of the problems with conventional sales. you really might want to consider getting my ebook - it's only $20 and will tell you how to fix those problems.
sd - by Sharon Drew Morgen
Your book explains how to teach people to make a decision? The sequence and the questions are in the book? - by Thomas
Your book explains how to teach people to make a decision? The sequence and the questions are in the book?
Don't be disappointed if the book doesn't doesn't give all the answers. That's a lot to accomplish for a book plus it would negate the need for training with the author. - by BossMan
1. it's impossible for me to teach the HOW in a book when it takes 3 days of very complex training to teach the SKILLS (other training programs teach BEHAVIORS) of Buying Facilitation.
2. the sequence of decision making is in the book, as well as many, many examples of Facilitative Questions, what they do, and how to use them. The book is the best i can do to help you learn the material without a training program, but it can't get you all the way there due to the need to learn to LISTEN for SYSTEMS which is very different listening than we are ever taught to do, and to learn how to use the brain sequencing that i've developed.
3. when you use the sequencing, the questions teach folks WHERE to make a decision in their (group/individual) brain, and includes all of the criteria they need to do that. so, yes, it teaches people HOW to make a decision - but probably in a new way than you're used to. but at a systems level, all decisions are made the same way.


sd - by Sharon Drew Morgen
The book is the best i can do to help you learn the material without a training program, but it can't get you all the way there...
Here's a crazy question Sharon Drew, how far will the book get you in the training? - by SpeedRacer
Two different things, although there are two different training programs.

The book explains (concisely) what systems are, and how buyers (and everyone) lives within systems; why one can't see the entire system while inside it; how the system is convoluted around its make-up and how it holds it in place, and won't change until it can ensure to not disrupt system, and how facilitative questions find those parts of the system that much be managed. Book takes an hour to read the first time and 3 hours the second.

the Buying Facilitation training makes each learner discover their own internal systems, how the system hangs on to beliefs - and the beliefs that need to be maintained no matter what - and how their sales skills play into, support, and maintain their daily sales behavior while maintaining internal systems. Then we learn how to ask/use/formulate Facilitative Questions to inhibit/change these systems so learners can learn, and recognize that this is the exact range of systems, change, and decisions buyers go through before they buy. this program brings appx 200-600% revenue increase over sales skills (as per IBM, Intuit, Wachovia, KPMG, Kaiser, etc) because the time it takes buyers to discover their own answers and make internal changes without disruption is the length of the sales cycle.

Learners walk away with life skills to communicate, listen, support, serve each other. program changes lives. I train this program myself in corporations (occassional public programs, but not often) and include 8 weeks of coaching following the corporate programs.

I also have an easier program that gives participants the ability to get inside of every decision that buyers go through so they can understand the entire Buying Side of the equation. I give 6 Facilitative Questions for participants to take away and use with their normal sales skills. Easy to train, easy to use right away. I have trainers that deliver this program.

So the book is kinda an intro, but doesn't go anywhere near as far as the training, and doesn't teach 'skills'.

Here is a link to the two courses so you can see them. http://newsalesparadigm/pdfs/sdm53.pdf

Also if you go to www.buyingfacilitation.com you can read two free chapters of Buying Facilitation: the new way to sell that expands and influences decisions.

Hope this helps...
sd - by Sharon Drew Morgen
My understanding from checking the sales literature is that the toughest challenge is to get the prospect to make up his mind.
I bumped into a guy I know a few months back at a community fundraiser sale. He tells about some signs that someone in the community had donated that he wanted me to look at.

I didn't need any more signs but I've known the guy a long time and I didn't want to seem abrupt or cold by not even looking so I took a look.

It turns out he has a couple dozen nearly new heavy-duty metal a-frame signs which I know I can buy these elsewhere for about $40 each. My mind starts racing and I quickly come to the conclusion that although the signs looked great I didn't need anymore signs, I probably wouldn't save that much money buying them now, plus how would I explain spending hundreds of dollars on more signs to my wife. The last time I shelled out that kind of cash on signs I really didn't like the look my wife gave me. Right then and there I told myself that I wasn't going to buy the signs and would break the news to this guy immediately.

He asks me how much I would pay for the whole lot and I tell him I wasn't interested because I already have so many but I'd give it some thought and get back to him if I changed my mind.

After hearing my response he looks me in the eye and tells me I can have them all for $3 each if I bought them right then. Without hesitation I say, "$3 each? Sold!"

So much for wresting with the decision to buy or not buy.

What did I tell my wife? I told her with enthusiasm how much money I "saved" us by purchasing the signs.

I'm sure there is a lesson in there somewhere. ;wi - by AZBroker
Making the purchase decision easier for the buyer is part of a salesperson's job. Giving away the farm to do this is another story. - by SalesCoach
Since this story started with Best Buy let us continue with a story of Best Buy.
I was in search of a home owner copy machine. It was for experimental events I wanted to try.We went to several companies looking for what I wanted including Best Buy.
I did not make a decision at any of the places I shopped.Not because I could not make a decision I was not enticed to make a decision by any of the sales staff at any of the palces we visited.
After a few weeks of non action and deciding II needed to take action I went back to Best Buy.This time I was lucky enough to find a young kid who actually knew what types of questions to ask.These questions drove my want and need.The questions do you have a copier now? Do you have a scanner now?Do you have a fax machine now?Thats a lot of equipment don't you think?
Let me show you this machine.A better copier machine that included a fax machine,scanner.
I spent more than I wanted or expected. I saved room in my office for more important tiems such as my reearch books and papers.My office is not as messy as it once was.The copier prints great and my presentations are precise and intriguing.
Non decisions made by the client at that time can be due to the inability of the sales staff to perform at a high level and communication or lack of communcation skills create a void of non decision.
When I return to purchase a product the reason has been the lack of information at the time I originally became interested. This means I had to find the information on my own.When I go to a store of any type I have made a decision to own.Now I must find the right person I want to own from.
More complex sales that require a longer cycle are different than a home owners decision or that of a small business where a decision comes quicker.Such as the cycle Sharon Drew has expressed so eloquently - by rich34232
The reality is that the 'need' or Identified Problem, as i call it, is merely part of a much larger issue that sits within a 'system' (people, policies, rules, hidden agendas and feelings, relationships, budget and time issues, future wishes, etc). This system has been around, and operates well-enough, for it to remain the way it is without change. In fact, the system has already built into it a work-around for the Identified Problem (or it would have resolved the problem already).
sd
I agree with all of that to the point where, in my mind, Sharon Drew has stated the obvious. It is hard for me to fathom that anyone who has worked in sales for very long, and works with an awareness, would not have learned that incrementally. Long before anyone put a trademarked label to describe an excellent method for working with the realities that Sharon Drew describes, those same realities were being dealt with effectively.

The name of the game is Think. Although we can learn much from others, we can't expect others to think for us. - by Ace Coldiron
I attended sales training by Jim Ziegler a few years ago -- one of the wordtracks he used that impacted me was "A confused mind always says NO." As a salesperons one must always be careful not to provide too much information -- sensory or mental overload will quickly make a prospect start backing up, and you'll be hearing "we need to go home and think about it."

A good salesperson must always ak questions first to discover buying motives, wants, needs, etc....BUT....perhaps even more crucial is to direct the customer toward specific products once those things have been discovered. I caution strongly....don't overload your customer....listen, direct, guide, explain, get agreement, close! - by ColleenMullins
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