The 2 Ways Customers Make Decisions & Why You Lose Sales

How much thought did you put into the type of computer or phone that you are reading this article on?  

Did you tirelessly research the pro’s and con’s of different brands, participate in forum discussions with experts to find out exactly what type of device will give you optimum efficiency or sift through reviews of five different brands to develop a weighted average of which one is best for you.

Or did you pick the device that was on special, or was your favourite colour.

Irrespective of which of the above decision making process best reflects yours,’ I’m sure you will agree that people have vastly different levels of personal investment in their phone or laptop.

The people buying your product are no different and if you are likely to lose sales you could have won if you don’t embrace this.

Systematic decision making is the process by which people make logical decisions based on careful consideration and analysis of the product.

In sales, more often than not the sale is made to the subject matter expert whose decision making process is systematic.

For example, if you are selling cyber security consulting services, then chances are the IT Manager you are trying to convince will have a few questions for you.  In fact, I’d be surprised if he didn’t Google “Liam Neeson Taken” beforehand to get some tips.

However, your IT Manager is the easy sale, because the decision making process is systematic (or logical).  It is logical for him or her to take cyber security extremely seriously, as, their job depends on it.  Cyber security is likely at the forefront of their mind and the right or wrong decision on this can have dire consequences (both positive and negative).

So after lengthy deliberation, your contact wants to get signoff from the CEO and like a good and because of how good your relationship is, your contact will introduce you.

Here’s your challenge.  The CEO doesn’t really know much about cyber security, doesn’t want to and moreover, has 20 other things more important to do.

The CEO will make the decision heuristically.

Heuristic decision making involves making a decision based on seemingly superficial elements of the product, or one aspect of the product that can be readily understood (like price, colour or size).

This is one reason price comes up so much in sales.  Not just because it is obviously an important aspect of any product, but because it is easily the most understood.  The CEO doesn’t understand the latest in ransomware, spyware or what a DDOS attack can do, but they understand dollars and cents, and a lower number is more appealing than a higher number.

So, if you can’t woo them with features, benefits and advantages that the IT Manager fell in love with, what can you do?

You need to start by convincing the CEO that this decision matters.

You could start with not what he has to gain from using your product, but what he has to lose. Loss aversion is the most underutilised tool in sales and is extremely powerful with Heuristic Decision makers because it can be readily understood.

Next, you could talk about how similar companies have suffered dramatic losses because of inaction.  A summary of the damage the most recent cyber attack caused to a competitor would be ideal.  Even better, industry stats on how similar companies are investing in your type of service.

What would be most effective however would be the above delivered via a presentation with visual aids, which statistically is 43% more persuasive than without.

More often than not, a sale is lost not at the level of the decision influencer, but of the decision maker due to the fundamentally different levels of investment they have in the product you are selling.