If you want to sell, then discover why people buy. You will be surprised to learn that reasons why people make decisions to buy are not what you think. A large body of work supports the notion that people are not always as rational as they seem. Greed, pride, fear, and other emotions are at play when decisions are made. Reasoning is not so much poorly executed as it is ignored. Evidence shows that people make life-changing decisions without regard for the facts and often in spite of them.
In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman gives an example: A chief investment officer for a large financial firm put millions of investors’ dollars in Ford because “he had recently attended an automobile show… ‘Boy, do they know how to make a car!’ was his explanation.” He had neither conducted due diligence nor investigated the fundamentals of the stock and, probably because he wanted to prove his consistency, emphatically stood by his decision when questions about his rationality were raised.
Kahneman goes on to prove that decisions are mostly made by an instinctive process, even in rational, highly trained professionals. He reminds the reader that every brilliant stock purchase by a professional investment broker is mirrored by an equally brilliant sale by another professional. They can’t both be right. The same information was available, and yet both regard the facts, if they even investigate them, in highly subjective ways.
The recent history of the LBM dealer industry demonstrates the irrationality of decision making. Companies have been sold and bought, often the same company by the same person, in a short span of years. For every well-intended purchase of a dealer, there has been a well-intended sale by another. Some transactions have worked out well and others not so much, all of which begs the question: Are your buyers as rational as they seem?
The answer is no. If you want to reach the highest levels of sales leadership, I recommend not focusing exclusively on the study of selling skills. Instead, become a student of buying psychology.
1. Stop believing your clients are rational. Bring ideas and inspiration to the table – e.g., sales tactics, marketing strategies, and cost-saving measures – and your clients will instinctively be driven to seek your involvement in their work.
2. Recognize that many want to prove their consistency. To build momentum toward final sales, get small commitments from clients and prospects that build opportunities for them to demonstrate their consistency – e.g., promises to meet to discuss your proposals.
3. Validate. Help them feel good about the loyalty they offer by reinforcing decisions and validating sales after the fact. The best way to get the next sale is to make your clients happy about the last one.
Don’t believe for a moment that people are rational decision makers. Strive to understand the reasons they actually buy, and you’ll have more success selling.
Rick Davis is the president of Building Leaders, a training organization devoted exclusively to the sale of building materials. His latest book, “The Sales Secret,” is now available. To order it, go to www.buildingleaders.com, call 773.769.4409, or contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org.