Can your sales conversations turn off the alarm bells in your customer’s head?

alarm-clock[3] copyWe all live for that magic moment when your customer says “yes,” and we close our deal.

But too often sales professionals start strong, but find that their buyer slows down. Initial urgency and excitement fades. You hear the dreaded, “This looks good, but we need more time to think about it.”

And all too often, a promising sale turns into no decision.

Work from researchers at Princeton, Harvard, and the University of Chicago helps explain what might be going on when this occurs: two different decision-making processes working side-by-side in your buyer’s brain are conspiring to slow down your momentum. To succeed, you need to address both.

This “dual-process decision making” is described in an article entitled, “Overcoming intuition: metacognitive difficulty activates analytic reasoning.” The article describes four different experiments that highlight the interaction of two different decision-making processes:

  • System 1 reasoning, which leads to fast, associative, and intuitive decisions
  • System 2 reasoning, which is slow, effortful, analytic, and deliberate

A key finding of the research is that “…deliberative and analytical systems of reasoning (System 2) can override or undo intuitive and associative (System 1) responses.” And the more complex the decision, the more likely this will happen.

This has big implications for your selling conversations, and helps explain Why Your buyer’s enthusiasm wanes as you move through your sales cycle. When your customer is confronted with a complex buying decision, she first makes a fast System 1 decision (hopefully in your favor). But this then sets off alarm bells and activates her slower System 2 thinking processes. And that slower, more analytical thinking trumps the faster decision, and slows down or stalls your sale.

To be successful you must be prepared to have conversations that influence both System 1 and System 2 decision-making:

  • First, you must provoke the “fast thinking” part of your customers’ brains, and get them to make positive, quick decisions to continue the conversation. The best way to accomplish this is with a powerful, disruptive, visual story that causes your customers to recognize that something they are doing is wrong, and that they need to consider changing.
  • But then, realizing that this disruption triggers alarm bells in your customers’ brains that activate the slower, analytical decision-making, you need to be ready to finish the job with a more detailed, yet easy-to-understand back-up story that justifies the initial decision, and shows how you can solve the problem and demonstrate bottom-line impact.

Do you want to close more business quicker, and reduce the number of “no decisions” in your funnel? Then make sure you’re prepared to have sales conversations that address both fast and slow decision making.

Find out more about creating and executing more effective selling conversations here.

Tim Riesterer

Tim Riesterer

Chief Strategy Officer

Tim Riesterer has dedicated his career to improving the conversations marketers and salespeople have with prospects and customers. His books, “Customer Message Management”, “Conversations that Win the Complex Sale”, “Three Value Conversations”, and "The Expansion Sale", focus on improving market-ready messages and tools that marketers and salespeople can use to win more deals. As chief strategy and research officer for Corporate Visions, he sets the direction and develops products for this leading marketing and sales messaging, content and training company.