Problem solving and making good decisions are the foundation of selling. You’ve got to decide who your prospects should be, how to navigate customer politics, deliver price increases and on and on. Deciding isn’t easy. Here are some thoughts to make decisions easier. Ideally, your problem solving decisions will be better ones as well.
Make decisions easier by getting past the fear of a negative outcome.
Sometimes one of the obstacles to making a decision is fear of a negative outcome. You might think that to make deciding easier you should focus on envisioning a positive outcome. That’s not what the research shows.
Dan Ariely, a Duke University psychology professor and writer, reports the results of a study that involved asking for a promotion. Participants were asked to think about what it would be like to ask for a promotion at their workplace. Then they were divided into three groups. One was told to write a list of reasons to make the request, another to list reasons not to make it and a third to list both pros and cons. All the participants were then asked how likely they were to get the courage to ask for a promotion at their work. Interestingly, the ones who listed both pros and cons were the most willing to ask, while there was no difference in willingness between the groups that considered only pros or only cons.
What this suggests to make decisions easier is you should make a list of all possible positive and negative consequences of the decision. You should be more likely to make the decision when you do.
Make decisions easier by limiting your choices.
Some salespeople think that having more options will make decisions easier. That’s not correct. Consumer research reported 54% of consumers experience so much frustration that they abandon e-commerce sites if they can’t choose. 42% admitted to abandoning a planned purchase altogether because there was too much choice.
Fewer options will make it easier to make a decision. Try to have 3-5 options. That way you can compare one to another and evaluate with the criteria you select. Limit your options to not more than 3-5 choices. You don’t want to get immobilized.
Just be sure to have more than one option. The journalist and philosopher Émile-Auguste Chartier, said, “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it’s the only one we have.” You risk making a bad decision when you only have one option. You don’t have anything to compare it to. It’s far better to be able to compare one option to others and select the best one for your situation.
Give yourself a deadline to make decisions easier.
Think about your decision as a negotiation with yourself. One of the strategies in negotiating is to limit your opponent’s time to decide and force a decision. Here’s how you can use a self-imposed deadline. If you are still uncertain about your decision by a specific time, then you will select X. You’ve effectively given yourself the decision by default if the time passes. I actually know of one long dating couple who used this strategy to make their marriage decision.
The girlfriend was notoriously indecisive. Her boyfriend proposed marriage over a lovely dinner. She was typically stumped. She kept thinking and thinking. Finally, he said, “I’m going to drop this cork from the champagne bottle. If you haven’t decided by when the cork lands, then it’s yes.” And she didn’t say no. They’ve been married for decades.
One hopes you can be more decisive with your marriage proposal. Other decisions in sales are just as important. Now you know how to make it easier to decide.