Understanding Customer Decisions

“People make buying decisions, not companies.”  That and how they make these decisions was the theme of Mike Gomez (GrowthGuy), former military fighter jet salesman and now President of Allegro Consulting, message to retail business owners at a seminar conducted at AmericasMart in Atlanta this month.  He emphasized that the role of anyone trying to sell something is to first understand the decision you are trying to affect, the role of that individual in the decision process, and finally, the driving priorities that will lead to a decision.  Equipped with this information you can then align your product or service to match those priorities or, if a match doesn’t exist, proceed on a course to change those priorities.

Here is how he broke it down in his one-hour lecture:

What is the decision? Most big decisions are made up of smaller ones. For example you can’t sell someone a particular brand of life insurance unless you first sold them on the idea that they need insurance. He stressed it was easier to influence smaller decisions than a big one. Helping a client with smaller decisions builds trust and confidence with them. State the decision where a yes/no answer outcome is possible and use the language a customer would.

What role do they have in the decision making process? Are they a Decision Maker, Influencer, Evaluator, or Implementer?

Decision Maker       Influencer

Evaluators Implementer

Though one person can wear all of these hats, especially for smaller purchases, larger buying decision will typically involve multiple people assigned to different roles in the decision process. Your job as a salesperson is to know what role they are performing at any given moment and address them accordingly.

How are you positioned relative to the “Most Important Priorities?”  How well positioned is your Competition? 

To prove his point about priorities Mike engaged the audience by asking for priorities when buying something as simple as toothpaste.  When thinking about things like paste, gel, fluoride, price, whitening, and so on, what are the driving priorities for you when purchasing toothpaste?  Mike filled a page of priorities thrown at him by the audience. He stress that for any given person three priorities will ultimately drive the final decision. As a salesperson, your job, through creative questioning or surveys, is to determine what those priorities are and market accordingly.

To show the dramatic increase in priorities when making larger purchases Mike asked the audience about priorities they would consider when buying a car.  He stopped after filling two pages. He stressed that with higher priced decisions, you can expect more priorities, more people involved, and that each person will have his/her own priorities.

Mike then stated that your next task is to assess how well your product or service aligns with each customer priority.  Know your strengths and weaknesses.  How do your competitors stack up against these same priorities?

image 7 image 13

Why us?  Select a Sales Strategy to WIN.   Finally, after all the data is gathered your winning sales strategy should highlight your strengths relative to those priorities, magnify your competitor’s weaknesses, while at the same time neutralizing any weaknesses you may have.

Mike closed by sharing a few other important insights into the human decision making process. First was this definition, decision making is the cognitive process resulting in the selection of a course of action among several alternative scenarios.  There are two types:

  1. Whether to Buy: a simple yes or no answer
  2. Which to Buy: comparisons of alternatives against a certain criteria (B2B); contingent decision

People make decisions based on Biases, Reason, Emotion, and Memory:

  1. Biases: Preconceived impressions; 90% of perception is learned through indirect third party experiences, 10% learned through personal experiences.
  2. Reasons: What facts are needed? How did they make past decisions?
  3. Emotion: How will the experience be working with you/your company?  Is there a confidence or trust built with the customer?
  4. Memories: Direct experience with you or like companies.




Stick to the strategy “Bad mouth” the competitor
Measure progress and re-score often Make direct comparisons (use ghosts instead)
For real weaknesses

  •   Admit to them early
  •   Take corrective action
  •   Neutralize with heavy substantiation

Mike stressed the mission of every client interaction is to create more positive reinforcement than negative ones at a ratio of 4:1.  You garner trust/confidence through actions.  Mike believes in the theory of keeping the customer’s head moving up and down – saying yes.  The last thing Mike shared with the audience was providing an impactful close by actually daring your customer to visit competitors by giving them three competitor’s business cards.  It can really leave a wow factor if you believe in that your company is truly better than your competitors and that you better understand your customer’s priorities.


Have you had times when your product or service perfectly aligned with a customer’s most important priorities and thus made a big sell?  Tell us about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s