One of the Most Common Barriers to Critical Thinking in Sales
Sales success is often contingent on well-reasoned arguments and the seller’s ability to make a strong, compelling case to the buyer. In our last post, we mentioned a logical thinking fallacy that often plagues sellers. We’re going to take a closer look here at false dichotomies and other examples of oversimplification that interfere with sales success.
Consider these common examples of sellers oversimplifying in ways that impair sales effectiveness:
- Seller offers an A or B choice to buyer. Neither choice is appealing. No sale.
- Seller makes an invalid comparison that doesn’t make sense to the buyer. No trust.
- Seller draws simplistic conclusions that aren’t logical. No credibility.
- Seller fails to manage buyer’s unrealistic expectations. No repeat sale or renewal.
- Seller dodges buyer questions and objections. No advance to the next step in the sales process.
In each example, the seller is glossing over details or oversimplifying. Sometimes sellers do this because they are overly optimistic and a little out of touch with how things will really play out. Other times, sellers do this because they are “blueskying” the buyer and hope to fool them. Usually, though, these oversimplifications happen simply because sellers are mentally shortcutting from A to Z, leaving out important in-between steps that would produce more logical thinking and conclusions.
Are You Oversimplifying Things and Losing Buyer Trust?
Hurrying to try and race to the finish line is a surefire way to lose in selling. If you’re running the 100-meter dash and ignoring the hurdles you’re supposed to jump over, you’ll be disqualified. You’re in the wrong event.
Sales is an event with hurdles. It may go slower than you’d like. You’ve got to master the techniques of jumping over them without losing too much speed. Going slow in order to learn and practice the skills will make you faster in time. Skipping the hurdles will get you there faster but you won’t win.
When you oversimplify, you will have to backtrack. Buyers will lose confidence in you and think you’re just a fast-talking seller who’s trying to pull something over on them.
Instead of oversimplifying, be more deliberate and thorough. Take the steps, one at a time, and be sure the buyer is tracking with you. Don’t leave important pieces out of the logical progression you’re making from buyer need to why your solution is the best choice. You may know all the reasons why, but don’t assume the buyer knows any. Don’t dodge objections or duck conversations about price. Instead, be transparent and open.
Don’t skip important information because you’re afraid it will dissuade the buyer. You skipping the information will leave a long-lasting, negative impression that will be much harder to recover from.
To learn more about ways you might be oversimplifying, be sure to watch this video from the series No More Lazy Thinking.
Are You Accepting Buyers’ Oversimplifications?
Buyers may be doing this, too. “We can’t afford it” is a classic example of oversimplification. Most of us will find a way to afford something that’s of value, especially if the investment will save us time or money in the long run. It’s your job to neutralize this oversimplification by expanding their thinking.
Buyers also offer false equivalences. They probably don’t recognize it when they’re doing. That’s why you have to recognize it and shed light on the illogical conclusion they’ve drawn. A false equivalence happens when people see two similar situations and leap ahead to think the outcomes are the same just because of the similarity. A bad experience with your competitor, for example, doesn’t mean there’s going to be a bad experience with you just because you sell a similar product.
To challenge oversimplifications, you have to probe them. Ask questions like “Tell me more about how you reached this conclusion” or “When you put this in the big picture, long-term view, how do you see it differently?” Use questions to understand their thinking AND to prompt a different type of thinking.
If you accept buyer’s oversimplifications at face value, you’ll make mistakes. If you accept “we can’t afford it” as an absolute truth, you’ll work to discount the price or trim down the offer. Either way, you’re diminishing value. You’re reacting to something that isn’t fully valid instead of first challenging the invalidity of the statement.
Buyers rely on sellers to challenge them in these ways and have robust, two-way dialogue. You’ll be coaching and educating your buyer as you recognize and address oversimplifications.