The Importance of Critical Thinking for Persuasion and Influence
Sales is all about persuasion and influence. Persuasion and influence fails are usually the result of poor-quality pre-thinking. For example:
- Seller conducts a data dump. Too much, too fast. Critical thinking would’ve pared down the information so it was hard-hitting and directly relevant for this individual buyer.
- Seller doesn’t stop talking. Filling up dead air deprives the buyer of time to do their own critical thinking. Anything persuasive or influential you’ve said can’t sink in and have an impact.
- Seller misses the mark. Maybe you’d persuade or influence someone else with this presentation, but it’s not resonating for this buyer at this time. Lazy thinking strikes again!
- Seller doesn’t connect the dots. The proof and links just aren’t clear. The buyer isn’t persuaded because they don’t see how it all comes together.
- Seller doesn’t use both logic and emotion. Buyers need both to make and justify a decision. Evoke emotions based on understanding buyer needs and back up your recommendation with logic.
- Seller didn’t collaborate with the buyer. If you created the solution, it’s your solution. If the buyer participated, they own it. Ownership is mighty persuasive.
- Seller is solving the wrong problem. It won’t be compelling if the buyer has a more urgent or more pressing need to address.
Throughout the sales process, you need critical thinking to equip yourself for the moment when you need to persuade or influence the buyer.
The Importance of Critical Thinking in the Discovery Process
Your solution is only as good as the buyer’s desire for it.
In discovery, you need to accomplish all the following:
- Build trust and rapport with the buyer
- Create value by asking thought-provoking questions that fully engage the buyer
- Fully understand the needs of the buyer
- Get the buyer’s hierarchy of needs established
- Magnify potential consequences and pain points related to inaction
- Qualify the buyer
- Plant seeds of new ideas or possibilities that pique the buyer’s interest
- Engage the buyer in describing and imagining the ideal future state
- Gather information about the decision-making process
- Positively differentiate yourself from other sellers
Without achieving these objectives in the discovery process, you will not be able to craft a solution that already has buyer enthusiasm and ownership. You won’t be able to persuade or influence the buyer as effectively either. Until you’ve asked purposeful questions and established yourself as a valued contributor and resource, you’re still as suspect as any other seller. The stereotypes about sellers inherently limit your influence and persuasiveness.
Critical thinking in the discovery phase of your sales process will give you the information you need to prove that your solution is the best one. Proof is persuasive, so don’t coast through discovery and miss the information you need.
The Importance of Critical Thinking in Your Sales Presentation
If you want to be believed, credible, influential, persuasive, and effective, you have to offer proof. Others expect you to demonstrate that your position is valid. The person making an assertion is the one who's responsible for proving it. This is "the burden of proof."
You’ll be taking a certain position in your sales presentation. When you offer a proposal or conduct a demo, you’re making an assertion that your solution is the right one for the buyer.
To prove your position, you'll need strong critical thinking skills. They will make you more persuasive than emotion alone. This video gives you three levels of proofs. You’ll be more influential when you aim for the highest possible level of proof.
By the way, if a buyer (or competitor) expects you to disprove an assertion or claim they've made, they're not upholding their obligation to provide the burden of proof. Your inability to disprove their claim doesn't make their claim true. Don’t cave to these silly and irrational arguments.