Arguing is not necessarily a bad thing. To argue simply means to present reasons for (or against) a position. The ability to construct a solid argument enables you to be persuasive, influential, and effective in advancing toward your goals.
The ability to deconstruct someone else's argument is also an important skill. But arguing is only useful and valuable when you know the right techniques for argumentation. That's where logic, objectivity, and critical thinking skills come in handy. In this video, we're focusing on the steps for effective argumentation.
In selling, you’re using arguments in the following ways:
- You’re constructing the case for meeting with you when you send the buyer an email that outlines why spending time with you will be valuable
- You’re deconstructing an argument when you respond to a buyer’s objections
- You’re gathering information during discovery. You’ll use the information to construct arguments for why they buyer should buy your solution.
- In negotiating the terms of an agreement, you’re constructing arguments for your position and deconstruct your buyer’s arguments in favor of their own position.
- When asking for referrals, you’re constructing an argument about why the buyer should refer you and why the new prospect should act on that referral.
Argumentation is, unfortunately, not a skill that’s typically included in sales training. It should be! When you master the steps of effective argumentation, you’ll have a competitive advantage.
The 5 Steps of Effective Argumentation
Once you know the steps, you can identify what's missing in your own -- or others' -- presentation of a position. As you make decisions, you'll also be able to evaluate the quality of the position offered. You'll know what questions to ask so you get all 5 parts of the argument. This is how you build your mental might!
The 5 steps of an effective argument are:
- Making a claim. This is the assertion or position you advocate.
- Understanding the counter-claim that’s made for your buyer.
- Offering reasons that your claim is superior to the counter-claim. AND fully understanding the reasons your buyer gives for their counter-claim. Be open and objective to take it all in.
- Providing evidence to back up your claim. AND, again, objectively taking in and evaluating the evidence offered by your buyer for the counter-claim.
- Making an emotional appeal in addition to the logical claim you’ve already made.
You can’t skip over any of these steps. If you expect the buyer to hear and remain open-minded to your claim, you’ll have to model that same openness. To learn more about the five steps, click on this video:
How Can Using Techniques of Argumentation Help Me Close More Sales?
Using the five steps to construct a productive argument will make you more effective in three ways:
- You’ll demonstrate a balance of logical reasons and emotional appeals that make a compelling case. It’s hard to say “no” when both logic and emotion back up a claim.
- You’ll be dignifying the buyer’s thoughts and, in return, they’ll be more likely to hear yours. This makes the dialogue more productive. It may even lead to a blended solution where the buyer got to participate in crafting the recommendation. That’s getting buy in before asking for the buy!
- You won’t miss important clues about what the buyer values. You’ll have advance notification about likely objections and points that will need clarification or attention when it comes time to negotiate the terms.
Ultimately, you’ll be closing more sales because you’re opening up a more expansive 2-way dialogue. For buyers, there’s a strong preference to work with sellers who genuinely allow for and invite 2-way dialogue. This is backed by a research study with 530 B2B buyers.
Buyers want to buy from people who engage them, create value by provoking thought, and stir up new ideas. The techniques of argumentation provide ways for doing all that. When you deliver, buyers will respond by buying.
Next Steps for Developing Critical Thinking Skills that Improve Sales Effectiveness
There’s much more to learn about argumentation and logic and the thinking traps that can derail us from critical thinking. Every bit of it is useful in selling more effectively.
This is part 11 in the series of posts about why and how to build critical thinking skills you can use to excel in selling. Be sure to bookmark the CONNECT2Sell Blog or subscribe to our weekly newsletter so you won’t miss these posts. Each one offers additional ways to build your mental might. If you want to go back and catch up on the ones you’ve missed, just click on this link.