Really, you don’t even know your own. If I asked you how you make a decision you will give me decision-making “content,” not your strategy. You may talk about price, size, convenience, ease of use, or other criteria, not your strategy! No one knows his or her strategy. It is outside your awareness and happens at an unconscious level. All you know is whether the decision you are about to make looks right, sounds right, feels right, or seems right to you. The only way to know is to have someone elicit it by watching your eyes.
It’s the same with your customer. “The eyes have it!”
Failing to know and then appealing to your prospect’s decision strategy, you run the risk of your sales call ending with your approach statement. The prospect may sit and patiently listen to you when in reality they are becoming impatient and even annoyed. During my workshops I have participants up in front of the group and elicit their decision strategy. Then I proceed to present to them inside of strategy and outside of strategy. 100% of the time when I present outside of strategy the participant sits patiently listening and when asked how they felt, the typical response is annoyed. When I present inside of strategy, 100% of the time they actually get excited and become engaged (without asking a question). I never mention a product — it’s the predicates I use and the order I use them, not the “content.” I am talking about subtle differences in word selection and the appropriate timing.
So, by having asked key decision process questions of the customer or prospect about what’s important to them when making a decision, then paying close attention to how the customer or prospect responds rather than what they actually talk about, the prospect or customer will reveal their decision strategy and you will be able to immediately use the appropriate influencing language for him or her.
I want to focus on just four of the six perceptual modes: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and auditory-digital. These are the main perceptual modes used for decision-making.
There are three component parts to decision strategy. They are the trigger, the evidence strategy, and the exit strategy.
Let’s start with the decision-making trigger. The trigger is what starts the customer deciding to begin the process of making a decision. Since you are going to be asking the customer to make a decision, you want to ensure the customer has entered the decision-making mode. You do that by verbally tripping the trigger. The trigger is usually the first place the eyes track to when asked a decision process probe.
- If the eyes first track up and to either their right or their left, the customer has a visual trigger.
- If directly to the right or left, they have an auditory trigger.
- If down and to their right, they have a kinesthetic trigger.
- If down and to their left, they have an auditory digital trigger.
The second phase is the evidence strategy. The evidence strategy will be the second place they look if they have a three-step strategy when thinking about a decision process probe.
The final phase is the exit strategy. The exit strategy is what tells the customer it is time to decide. It is important to be sure to close on the customer’s exit strategy to assist them in making the decision. Skipping this step could result in a decision not being made and a lack of commitment by the customer. To identify the exit strategy is to observe the last place the eyes track to before the pattern starts to repeat itself.
Let’s take an example of a prospect who first looks to their left (visual), then looks directly to their left (auditory), and then finally down to their left (auditory digital). Now, in order to trip the customer’s trigger or get them interested in listening to your presentation, you need to open your presentation with the appropriate linguistics. That is, your word choice or the predicates you use to describe what you want to do today. For this example (visual):
- If they have a visual trigger you want to use words that go to seeing something, such as: What I wanted to show you today is . . .
Remember, if you use the wrong perceptual mode and don’t appeal to the customer’s decision trigger, you run the risk of turning that customer off right at the beginning of your presentation. For example, you have a customer with a visual trigger and you begin your presentation with “I want to discuss this with you today,”
Next is an auditory evidence strategy. You want to then move quickly to their evidence strategy by using the appropriate linguistics or predicates. For example:
- Now as you are showing them the information you would use the linguistics for an auditory. This states that . . . and it says that . . .
Then finally close on the auditory digital exit strategy. For example:
- Does it now make sense to start using my product/service today?”
It is important to note that the customer’s decision strategy is their strategy for every decision they will make. The only thing that changes is the content or amount of information they need to make a particular decision and the particular information needed will run through their current decision strategy. The only time it will be different is if someone else is involved in making the decision.
Remember, their decision strategy is based on their life’s experiences and will only change when their current strategy starts to fail them. Therefore, it can change over time.
So, changing just one word can have a tremendous impact on your success.