If you read Will Mckelvie’s most recent blog on this site, (‘Identifying the customers need in a retail environment – avoid information overload!’) you may wonder why so many sales people hear but don’t listen.
The answer may lie in Daniel Kahneman’s book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’. This Nobel Prize winner opens with some light humour – he says that the book will enrich the vocabulary of gossipers at the office water cooler. Where, he says, it is so much easier, as well as far more enjoyable, to identify and label the mistakes of others than to recognise one’s own.
The gossiper’s language will now include Kahneman’s terminology ‘System 1’ and ‘System 2’ thinking. System 1 thinking is the immediate, instinctive and often emotionally driven thought process that takes least effort and is what many of us use to make decisions day by day. And as the ‘bat and ball’ experiment shows (A bat and ball cost £1.10. The bat costs £1 more than the ball. How much was the ball?), using System 1 thinking often produces an incorrect answer. (See below.)
The salesman referred to in Will’s blog was clearly operating with System 1 thinking. He immediately reacted to Will’s Mum’s enquiry about a DAB radio by going into his instinctive default ‘technical expert’ mode blurting out information that was irrelevant, unnecessary and confusing for the eager purchaser. As Kahneman shows, System 2 thinking requires more effort, it is not for the indolent or the lazy salesperson who will generally stick to System 1 as the easy option.
And that is where the type of training Will and other sales trainers I work with come into their own. The processes and techniques they share with course delegates enable them to benefit from being thoughtful, aware and systematic (System 2) by asking the right questions, listening to both verbal and non-verbal responses, processing that information, and responding appropriately. We call it consultative selling.
If the salesperson Will referred to had received, digested and applied professional sales training he would have secured that sale (and possibly a three year warranty as well!) In probability he would be closing many more sales he was otherwise losing. The resulting increase in confidence, enthusiasm and energy would no doubt have produced more orders giving a return on investment in sales training measured in weeks rather than months.
So when deciding on an investment in sales training System 1 thinking often works like this:-
Sales Training = Time out off selling + chunky fees = Too Expensive = Don’t bother. (All in a split second)
Applying System 2 to evaluate the potential return on investment may well lead the decision maker to the other conclusion.
(The ball cost 5p. So the bat, being £1 more will be £1.05. Total £1.10.)