People Not Making Decisions

Decision Making 1The one thing that really burns me is the inability of most American People to make a decision and stick with it.  I am in the process of helping my mother and brother sell some items that belong to my mother so that she can move into a retirement community.  She is certainly downsizing her abode and will not be able to take much of her personal property with her.  We have posted several items on Facebook Market Place and Craig’s list and I just can’t believe the number of text and calls we get saying that people are going to come look or purchase something and then other text and calls saying that they have decided against it before they even show up to look at the item they were interested in.

Don’t take this the wrong way.  I do not get frustrated helping my mom and brother do things.  I rather enjoy the challenge.  I only get frustrated with people who cannot make a decision on an item that cost less than $1,000 – and in most cases way less – and stick with it.

Here’s an example.  One item we are attempting to sell is a small white wooden bookcase with three shelves.  It stands about 3 feet tall by perhaps 3 1/2 feet wide.  Our asking price is $10.00.  I have had at least 25 text messages from 25 different people asking “Is this Still Available” or “Is there any other pictures?”  I’ve responded that it is available and how many other pictures could I take of such a small item.  I’ve had 0 out of 25 even show up to look at the bookcase.  I even had one woman ask, “If I buy it can you deliver it.”

I responded, “Yes for an additional $50.00!”  I have not heard back from her.

Or here’s another example:

Decision Making 2We have a Piano for  sale that I advertised as a starter piano for $300.00.  I’ve had four or five people say they would come take a look at it and they never showed up.  The latest was a series of text messages and phone calls last night from a couple who swore they would meet me between 9:00 and 10:00 this morning and pick it up after I promised to sell it to them for $200.00.  My last message was to inform him that in addition to a pickup truck he would need to bring some friends to help since I can’t with my bad back.  He said that was not a problem.

Well I guess it must have been since I got the following message from him this morning:

“Hey Jerry, we have Decided to hold off on buying the piano right now- we’ll be in touch thanks.”
I simply texted back … “Great!”  What else could I say!

My Past Life …

My previous job was in the Decision Making Business.  I worked as a financial advisor for close to 300 clients representing a major Financial Planning Firm here in America.  It was my job to get people to make decisions that I believed was in their best interest.

In the early years that was not an easy task … that’s when I first found out that people could not make a decision and stick to it.  I was 25, working on the southwest side of Chicago from my home in Berwyn Illinois trying to set appointments to come meet with people to sell them a financial product that would help them accumulate money.  It was rather easy to set the appointment.  In fact – for me it was a numbers game.  I knew that if I called 10 people 3 would set an appointment.  So if I needed 12 appointments per week I would only have to call 40 people or so … and I did this right out of the phone book for a long time (until I learned to get referrals).

However, it never failed, of the 12 appointments I would set … at least 8 would cancel before I ever met with them.  That would leave me with 4 to see, or so I thought.  However, one of those would not come to the door when I knocked … leaving me to see only 3 of 12.  My closing ratio was terrible and I would have to see 10 in order to get one person to buy what I was selling.  This means out of every 48 appointments I’d set … I could count on one sale.  Since the average sale would net me about $180 in commission at the time … needless to say I was not doing much in the way of supporting my family.  I was making about $180 every couple of weeks and growing even more frustrated.  How on earth could people make such poor decisions about their financial future?

Then I took a few sales classes and learned I may be trying to “Sell the Steak and not the Sizzle.”  In other words my sales presentation – and phone presentation – was all built around features of the product and not the benefit of the product.  A Benefit is what the product would do for the customer or client and the feature was how it would do it.  This sales master told me most people really don’t care about the how … they want to know what it will do for them.  He asked me … “If someone asked you what time it is … are you going to tell them how the clock was built or are you going to tell him the time?”

After a couple of days of sales training … my performance improved.  My appointment ratio on calls to appointments increased to 5 out of 10 rather than 3 out of 10.  My hold ratio on appointments set to appointments held increased from 3 out of 12 to 6 out of 10.  My sales appointment to sales ratio improved from 1 out of 10 to 3 out of ten in the first few weeks after training and eventually to 7 out of 10 after a few months.

However, I still had the same frustrations of people making and sticking to a decision.  In many cases – about 4 out of 7  – by the time I got back to the office with the paperwork had already called the office and cancelled the contracts.

I started to believe that all I’d learned in my sales training was how to add “Pressure” to my presentation.
People Under Pressure

The decision making process …

I was still unhappy with people’s decision making inabilities.  These were adults … not children … they should be able to make a decision and stick to it.  Why couldn’t they?  So I researched more.

I found there are actually seven steps to good decision making and if I could help people with these 7 steps – walk them through them – they would have a decision made for life in most cases.

Here are those seven steps:

STEP 1:  Identify the decision (in some cases the problem).

STEP 2:  Gather relevant information.

STEP 3:  Identify the alternatives.

STEP 4:  Weigh the evidence.

STEP 5:  Choose among the alternatives.

STEP 6:  Take Action.

STEP 7:  Review your decision & its consequences.

I also learned that Decision making is the mental process that leads to the selection of an action among several alternatives. Every decision making process produces a final choice.  Sometimes that choice is to do nothing … but that is a decision … though it is usually not the best.

I thought, if I could help people walk through this decision making process and let them see that my product was the best alternative at the time … I would be able to get more sales, more clients, and more money for my clients and my family.  This is when I entered my phase of Consultative Selling which is now being used by most financial product sales people in the world today.

Consultative Selling is all about the client … the person doing the buying.

  1. What is it that the really want?
  2. Why do they really want it?
  3. And, how is my product or service going to help them get it better than any other product or service they can use?

I certainly cannot answer the third question until I have the answers (in depth) to the first two.  This would also mean I would have to really research my competitors products and services to convince the client that what I had to offer was really the best.  It also meant I would have to take more time with the client.  My one appointment sales call actually ended up being multiple appointment sales calls with the same client.

My first meeting was simply a “get to know” meeting.  I would find out what it was the client was really interested in and how more money could help them get it.  We would spend about an hour or so just discussing financial goals and how they would feel if they were achieved and how they would feel if they were not achieved.  I would not only consider long-term (e.g. 10 year plus) but also mid-term ( 5 to 10 years out) and short-term (3 months to 5 years).

Then I would give a the client a homework assignment to gather materials for me to do an in-depth data gathering session.  This could take one visit or multiple visits.  I would look at their current financial situation and all things that made up that situations (e.g. Assets, Liabilities, Income, Expenses, etc.).  If the client agreed to this data gathering session 70% of the sale was completed.

Once all that was done (the data gathered and organized) I would ask the client about their goals and dreams again and get them to make a preliminary commitment that … “If I could help them achieve in life what they wanted to achieve when I came back with my financial or investment plan … would be have a basis to enter a formal business relationship?”  Notice I did not ask for any money.  If they said yes, I knew without a doubt the decision had already been made and there was a 95% chance that we would have a working long-term relationship.

The problem is …

When trying to sell odds and ends via Facebook Market, Craig’s List or other such social media sites … I am not able to meet with the potential customer until they have made the decision to meet with me.  In fact, on Facebook Marketing, I am not even allowed to give them a phone number to contact me until we begin a texting campaign with each one.

That is the millennial way of doing business … and this old baby boomer hates it.

I guess I am going to have to figure out a better way to list these personal items if I am ever going to get them sold for my mother and brother.  Perhaps I need to think about some phrases to use that will hook them into wanting to at least get off the couch and from in front of the TV to drive over and take a look.

A challenge I accept … but that does not mean I will still not be frustrated.  C’mon people … Tell me Yes, Tell me No, Tell me something … I gotta go.

Have a great week,

Jerry Nix, Freewavemaker, LLC


2 thoughts on “People Not Making Decisions

  1. Dennis

    I live on the Gulf Coast and also have a bad back. Would you take two dollars for the book case and $100 bucks for the piano ? O’ by the way, have the piano tuned and send me an audio text of what it sounds like after the tuning? 🤪🤩😘

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