COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | JEFFREY GITOMER

How good are you at decisions?

Decisions — either by you, your co-worker, your boss, your family members or your customer — drive your success, your lifestyle and your attitude.

As you’re contemplating what to do, or how to decide, there are stream-of-conscious thoughts that affect the final choice and the resulting outcome. Whether you’re buying something, working on a project, parenting or making a sale, there are decisions you have to make that will determine the outcome. Your job is to make the best one, the right one.

Most people think decisions are made based on economics. The price. Most people are wrong. Decisions are made based on a myriad of elements, and price is only one of them. Perceived value is way more of a factor than price.

The majority of decisions you make are based on existing emotion and perception, combined with previous experience, unless you’re in politics, or corporate politics.

Those political decisions are made based on what’s popular, what’s likely to be approved, what’s safe (nobody ever got fired for buying IBM), or what’s politically expedient, and almost never based on what’s best for the whole of the country or the company.

If you’re willing to think deeper about the decision-making process for yourself, it may help you understand how others make their decisions, especially if you’re in sales and your income and career are based on the decisions of others. The easiest way to understand the situation and other people is to first understand yourself and how you make decisions.

Regardless of the decision at hand, the questions below will help your conscious and subconscious mind understand your decision-making process and help you understand the decision-making processes of others.

Here are some of the thoughts that enter your mind as you make choices:

• What’s the circumstance?

• What’s the reason?

• What’s the risk?

• What are the potential consequences?

• What are my fears?

• What’s the reward?

• What’s the real issue?

• What’s the real barrier?

• What’s the money?

• What’s the perceived value?

• What’s the measurable value?

• What’s the social value?

• What’s the objective?

• What am I hoping for?

• What is the outcome likely to be?

• What if it isn’t?

• Who gets hurt?

• Who benefits?

• What are the elements?

• What has been my past experience?

• What is my experience-based knowledge?

• Should I counsel anyone?

• Do I have to decide now?

• Is this temporary or permanent?

• Do I trust the other person?

• What’s the deadline or the urgency?

• What is my gut telling me?

Keep in mind that all decisions involve some sort of risk. Risk involves and creates fear. The greater the risk, the more measured, deliberate and collaborative the process. It’s always a judgment call, and fear often interferes with sound judgment.

The decision to buy is made emotionally, and then justified logically. You make the decision, and then defend it — sometimes to a fault.

The phrase “no-brainer” has always bothered me in the decision-making process. When someone says, “It’s a no-brainer” to me, I become alarmed. What they’re saying is, “Don’t think about it, just do it.” Not good. All decisions are “brainers.”

To help you on the positive side of “decide,” ask yourself:

• Am I doing what’s best for myself, or my company?

• Am I taking the high road?

• Am I choosing the best value?

• Am I at peace with myself?

On the negative side of “decide,” ask yourself:

• Am I making an excuse to do it, even though I doubt the validity of it?

• Am I justifying it before the facts are gathered?

• Am I justifying it after the fact, and I knew it was a mistake?

• Am I procrastinating?

• Am I saying, “It’s the lesser of two evils”?

• Am I only getting buy-in before the fact to mitigate blame?

Fear of loss is greater than desire to gain, and fear of being wrong is more powerful than risk of being right. Leaders emerge as they become fearless.

As you’re trying to get others to decide on you and your product or service, keep in mind how you make your decisions. The better you understand yourself, the more powerful you’ll be at “getting a favorable decision.”


Gitomer is the author of "The Sales Bible" and "The Little Red Book of Selling." President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at trainone.com. He can be reached at salesman@gitomer.com.

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