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Identifying Decision Making Strategies

The classic model for decision-making is as follows:

  1. Analyse the problem or situation
  2. Generate alternative solutions
  3. Pick one of the alternatives
  4. Implement the chosen alternative
  5. Monitor the results of that choice

People actually make decisions on a highly individual basis. It is important to understand how people make decisions when you want to influence the decision they make. You will want to know his or her decision strategy. A decision strategy is the process a person typically goes through in making a certain kind of decision. Any given individual may have several decision-making strategies for different kinds of decisions, such a buying a car, purchasing a computer, approving budgets.

Bandler and Grindler, the founders of NLP, divided the decision strategy into three phases:

1. Motivation

In this phase a person becomes interested in considering making a decision. The person is ‘deciding to decide’

2. Decision

Once interested, the individual in this phase decides on a particular course of action (such as buying a particular car or a computer system or approving or disapproving a budget). The decision not to do something is also a decision and gives you as much useful information as the decision to go ahead with a particular course of action.

3. Verification

Here the individual verifies that his or her decision was or was not a good one. (Sometimes called ‘buyer’s remorse’)

In the Motivation stage people are only motivated to consider looking for another car when their present car starts to give trouble or some people may be motivated by impulse when they see a shiny new sports car. In the business-to-business role people are motivated when they have a business problem that is causing enough pain to demand a solution. However the case may arise that you as a sales person needs to uncover the problem/pain to provide an opportunity to solve a problem. Or alternatively a company sees an opportunity to do something more efficiently or to grow sales for example; this again provides the motivation to look for a solution.

In the decision phase some people examine every alternative. Others need only two or three alternatives from which to choose. People use their perceptual modes, (representational systems) to make a decision. They want to see proof, hear about or have an intuitive feeling. They may be concerned how others will react to their decision and how they will be perceived for making this decision.

The verification is as equally individual. Some may experience buyer’s remorse whilst others may spend time justifying their decision.

There are numerous combinations of the decision-making strategy.

Elicit The Decision Making Strategy

1. Motivation

What prompted you to buy your last ___________________?

How did you decide you wanted or needed to ___________?

2. Decision

What factors went into your last decision to ___________?

When you made your last purchase of __________, what were the deciding factors in your mind?

How did you reach the decision to ___________?

What factors were most important in your decision to ______?

3. Verification

How did you feel after you decided to _________?

Asked in a conversational way you will discover how your prospect makes buying decisions.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colly Graham
First working for a Fortune 500 company in fast moving consumer goods, my career progressed from selling capital equipment, financial services to internet services, with a wide management experience in both telephone and field sales, training and development of sales people. My forty years of practical experience of selling and the ability to empathize with sales people and establish immediate rapport and credibility as a trainer, NLP Master Practitioner I have trained and consulted with over 1,000 companies since the formation of salesxcellence


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