Second Level Thinking in Sales

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I’ve recently read a book title “The Most Important Thing” written by Howard Marks, aimed at stock traders and investors the book is designed to help the reader think like the major players in the world of investing.

One of the key aspects of the book is to adopt the second level thinking methodology which requires you to dig deeper and think differently to everyone else. I realised that the second level thinking mantra can in fact be implemented into a sales strategy too.

the most important thing

Sales qualification is about understanding the deep underlying problems and aspects of the customers’ needs and business, a lot of sales people tend to drop the ball at this point. Whilst the majority of sales professionals asks the mediocre questions that really offer no information, the exceptional sales people have realised that this is when you ask the deep questions to dig deeper.

The exceptional sales person will zero in on the questions which may seem awkward at first, but are designed to fully understand if the person has authority, money or time to carry on with the negotiation process. At this point the sales person should consider the answers and if in fact the negotiations should be saved for another time or carried on with.

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What is second level thinking?

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First level thinkers – “Can you pass on what we’ve just spoken about to whoever is in charge?”

Second level thinkers would ask – “Do we need to have a conversation or include anyone else at this stage that will have decision making power?”

First level thinker – “What’s the potential of getting the decision maker to sign this off?”

Second level thinkers – “Are you in the position right now to make this a commitment?”

First level thinking is superficial and every sales person does it, chances are you’ll see the customers eyes glaze over due to the same questions being asking over and over again. The problem starts with the mentality of the sales person as they believe the questions they are asking are of relevance, in reality these answers can all be obtained further down the cycle.

To think on a second level basis you need to consider and take on board the following:

– What us the likely outcome in terms of pricing?

– Which price is most likely to be agreed upon?

– What are the chances I’m right?

– What are my competitors doing differently?

– Are my expectations different from my competitor?

These are just some general considerations to think of in your next cycle, the idea being that once you’ve understood and practicing going through these thoughts you can create a long term habit.

As the customer shops around with your competitors they’ll be inadvertently asked the same questions over and over again, think of the old style of insurance quote process before the comparison websites, which will make them loath the questions and the person asking them.

Asking the thought provoking questions tends to ignite the thought processes of a customer, second level thinking gives you the chance to ask the deep questions which provide you with answers that can be followed up with a new set of questions.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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