Why is uncertainty critical in sales?

I ask this question having attended an excellent Sales Skills presentation in recent months. Grant Leboff introduced a number of interesting concepts to the audience that day.

One was his profound statement – “Certainty is NOT persuadable”. Think of something that in your mind you just know, there is no doubt about it being true. Now imagine how hard it would be for someone to get you change your mind on that view. With difficulty??

In the context of a sales situation what does certainty of a negative position regarding your offer mean to you? Well, if you think about a continuum between buying from you and deciding not to, being certain they do not need what you offer is not a good starting point!!

However, there is a process that you can go through that can make a dramatic difference to the prospective purchaser’s position and result in you making a sale. The reason for this is because certainty is just a belief. If you define a belief as “something that you CURRENTLY hold to be true” this explains why there is still an opportunity. However, the critical requirement is for you to get them to move from their certain belief to a level of uncertainty. Uncertainty is where beliefs are fluid and where what is held to be true can move.

Fundamentally, there are two things that you can do to transition a prospects mind from being certain they are not interested in your product or service. These are:

  • – Ask a good question
  • – Provide an insight

Let’s look at these as separate things for you to do and this will help you understand how they both create uncertainty, and as a result get you back in the game!

If you ask a good question, you give the prospect the chance to re-consider their position in order to answer you effectively. The way to know that you have asked a good question is that you see them stop and think. That thinking time is a sign that they are examining their position. As they answer it is your responsibility to listen to their response and look for a position change. However slight this may be, if a move has been made you should ask a follow-up question that digs deeper into the area where uncertainty has been created and look to help the move in position become more significant the more you question. It is worth remembering that the person asking the questions is controlling the conversation. By questioning skilfully you can seek to create enough uncertainty for you to feel able to persuade. In a sales scenario this persuasion is likely to involve getting agreement that your product or service would be wanted or needed by the prospect and has value in excess of your asking price.

The second way to create uncertainty is to provide an insight. Go back to the position of certainty you took earlier in this article. Now think, what could someone tell you related to that subject that could cause you to change your stance of certainty? It is likely it would be someone who you respected as knowing more than you about the subject and who, when they tell you something you were not aware of – provide an insight – would enable you to review your belief and either add uncertainty or in extreme cases, lead to you taking a new position of certainty that is contrary to your first belief. So, it is the sales person’s role in this scenario to know sufficient about the area related to their product or service to be trusted by the prospect sufficiently for them to move their belief and allow uncertainty to enter the discussion.

Uncertainty is what you, as a sales person, should be looking for as by definition this makes the prospect persuadable and increases your chances of a successful sale.

This may sound a little contrived, or even unethical. However, if you question appropriately and offer proper insights then in reality what you have done is to add value to the prospect through their interaction with you and taken them to a level of thought that they were not at before. This concept of adding value to the prospect through their interaction with you, through sound questioning and the ability to add good insights is what separates a great sales person from an average one. This is because, through the belief that they are adding value they are able to display genuine and positive confidence in their discussions and this in turn makes their product or service appear of more interest as this sense of value can be referred from the sales person to their product or service.

I hope you found this concept of seeing uncertainty as a positive and looking out for it interesting and if you would like to understand how you can use this I n your business please contact me on 07511 969690 or at rogerpemberton@actioncoach.com.

Thanks for reading.