The Unconscious Way People Make Decisions
When you watch children, it’s very clear what they like and don’t like.
If they like it, they beg for it until they get it (or continuing begging if they don’t get it). If they don’t like something, they refuse to engage or even cry if forced (e.g. taking medicine or eating vegetables).
My dogs are pretty much the same. They also beg. They don’t cry, however. They just squirm or even bite if being forced or run away if able.
Adults are not much different and it’s hard to understand. Most still pursue what they like and run away from what they don’t like. The strange thing is that adults have figured out what they don’t like may be good for them.
Yet, so many people will avoid:
- Going to the dentist
- Going to the doctor
- Eating more vegetables and natural foods
- Buying life insurance
- Writing a will
- Saving money
Like little children, they avoid what they don’t like. Other people however will do the activities on the above list even when they don’t like it. They do it because it’s useful. So it appears that somewhere along the path of growing up, some people never transition from the modus operandi of “like/don’t like” to “useful/not useful.”
I did not see this for myself until sitting in a personal growth class, many years ago. I had been unconscious to the fact that I operated my life on the criteria of like/don’t like. In an instant, I saw that it is very difficult to have a successful future operating this way.
I write this as I think about life insurance agents, my customers.
Agents go out every day and tell people to get life insurance but they speak to a lot of like/don’t like people. I heard Bill Bacharach, a well-known trainer in the industry, advise to avoid people who “don’t get it.” Or in my words, when you encounter a person immaturely operating their life on a like/don’t like basis, don’t try and sell them life insurance. They don’t get it.
Is it possible to encounter such a person and transform how they make decisions (and have a new buyer)? I think so.
Here’s a Sample Conversation to Uncover Why People Don't Buy and Turn Them into Buyers
(P = Prospect, A=Agent)
P: I don’t really know why we agreed to meet with you. We really can’t afford any insurance.
A: I do help people get enough insurance but that’s not really why I wanted to talk with you. Before I explain that, let me ask you a question. Since we are not going to talk about insurance, why did you agree to meet?
P: I’m not sure; I guess you might have something useful to tell us.
A: About what?
P: About how to handle our money better.
A: Why, do you feel it’s not handled well now?
P: Well, I make a good living but it always seems we are behind, never able to do the things we want to do or things that are important, like get enough insurance.
A: Do you think that everyone has priorities?
A: What are yours?
P: That confuses me sometimes.
A: Really? Is that your new BMW in the driveway?
A: Do you have a loan on it?
A: Well, then I guess your priorities are clear. You have decided to put your family in debt and use your limited cash in order to drive a new German automobile instead of those things you previously alluded to as being important. Would you agree that people set their priorities with their checkbook?
P: Yes. And I don’t really feel good about it.
A: I think you do or you wouldn’t have bought the car. Do you notice that people do what makes them feel good today?
A: Do you think this leads to the best decisions?
P: No, not at all, I think it’s a little immature.
A: What do you think is mature?
P: Making decisions based on the long run and those things that are really important. Thinking about my family’s needs before what I want.
A: What’s really important to you?
P: The health of my family, being able to send my kids to good schools, making sure they are happy and protecting them
A: Do you feel you have made those things a priority—is the BMW consistent with that?
A: Would you like to get on track and start living consistent with your priorities and making financial decisions consistent with them?
A: Where do you think you should start?
P: Well, I know I need to start placing money in a college fund and I know I don’t have enough insurance should anything happen to me.
A: And heaven forbid you become disabled; are those you love protected?
P: I’m not sure if I have enough of that protection through work.
A: You tell me. If I could help you with the items you just mentioned so that you start making financial decisions consistent with your visions for your family, those things that are priorities and living the vision of being a responsible father that you have for yourself, would that be valuable for you?
P: Yes, that would be unbelievable.
Therefore, if you provide a product or service and find people resistant to buying, are you simply encountering the like/don’t like model of decision making? If so, then focus on helping the prospect with that issue before discussing what you offer.