In business, your success hinges on the decision-making process you use to solve problems. Sound decisions are determined by making the right choices for the right reasons from a range of potential options.

Not only does this influence where your company or your sales team is heading, the choices you make also are reflected in how successful you will be in communicating your ideas with employees and customers.

Be disciplined in your thinking

One of the biggest mistakes that any decision-maker can make is to be misguided by subjective information—personal feelings, biases or opinions, rather than objective data—verifiable, measurable facts.

Granted, experts on human behavior will point out that most people are highly susceptible to emotional inputs in their thinking. There’s no escaping that fact.

Where you have your work cut out for you is in being disciplined in how you let subjectivity influence the way you look at the problems you need to solve in your business.

“Let’s look at the actual numbers”

The following example illustrates the dangers of not knowing the difference between what you know is true versus what you feel is true.

Recently, I was coaching VP of Sales of a fast-growing, successful company. He described to me in great detail how both he and his CEO had really strong feelings about a particular competitor in their market. At the heart of what he had to say was a sense that this competitor was stealing business from them and that they were powerless to stop it.

Asking him objective-based questions about the problem he was struggling with revealed a lot about his decision-making process.

I asked him: “Specifically, how much business are you losing to this competitor right now?”

He indicated in his reply: “Well, we are losing tons of business to them. We lose to them all the time. It feels as though we lose each time we go up against them.”

I forced him to take a step back and be objective, to look at the actual numbers and see if the facts supported his feelings about that competitor. The results were very surprising.

October’s sales data indicated of all the deals lost, less than 10% were as a result of this particular competitor. Next, we looked at data for November and December. Again, similar results. The company they felt was responsible for so much lost business was, in fact, behind about one in ten losses.

Keep problems in their proper perspective

In this example, when the VP of Sales looked at the data, he quickly realized he had been communicating incorrectly with both his sales team and his CEO. The competitor in question was taking away less business than they thought.

Up until that point, he had been ready to embark on a new sales strategy and new tactics to address when he perceived as his company’s biggest challenger in the marketplace. It would have been a mistake. The firm would have been focusing all their resources in one place, rather than solving the larger challenge of determining what was behind the majority of lost sales.

Keep problems in their proper perspective. Always look at the numbers first. By demanding facts, it will either confirm what you feel is true, or it will show you it’s time to reconsider your assumptions, rethink your strategy and retool the messages you send both inside and outside your organization.

Author's Bio: 

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions ( Colleen has studied the habits of the top sales performers to complement conventional sales wisdom with proven strategies that get results in today’s tough economy.

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