It sometimes seems that one of the hardest things you and I are called upon to do, by ourselves or others, is to ‘choose’ between ‘alternatives’.
It has been said many times by many people that whatever we do or say we are in some way ‘selling’ something and if you choose to look at it in a certain way that’s true.
You could say that I am ‘selling’ right now, ‘selling’ my ideas and insights to those who are interested in what I have to say.
There’s no need for money to change hands – that is not part of a ‘sales’ process, and neither is anything else that you see, hear or read unless it is done as part of that money exchange process.
You or I can easily ‘buy in’ to an idea, concept or proposition without money being involved.
I said, ‘buy in’, and that’s the converse of the ‘selling’ idea because when you and I ‘buy’ we are also ‘selling’ something to ourselves.
The buying decision is really a ‘sale’. When we make that decision, we, not the salesperson ((if there is one) are ‘closing the sale’!
What’s important – despite what people deeply embedded in ‘sales’ and ‘selling’ might think, is not the ‘seller’ but the buyer because that’s where the decision is made.
The buyer is also engaged in selling, as the buyer will often sell the sales person on the idea that they are not going to purchase whatever is being offered!
It’s not so much ‘caveat emptor’ but ‘caveat venditor’ – let the seller beware – because in these days of ‘rich information’ it’s the buyer who always has control.
And that applies to everything from deciding on a political representative to purchasing a bag of potatoes (it’s up to you to decide whether there is actually much difference between the two!)
However, the fact that we have control presents you and I as buyers with a problem.
‘Back in the day’ things were different.
There wasn’t a great deal of choice.
We were given information through advertising in newspapers and magazines, on billboards, and maybe during the ‘intermission’ in the cinema, about what was ‘on offer’ for us to buy.
Life was much simpler, and the sellers were in control because information was limited, and different sources of information were cumbersome.
Buyers had less choice.
But now, now there is a plethora of information, it’s everywhere, we cannot get away from it.
It’s pushed at us through our phones, through the internet, through the broadcast media and through the print media.
And people discuss things more widely because there is more to discuss about any particular subject, simply because there is so much more information available.
And along with more information there is more ‘choice’.
There are hundreds of different views on any topic you care to name.
There are hundreds of different product or service ‘solutions’ to any problem or need you care to mention.
Every different product, service or opinion has it own ‘unique selling point’ and very often each is promoted at THE solution or THE answer to the requirement needing to be met.
And they will all be promoted as the ‘only’ or ‘best’ or ‘true’ or ‘real’ answer to what you are looking for, even though they aren’t.
Each one of them is put forward as the ‘best’ answer for you.
But that’s not true, and you and I know that, and here’s where making a choice between all the possible ‘solutions’ we might wish to ‘buy’ to meet our particular requirement gets difficult.
First, each product, opinion or service is presented as the ‘only’ one you’ll need when you really require a combination or parts of one and elements of another to meet your particular requirement. There are multiple ‘treatments’ or ‘solution’ to any particular problem or requirement and different people need different or multiple ‘solutions’ according to their specific needs
Second, the information you and I get about each alternative is presented (in most cases) from the point of view of whoever is promoting it – what ‘it’ (the product, service or opinion) does or means, rather than focussing on the benefit it will provide for you, the buyer.
Third, product, service and opinion marketing attempts to develop a ‘loyalty’ factor, sometimes justified, often not, towards the source of that provision. The object of which is to make you and I feel some sort of ‘guilt’ for not going along with a particular offering. This creates the illusion that ‘brand loyalty’ is something to be applauded.
It’s all designed to make it difficult for you and me as ‘buyers’ to make a considered decision, to consider different options, or all the options, or to choose a combination of ‘solutions’ from different sources to more closely match our requirement.
To reduce our power to control the relationship or the transaction, to promote the idea of the need to get a good ‘deal’, to do ‘better’ than our peers – other buyers.
To make us think we’ve ‘won’ when we haven’t.
You see, buying is not a competition. You and I are not competing with other buyers – even though those who are ‘selling’ would like us t think we are.
You and I are buying for ourselves. We really don’t care what the next man or woman is buying. Or we shouldn’t because if we do then those who are doing the selling to us have ‘won’ the game by manipulating us into that state.
For any given situation and for any individual there are multiple solutions, therapies or treatments.
The ‘right’ answer to this ‘multiple choice question’ – “How do I meet my requirement or fix my problem” – is different for every individual.
You and I will choose different combinations of opinion, product and service to meet our needs, our requirements, our philosophies, so don’t be pressured into anything before you’ve gone through the process of properly selling it to yourself.
That’s what effective buying is all about – multiple choice.