Why? Because.

Last week I wrote about making sure you ask the ‘so what’ question when faced with a barrage of facts. But that is not the question people ask most often.

Human beings are hardwired to always be in search of reason. That is why the question that most of us ask is ‘why’. Cast your mind back to your last conversation with a 3 year old. That is a good thing and a bad thing.

When we train Sell$mart for Retailers attendees often find our approach unlike the usual training, so we always give people the reasoning and the evidence (the science) behind our recommendations. Once they understand and believe the evidence, they embrace the approach and get great results.

One such strategy we train is how to use the word ‘because’. I won’t bore you with all the proof here, but it is scientifically proven that correct use of the word ‘because’ when requesting someone to comply with something is HUGELY more effective than when the same request is made without the because. And the kicker is this: it does not matter what the ‘reason’ is that follows after the ‘because’. In fact it could be a completely illogical or self-evident reason, and compliance rates still shoot up.

There are two ways you can view and use this information. One is to figure out how you can use it in the sales environment you have in your store.

The other way is possibly more interesting. Once you understand that people stop thinking once they have been given a reason, you understand something fundamental about human beings. Including yourself.

Bear with me while I get somewhat esoteric, but there is an important point at the end of this.

The risk we (all) run is that once we have locked in a ‘reason’ or an explanation, our mind actively seeks out affirmation of that belief in an effort to avoid cognitive dissonance. We effectively embark on a cycle of re-enforcement that entrenches that belief because our minds ignore contrary evidence, and seeks out supporting evidence.

And sometimes we get it wrong.

The problem is, once the belief is set, it is really hard to change. Really hard. And if you are wrong in your belief, it makes for an erroneous judgement every time you rely on that belief to make a decision.

Examining what you believe is critically important. This requires you to separate facts from beliefs. (What you know is not always a fact, it is often a belief.)

Enough philosophy, back to Retail. What do you believe about…

  • How men shop differently from women?
  • Who makes for a great employee?
  • How you should display product X
  • What is the best way to advertise?
  • What customer Y prefers?
  • How the bag should be handed to the customer?
  • When/how people will steal from your shop?

I could go on.

The point is that false beliefs sometimes masquerade as ‘experience’.

The questions raised are interesting to say the least.

  • Have you become a victim of the ‘reasons’ you slapped onto events 20 years ago, and have never re-examined?
  • How much better will your store/ business be doing if you were prepared to let go of erroneous beliefs and instead sought out the real reason?
  • Do you still operate, sell, display (etc) the same way you always did while the world around you have changed?

These are tough questions. But retail is not for sissies…