So why do people buy? Sounds like a simple question, correct? Conventional analysis dictates that people buy mainly on emotion. This is true to a point, whether it is a business to business purchase or a business to consumer purchase. Yet, is there more of a symbiotic relationship between the emotional and logical reasons that much of the present day analysis overlooks? Yes.
There are a number of marketing thought leaders past and present who stress the importance of tapping a customer’s emotional needs when attracting them to a product. Mark Magnacca in his immensely insightful article, How to Communicate What Really Matters to Your Audience: What’s in It for Them? states, “Deep down, emotion almost always trumps the logic when making a buying decision. Finding the So What Benefit helps you connect to that emotion.”
Seth Godin in his groundbreaking book All Marketers are Liars makes a similar argument. “Successful marketers don’t tell the truth. They don’t talk about features or even benefits. Instead, they tell a story. A story we want to believe.” In this book, Godin makes the point that people buy on emotion and tapping that emotion with an authentic story will win business.
Godin and Magnacca are not wrong, but couple their analysis with the sales process and one realizes that winning business does not stop at this point. People notice a product due to an emotional desire. People inquire about products when they trust the seller to sufficiently satisfy their need. After this, the paradigm shifts. Emotion yields while logic ensues.
Looking at a typical sales cycle (Figure 1), once contact is made with a customer the necessity to evaluate needs and present solutions become paramount; at which point coupling the emotional desire that brought forth the opportunity must be placed firmly upon a foundation of logic. In other words, although the logical reason for buying a product may not capture the prospect’s attention, it is a necessity in closing the sale. Astute marketers will make this connection and infuse it into the sales cycle. Done properly, this will result in a higher likelihood of closing the sale and a better opportunity to add value.
Making the connection is the key. Marketing is tasked with building into the sales process a flow that brings the customer from consideration to close without every knowing the process was formatted long before it started.
For example, electronics stores that have a significant amount of “open box” (returned) stock often discount such products significantly. A marketer looking to encourage customers to consider previously returned products, say a video camera, may appeal to the customers’ emotions by citing the fact that memories can be preserved at a lower price. This, mainly emotional plea to motivate a customer, is underscored by marketing through the creation of a story that is antithetic enough for the customer to buy without regret.
Marketers not intimately familiar with the sale process may believe their work is done. It is not. If during the middle phases of the sales process the sales person’s pitch included the fact that all electronic equipment, by its very nature no matter where purchased, has a propensity towards failure in comparison to most products, the foundation for a value added sale is established. Stating a boring, unemotional fact about electronics that the customer probably already knows will not motivate him or her in the door, but it does lay the foundation for a better sale.
Perhaps the added purchase of an extended warranty would make the purchase of an open box item more palatable? Peace of mind is a great emotion to tap, but it cannot be done without a logical connection to an agreed upon fact. Even simple add-on items become easier to sell when logic is infused in the sales pitch. How about a case and tripod? Prospects will be less apt to buy such items unless a logical foundation was previously laid.
Marketing professionals’ job is tough and there is no quick and easy way to design a sales process that will attract and close the most business. Too much focus on the emotional reasons to buy, as well as too much focus on the logical reasons to buy, is a mistake. Balance and understanding the sales process is an absolute necessity.
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