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Rational selling vs. emotional buying


"While most providers sell on the basis of technical competence, most buyers buy on the basis of emotion.” I came across this line in The Trusted Advisor and it has been rolling around in my head for the past couple days. Put another way, rather than selling people on what your product will do for them, you should spend time demonstrating how its outcome will make them feel.

Are you selling to a busy business owner? How much time might your product save her each day or month so she can get home earlier to her family or have more time for her team? What operational headaches might this help her avoid? Will her clients or team love it and if so why? While what the product does is important, identifying and demonstrating how it can alleviate pain they are experiencing or help them achieve wins they’re missing out on can be much more powerful.

Recently I’ve been thinking about the impact of machine learning on how companies sell and build trust with their clients and a New Yorker piece on the topic gives another perspective on technical abilities vs. emotional desires, “While a self-driving school bus does not seem technically too far off, few parents can imagine putting their kids on a bus without a grownup to make sure they don’t bash one another the whole way to school.” While some school districts might want to invest in these when the technology is available, parents might feel, “I don’t trust that kind of technology (yet) with my child’s safety.”

More than once I’ve thought about buying my mother an Instacart subscription to save her the hassle of grocery shopping. In the end I’ve always decided against it because I believe she’d find shopping online frustrating and view the service as an unnecessary luxury.

To bring yourself into better alignment with the people you seek to serve, it's important to remember that companies tend to start with the question, “what does the customer want?” Meanwhile your customer may be asking, “What will my friends/family/colleagues think?”, “Will using this make me look/feel good?”, “Does it align with my values?”

Go Forth Boldly

“Only emotion endures”

Ezra Pound


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