When to Sell with Facts and Figures, and When to Appeal to Emotions

When should salespeople sell with facts and figures, and when should we try to speak to the buyer’s emotional subconscious, instead? When do you talk to Mr. Intuitive, and when to Mr. Rational?

I’d argue that too often, selling to Mr. Rational leads to analysis paralysis, especially for complex products or services. And yet many of us continue to market almost exclusively to Mr. Rational. The result is that we spend too much time chasing sales opportunities that eventually stall out. We need to improve our ability to sell to Mr. Intuitive.

We default to selling to Mr. Rational because when we think of ourselves, we identify with our conscious rational mind. We can’t imagine that serious executives would make decisions based on emotion, because we view our emotional decisions as irrational and irresponsible.

But what if Mr. Intuitive has a logic of his own? In recent years, psychologists and behavioral economists have shown that our emotional decisions are neither irrational nor irresponsible. In fact, we now understand that our unconscious decisions follow a logic of their own. They are based on a deeply empirical mental processing system that is capable of effortlessly processing millions of bits of data without getting overwhelmed. Our conscious mind, on the other hand, has a strict bottleneck, because it can only process three or four new pieces of information at a time due to the limitations of our working memory.

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