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Why you can’t reason your way to a sale

The good news, it has never been easier to reach large numbers of people…the bad news, it has never been more difficult to actually connect with them. And bombarding our  audience with large amounts of infill and information, features and specs, is not the path to move, persuade, convince – and sell.

 You see, reasons lead to conclusions, while emotions lead to actions. And every single decision we make, including every buying decision certainly, is rooted in – and driven by – emotion.

So when cutting through today’s buying clutter, creating emotional connections quickly and early is vital, whatever it is we are selling or marketing.

The Affective Domain

This reasons>conclusions/emotions>actions categorization isn’t my take, and it isn’t new. It comes from the Taxonomy of Learning Domains formulated by a group of researchers led by Benjamin Bloom in 1956.

However, it is new to take the way we are wired as humans, apply these learning domains, particularly the affective domain, involving our feelings, emotions, attitudes and decisions, and lay them over a selling preamble.

To amplify this a bit, we learn mental skills, acquire new physical skills and develop our attitudes as we perform the activities of our daily living. These domains of learning can be categorized as cognitive domain (knowledge), psychomotor domain (skills) and affective domain (attitudes).

The affective domain is categorized into five subdomains, which include:

  • Receiving Phenomena:the awareness of feelings and emotions as well as the ability to utilize selected attention.
  • Responding to Phenomena:active participation of the learner.
  • Valuing:the ability to see the worth of something and express it.
  • Organization:ability to prioritize one value over another and create a unique value system.
  • Characterization:the ability to internalize values and let them control our behavior and actions, including buying decisions.

How it works in real life

Here’s a little story. Let’s say you go into see your doctor for your annual physical. A couple of weeks later you get a letter from him or her with a bunch of numbers around such acronyms as HDL, VLDL, and LDL, accompanied by a long, detailed explanation about a need to make “lifestyle changes.”

The doctor is trying to reason with you so you will conclude it is in your best interest to modify your diet and exercise regimen so you can live longer. Does it create a change in behavior? Probably not. In fact, the odds are nine to one against you changing. 

John Kotter, a former Harvard Business School professor, says, “Behavior change happens mostly by speaking to people’s feelings.” In other words, by creating an emotional connection.

Unfortunately, “that kind of emotional persuasion isn’t taught in business schools, and it doesn’t come naturally to the technocrats who run things — the engineers, scientists, lawyers, doctors, accountants, and managers who pride themselves on disciplined, analytical thinking.”

Let’s go back to our post-physical lab numbers. What if instead of that long, detailed explanation of lab work results your doctor sent, they delivered a short note that simply reads, “You must change your behavior or you will die. And soon.” That likely will get your attention. Because it has made an emotional connection.

You cannot reason your way to a sale!

As sales trainer Jeffery Gitomer says, “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.

Help them. Arouse their brain, Pique their curiosity. Create an emotional connection. Do that in the first few seconds of an interaction, and you’ll earn the opportunity to move, persuade, convince – and eventually – sell 

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