When it comes to selling your product or service, the devil truly is in the details.
Despite what bad salesmen might tell you, people don’t buy based on features or price. Decision making is rooted primarily in the part of our brain that controls emotions.
Science shows that regardless of whether we are buying a car, purchasing a pair of jeans or choosing a place to eat lunch, our emotions are making the call and we will oftentimes disregard hard facts to make sure that our emotional brain is satisfied.
Allow me to illustrate by getting a little nerdy. Neurobiologist Antonio Damasio created the Somatic Marker hypothesis. The hypothesis refutes the old neuroscience that our decision making is rooted in logic. Damazio studied people who had damaged their limbic systems and were unable to produce emotions. He noted that these people were unable to make even the simplest decisions and became paralyzed with endless logical deliberation.
The findings of the study were that our emotions are responsible for decision making. A product’s features justify — in a logical fashion — emotional response.
Features become convenient logical consequences that we are excited to retain or decide to live without based on how we feel about the brand or product. We typically only examine features to logically support the emotional decision that we have already made.
I frequently hear from sales teams that they lose a sale in the features conversation. What they don’t realize is that, without an emotional connection to the product, they never had a chance at the sale in the first place. Features help us rationalize purchases, but emotional connection must come first.
As an example, ever ask someone why they bought the new iPhone? People will tell you things like, “it has a faster processor, a bigger hard drive and a better camera,” which are criteria that multiple products could satisfy, and at a lower cost. Push harder, and you’ll likely get, “I just like it more, alright? Apple is just a better brand!” We are often unable to articulate the emotional — and often subconscious — connections we have brands.
The best way to sell your brand is to emulate the emotional connection first, and sell the emotional benefits to your product or service second.
An indication that you aren’t selling emotion is if you think price is paramount. Any brand, product or service devoid of emotion is forced to compete on price and become a commodity.
A simple exercise to find your product’s emotional connection is to ask yourself what situation(s) must exist for your customer to pay double what they do now. Make a list of your answers. Then triple the price, then quadruple it and so on. Developing a brand around these answers will make your value proposition stronger, and you will likely gain a better understanding of your target market.
Ultimately, we are all at the mercy of our emotions. The moment you start selling on features and ignoring the emotional connection to your brand is the moment you start losing the sale.
Grant Gooding is a brand strategist & CEO of Lenexa-based Proof Positioning, a firm that uses consumer insights to show business owners how to build a powerful brand by knowing, not guessing. Grant is passionate about educating in the areas of entrepreneurship and brand philosophy.