Irrational Forces of Persuasion

Business owners and their sales and marketing teams benefit immensely when they take the time to understand more about the quirky and irrational nature of effective persuasion. Human psychology is often incorporated into consumer driven marketing and sales, but sometimes gets trumped by market and segment analytics in a B2B (business-to-business) context. For B2B businesses, giving sufficient credence to the role that humans play in the persuasion dance is an often overlooked but excellent place to start your go-to-market plan development or refinement. For insight into enhancing and improving business success, exploring more about the actual human receivers of all of our messaging and sales and marketing efforts can yield valuable insights on how they choose to act or not act as a result of our best efforts.

In a world where analytics and objective rational data are overwhelmingly available, we are often reminded that human behavior and decision making does not always subscribe to nice neat predictive formulas! Science suggests that it is in fact more irrational factors than rational ones that guides our decisions. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic,a Professor of Business Psychology at the University College London, writes, “… effective persuasion highlights the irrationality of human thinking. We may be living in a data-driven world, but that does not make people more logical.”

Psychological research from UCL suggests that if we want to effectively persuade someone to buy our solutions or take our course or join our team, we should recognize that 90% of the time it is the receiver of a message (e.g. Offer, value proposition, proposal) who is more likely to influence the effectiveness of the persuasion than the prowess of the persuaders (e.g. Sales professionals, marketers, executives).

So for starters, putting some of the focus on these receivers back into our planning strategies and execution plans is critical for sustained business success. In workshops designed to hone messaging, value proposition and offer strategies and plans, I passionately urge teams to “start with the customer,” and challenge their inside-out notions of value with “I’m the customer, so what does it mean to ME? Why do I care about … how fast, amazing, beautiful, useful YOU think the solution is?” The very structure of our workshops are designed around this critical view that there are human beings on the other end that require and even deserve relevant them-centered (vs you-centered) engagement and value!

Getting to know how our receivers might make those irrational decisions can be a great foundation from which to challenge the status quo for go-to-market. Benefits are derived from considering key findings from the psychology of the receivers role in effective persuasion including:

• People yield to persuasion because they cannot tolerate ambiguity.
• Few things are more persuasive than fear.
• Persuasion is emotional first and rational second.

How do you incorporate this psychology in your own planning? Could you use it to better inform the creation of thoughtful A/B testing and marketing campaigns? Could you use it to formulate better sales playbook to raise awareness of this dynamic for your sales members and provide them meaningful and resonant messaging and support for ways to engage potential customers (the humans decision makers)?

At Lumen Strategies, we work with the executive teams to identify and develop pragmatic ways to go deeper in understanding the profile of your prospective customers and helping you bring the most relevant and valuable elements of what you do forward in your branding, your messaging, your offers, and your go-to-market execution. Contact us to learn more about our Go-To-Market Opportunity workshops!

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