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Patterns & Insights

Persuasion & The Art of Sales

by | Apr 28, 2018 | marketing, sales, strategy

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.
  • Challenge their inside-out notions of value which are obsessed with the features and capabilities you extol on your offer and are eager to share.
  • Challenge your team mates with, “I’m the customer, SO WHAT does it mean to me that your offer is ________________  ?”   <fill in the blank with the attributes you spout off to your prospective customers – fast, amazing, beautiful, intelligent, useful, etc.>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!  And yes, this holds true in a business-to-business context, not just in the consumer world.

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. Key findings about how to improve your message and offer strategy often surface from considering the psychology of persuasion and the role that the receivers of our messages and pitches play in the equation for effective persuasion. 

Some examples of statistically proven psychological truths of the role of the receiver in effective persuasion are: 

• 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 specifically in how you message and package your offers? Could you use it to better inform the creation of thoughtful A/B testing and marketing campaigns? Could you use it to formulate a 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 executive teams and business owners to identify and develop pragmatic ways to go deeper in understanding the profile of your prospective customers.  This understanding then grounds an exploration into how to bring forward the most relevant and valuable elements of what you do in your branding, your messaging, your offer structure, and your go-to-market execution. Contact us to learn more about our Go-To-Market Opportunity workshops.