“Why do we buy with our hearts but sell with our heads?” – Discussion with John Smibert.
Believe it or not, business customers say they buy with their heart, not their head.
Customer behaviour guru, Cian McLoughlin, has dedicated himself for the last 6 years to talking with businesses after they have made a significant buying decision. Cian has explored why and how they made the decision.
The bottom line is that buyers have told Cian that they buy with their heart. Well maybe not specifically in those words – yet that is certainly what they are saying.
Cian’s research clearly shows that cultural fit is number one bullet in terms of why companies are making decisions to go with one vendor over another, the quality of the people, and related things, which are far more relevant to interpersonal skills and people than they are to products and pricing. That doesn’t rationally make sense, but the reality is the customers are saying “if it is apples for apples I’m always going to go with the person or the company or the cultural fit that most aligns with where I am and where I feel my organisation is going”.
So with this revelation think about how you are selling? Are you selling to the customer’s heart and the gut – or are you doing all of your selling to the head? Are you applying EQ versus IQ in the way you sell?
View or read the full interview below to learn more.
Cian McLoughlin is a guru in win/loss analysis, he’s a speaker, an author, and a leading adviser to the sales fraternity.
John: Welcome back B2B salespeople, and particularly my members in the Strategic Selling Group – great to have you with us! I have Cian McLoughlin with me.
Cian: Hello, John – nice to be here!
John: It’s great to have you, Cian. We had a little discussion a while ago and you mentioned something to me, and that is; “People aren’t buying what we’re selling, they’re buying us and our stories”.
John: I’d like you to elaborate a little bit on that. I know you’ve got a lot of good content around that.
Cian: Look, this is a view I think I’ve formulated over the last number of years, and it really relates to the fact that much of the conversations and much of the feedback I get when I talk to decision makers about why they made their decisions… It isn’t about the product, it isn’t about the price point, it is about the people they’ve engaged with and the connections they’ve made with those people. That is fascinating to me, and I think that’s what has led me to the belief that us and the stories that we tell and the way that we engage is inextricably linked with the decisions that customers make.
John: I think that’s absolutely right. If we go back to the product, in this day and age there’s not many products that are really differentiated from other products. More and more, even big, massive investments people make, building bridges or whatever, is commoditised to a large extent. So, how are they going to make that decision?
Cian: It’s really interesting, I think we like to think that our features and our functions are so special and so unique. To some degree maybe they are, but a lot of the time from a prospective customer’s perspective it is apples for apples, they struggle to differentiate, and that’s what they’re really asking us to do, help them differentiate. As part of my new book that I’m writing – hopefully it will be out later this year, the working title is the Decision Conundrum: Why We Buy With Our Hearts But Sell With Our Heads – I’m exploring those topics, I’m exploring things like pre-existing personal biases and the impact of things like neuroscience and neuro-linguistics and persuasion science on how people actually come to decisions.
John: I tell you, I’ve done a lot of interviews with Ian Lowe and he’s an expert on that topic, and that whole concept of we’ve got three brains, the stomach brain, the heart-brain and the head brain, there’s more neurons down here than there are up here, and people do make decisions based on that gut feel.
Cian: Many people will have seen that Simon Sinek video “Start With Why”, and one of the things he talks about in there is he said, “Why do we say, ‘It just doesn’t feel right?’ Why do we talk about our gut instinct in this day and age when we’re so developed and we’re so rational in our thinking?” Because the reality is we haven’t evolved that much and our limbic brain is still guiding a lot of our decisions. We’re asking ourselves, “Do I like and trust this person? Who do I know that’s worked with them? Can I connect with them on a personal level, is there some level of emotional connection or congruency?” We may not even be asking that question consciously, but subconsciously we’re asking that, and that determines do we feel more or less connected.
John: You say we haven’t developed a lot. The reality is, I hope we don’t because to me that’s being human.
Cian: It is.
John: When I’m buying something I want to express my human nature, I want to use that to make the decision. Yes, I’ll try and be logical, but ultimately if I like the person I’m buying from, I like the concept and feel of the company I’m dealing with, I’m going to be much more comfortable.
Cian: Exactly. We hear that all the time, cultural fit is ‘number one with a bullet’ in terms of why companies are making decisions to go with one vendor over another, the quality of the people, and all of these things which are far more related to interpersonal skills and people than they are to products and pricing. That doesn’t rationally make sense, but the reality is if it is apples for apples I’m always going to go with the person or the company or the cultural fit that most aligns with where I am and where I feel my organisation is going.
John: It’s a great message, and we do buy with our heart, not with our head. What’s the key message you want to get across to the audience out there?
Cian: Well, what I’m hoping to do in this new book is I’m actually hoping to create a framework which looks at the whole process of B2B selling from a different perspective, less about the IQ and more about the EQ, and really help guide salespeople in terms of how to tap into both of those. If your product is terrible it’s never going to sell, that’s absolutely fine, so the reality is we need to be selling on both levels. We need to be selling at the EQ level, helping people make that decision, and then need to be selling on the IQ level to help them justify the decision they’ve already reached. If we can do both those things, we’re ‘quids in’! (an Irish saying).
Cian: You’re going to struggle.
John: Okay. Great message, and I want to talk to you about some of those other things you mentioned, IQ versus EQ and so on. Will you come back and let’s have more discussions?
Cian: I sure will – thanks, John!
John: Thanks, Cian, and thank you very much for the audience out there! When this is published, make sure you comment and give me your feedback. And by the way, if you’ve got any topic you want me to address with Cian or anybody else amongst the people I interview, please let me know. Thank you very much, and look forward to seeing you next time!
More interviews with Cian McLoughlin:
- “What is win-loss analysis“
- “Create lasting value with win-loss analysis“
- “Win-loss analysis: Gaining customer buy in“
- “What customers say the great salespeople do differently”
- “Account Retention Strategies”
- “The downside of sales automation”
- “Right brain selling”
- “The secrets to a winning sales pitch“
- “A personal branding case study”
- “Four sales predictions that will impact you”
Your Invitation: I invite you to join the Strategic Selling group on LinkedIn where you can experience informative discussions with your peers and sales thought leaders on subjects like the one we have discussed here.
Please Share: If you valued this article, please share via your Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook social media platforms. I encourage you to join the conversation or ask questions. So feel free to add a comment on this post – I promise to respond. Please follow my LinkedIn post page and follow me here on the Strategic Selling Group. I also recommend you follow my associates in the SMA Sales Masterminds.
Your invitation to subscribe to this blog: Please feel free to SUBSCRIBE HERE