Buyer's Gains and Costs

The buyer's desire to acquire something to better meet his needs is what forces him to talk with the seller. If I don’t want to acquire this, I wouldn’t communicate. There is one funny nuance: this "something" may not be the goods that the seller offers. For instance, just the opportunity to chat or bargain.

 

For simplicity sake, we still accept that the buyer is interested in the product. More precisely, in the seller’s promise that this product can somehow improve satisfaction. In order for this promise not to be empty, it must be convincing.

 

Persuasion, as we know, works through emotions, logic and facts. Emotions grab attention so that the buyer "turns on" his brain. Then logic penetrates his brains and draws a dashed logical chain. Facts are the solid links that put the pieces of this chain together. At the end of this chain, the confidence that the promise is not empty appears. This is the way the solid promise that one can trust should work.

 

Where in the seller’s promise there are the emotions, logic and facts hidden? Or, where should they hide in order to work properly? Let's look at the processing of a promise, as well as of any information, from the standpoint of the buyer's brain.

 

Information in the human brain is processed in a certain sequence. Daniel Kahneman in his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" describes the process of information processing when one needs to decide (and this is what happens in the buyer's brain when he is deciding whether to buy or not):

 

The framing study yielded three main findings:

 

- A region that is commonly associated with emotional arousal (the amygdala) was most likely to be active when subjects' choices conformed to the frame. This is just as we would expect if the emotionally loaded words KEEP and LOSE produce an immediate tendency to approach the sure thing (when it is framed as a gain) or avoid it (when it is framed as a loss). The amygdala is accessed very rapidly by emotional stimuli - and it is a likely suspect for involvement in System 1.

 

- The brain region known to be associated with conflict and self-control (the anterior cingulate) was more active when subjects did not do what comes naturally - when they chose the sure thing in spite of its being labeled LOSE. Resisting the inclination of System 1 apparently involves conflict.

- The most “rational” subjects - those who were the least susceptible to framing effects - showed  enhanced activity in a frontal area of the brain that is implicated in combining emotion and reasoning to guide decisions. Remarkably, the "rational" individuals were not those who showed the strongest neural evidence of conflict. It appears that these elite participants were (often, not always) reality-bound with little conflict.

 

First, the information enters the amygdala. Over there it is tested for emotional coloring, first of all for fear: is the decision that needs to be taken dangerous, or does it involve some kind of gain? Next is a check on the "naturalness" of the decision goes in the anterior cingulate: could this decision cause any conflict? And only then the frontal area of the brain turns on: does the decision correspond to logic and facts?

 

The seller’s promise, in fact, calls for two different decisions. First, do I need this product, should I be interested in it? And if the brain makes a positive decision, then it should make the second one: do the proposed terms suit me? It seems that the buyer goes through the decision cycle twice. We accept this assumption.

 

An emotional check of the first decision answers two questions: “What is in it for me?” and “What could I gain from that?”. The answers to these questions should be received at the very beginning, in the first words of the seller. What should it contain? Firstly, a threat: what bad things could happen to the buyer without this product. Secondly, the benefit: what the buyer who owns this product could gain.

 

The buyer is looking at the "Polar Expert" sleeping bag. This bag has thicker insulation than others. Well, so what?

 

A smart seller will start like this, “You want neither catch a cold nor get not enough sleep in a cold night. After all, then you spoil the otherwise good camping!” The first reaction: danger! Cold nights are not uncommon. If I catch a cold and not get enough sleep, it would be better not to go anywhere. A spoiled camping is an obvious and not the most pleasant consequence. The signal is received. It is in favor of the purchase.

 

Seller could also start like this, “Even in a very cold night, you could have a good sleep, be awake in the morning, and get a lot of joy from all your camping activities!” First reaction: danger! Cold nights are not uncommon. And then, the positive emotions come! Joy is the very thing for which we go camping, vivacity is what is needed so that everything conceived turns out well, but to be awake, you need to have a good night's sleep. Even if it is a very cold night. Again, a signal is received, and it is in favor of the purchase.

 

The preliminary decision follows: do I want to buy it or not? If after the first promise the buyer still doesn’t feel like buying, a conflict arises: what else do I need to make a natural decision to buy? The buyer is still in doubt. He compares the Polar Expert to other sleeping bags. He still does not understand why other bags are worse, although they are less expensive and more compact.

 

The seller now needs to resolve this conflict, and he continues, “This bag has one-inch insulation, while the others have no more than 2/3". In this bag you can keep the heat of your body longer, almost all night, even in cold weather.”

 

Yeah, now I see.

 

Interest in the purchase of Polar Expert has appeared. The conflict is resolved. Now the logic turns on.

 

What is the logic of decision making? In comparing the benefits and costs, losses. The benefits are clear, but so far there is nothing to compare them with. Therefore, a protective mechanism of skepticism is triggered. Some distrust of the seller’s promises. As one great man said, “Liar makes the best promises” (Saying belongs to Pierce Brown, an American science fiction author).

 

Therefore, logic and facts should be followed by costs and losses. Then the buyer will have something to compare.

 

Now the seller should honestly say, “Of course, Polar Expert is one and a half times more expensive, takes up more space both in the pantry and in the car. And there is more weight in it than in other bags. But what is more important to you, to be alert, cheerful and healthy while camping or to have a cheap, compact and lightweight sleeping bag with thin insulation?”

 

Now everything seems to fall into place. The balance of benefits and costs has been established, the first decision has been made: I want to buy Polar Expert!

 

The first decision cycle has been completed. It's time to move on to the second one.

How to Talk Solid | Sales Philosophy. Solid vs. Empty | Buyer's Concerns

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Len Kaplan

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