Why Do We Sell The OPPOSITE of Value?

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Marketing and sales are a “dirty” game.

We’re repulsed by the tactics of marketers and salespeople.

When a “sales assistant” trills, “Can I help you?”, we shrink a little, and respond with an automatic and outwardly friendly response. (Mine is, “No thanks, but I’ll let you know when you can.”)

When an ad pops up on our screen – we rush to close it.

And when we’re offered a sales consultation, our automatic reaction is to say “No!”

The reason why this happens is because MOST of the tactics marketers and salespeople use are repulsive.

Let me explain…

Drawing attention to the right and positive elements of your offer can help increase sales – particularly when those parts of your offering match your customer’s needs. But – on the other – drawing attention to the wrong elements will damage sales.

In the same way that our emotions are designed to push us towards taking action that will help to fulfil our survival needs, they will also steer us away from potential threats that could damage us.

To simplify Maslow’s needs – when it comes to the factors that typically prevent someone from buying, we have Physical Costs, Security/Survival Costs, Mental/Emotional Costs, and Esteem Costs.

Physical Costs:

  • Physical pain or discomfort caused;
  • Exhaustive physical load from using a product;
  • The ongoing physical cost of maintenance and care;

Security/Survival Costs:

  • Poor future value of an asset at the time of resale;
  • Poor investment returns;
  • Consequential damage to an asset (e.g. carpet damage from using a cleaning product);
  • Results less-than-advertised, or representing poor value for money;
  • The risk of loss, or insecurity;
  • A high financial cost of purchasing;

Mental/Emotional Costs:

  • The effort required to agree to purchase (long application forms, high barriers to entry, approval processes, etc);
  • The effort required to engage in a purchasing conversation (avoiding manipulation, long or high-pressure sales tactics, or even the involvement of salespeople in general);
  • Regret caused by making the incorrect decision;
  • Buyers remorse from making a reasonable decision, but questioning it later;
  • The risk of finding a competitive product that represents a better deal later on;
  • The cost of incongruence (the cost of a decision that is against your core values, or doesn’t reflect your core identity);
  • The ongoing mental load of managing maintenance and care;

Esteem Costs

  • The risk of criticism from others (family, colleagues, employers, loved ones) because of a decision we have made;
  • Factors that may limit our career advancement, growth, or recognition in a professional context;
  • Factors that may limit potential rewards in other areas of life;

Many of these may seem like trivial objections. Especially if your product or service is able to deliver a very high standard of outcome for potential customers.

And often they won’t be objections that your customers are even conscious of.

But it’s easy to underestimate the value that customers subconsciously place on these considerations – and how they prevent a sale from making it to a point where logical (rather than subconscious or emotional) considerations begin to take part in the sales process.

After all, considering the product on logical terms is the last step in the purchase decision-making process – not the first!

Our emotional instincts have been fine-tuned over billions of years… Our logical, rational decision-making skills have been fine-tuned over hundreds-of-thousands of years – with the greatest leaps happening relatively recently in our existence.

So, if the messaging on your website inadvertently draws attention to the threats or costs of making a purchasing decision, then you’re highly likely to lose sales.

This type of messaging has a repulsive effect – repelling potential customers from buying.

So as a leader and decision-maker around sales and marketing, the onus is on you to minimise this repulsive effect.


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