Emotion vs. Logic: Which One Sells Better?
Quickly write down the word “abortion”
Now, how does that word make you feel?
Try it with another highly charged word like “rich” or “addiction” or any other phrase that gets your guts doing flips.
Do it NOW. I will wait.
Now that I have you engaged emotionally let’s get to the point of this exercise.
Which Works Better, Stats or Stories?
In the book “Made to Stick”, authors, Chip and Dan Heath write about a powerful study conducted by Carnegie-Mellon. According to the authors, Carnegie-Mellon invited participants in to take a survey. The topic wasn’t important — something about tech products — but what mattered was the small payout. Each participant got paid with five $1 bills.
Participants also got an unexpected letter and an empty envelope. The letter asked for donations for an international charity called “Save the Children.” But different groups got different letters.
One letter dripped with grim statistics. In one African country, it said, 3.2 million stand on the brink of starvation. In another, 2.4 million have no easy access to clean water. In a third, almost 4 million need emergency shelter. Each problem was gigantic and serious.
The second letter had only a story. “Rokia,” it said, “is a 7-year-old girl from Mali, Africa. She’s desperately poor and faces a threat of severe hunger or even starvation. Her life will be changed for the better as a result of your financial gift. With your support, and the support of other caring sponsors, Save the Children will work with Rokia’s family and other members of the community to help feed her, provide her with education, as well as basic medical care and hygiene education.”
Which worked better?
If you said that the Rokia letter cleaned up, you’d be right.
On average, Rokia’s letter took in $2.38 in donations from the test group. The stat-soaked letter took in only an average of $1.14. But that’s not the big surprise, is it? No, of course not. (What kind of storyteller do you think I am, after all?)
See, the study didn’t stop there …
How Less Really Can Mean More….A Lot More
The researchers then called in a third group and paid them for taking the survey. This time, instead of giving the participants only one letter with their cash — everybody got both the story AND the stats together.
Hey, what could be better than logic and emotion at the same time. Engage both the head and heart what could be better. Heart AND head. A real one-two punch. All in one sweep?
As it turns out, this approach was a bust.
Not only did combining both approaches fail to motivate giving … it did just the opposite. Almost a dollar less. Just $1.43.
But even more amazing was the last part of the experiment. This time, just to make sure of their conclusion, the researchers invited in a fourth group.
This time everybody would only get the stronger Rokia letter. But beforehand, they would complete an exercise. Half the group would finish some simple math problems. The other half would answer a word challenge like the one I gave you at the start of this issue: Give word, write down feelings.
Incredibly, the group that got “primed” with the emotional exercise gave an almost equal $2.34 … but the analytically “primed” group AGAIN gave less, for an average of just $1.26.
Conclusion: Analytical thinking can actually inhibit action. Feelings not thought inspire action. Duh.
This study confirms the sales training approach I have been teaching for the last two decades. In my proprietary New School Sales Training, I teach a concept called “Peeling the Onion”. The concept involves stripping away layer after layer of the prospect’s intellectual BS to get to the core issue of how does this problem or situation effect you personally and what is the impact to you personally if this situation is not rectified.
Example: Last week, I asked a small business owner, who is suffering from slow sales and little or no pipeline, “what happens if you don’t fix this marketing problem and figure out how to get more leads for your sales team. His response, “I will probably lose $200,000 out of my pocket this year”. To which I replied, “How does that make you feel”? You could have pushed him over with a feather. When he regained his composure he said, “Can you help me with this”?
What about you? Did your sales training teach you to show up and vomit product information, statistics, and data? Do you overwhelm your prospects with multi colored charts, graphs and power points that prove your point or do you probe and engage prospects in a deep psychological way that touches a nerve that creates a primal, visceral reaction?
The big money is by talking to the heart not the head.
I learned this a long, long time ago, and so did anyone else who has been selling successfully for 20 years or more. It didn’t take a Carnegie-Mellon study to tell us what we already knew. Nice of them to catch up and confirm what we intuitively learned decades ago.
As always your comments are encouraged and welcomed. I take great pleasure from reading them. So please leave a comment below and forward the post to your friends.