Logic + Emotion = Yes

You have two options:
1.       Receive a sure $800 that I am offering you
2.       Take a chance with an 85% chance for you to win $1,000
Which do you choose?
If you are like most, you selected 1, the sure bet, but mathematically, choice 2 and taking a chance is actually worth more. So why do most select the sure bet? Emotionally the chance for loss is weighed higher than logic would dictate, and most have a cognitive bias to avoid the risk and choose the sure bet.

Decisions are a combination of Logic + Emotion. Understanding how the mind uses both, and the inherent biases involved, can help you create better marketing content and sales presentations, drive better engagements and win more favorable decisions, faster.

There is an exciting set of new research to help you understand the way purchasing decisions are made, and new ways you can leverage this science to create better content and tools to drive faster, more favorable purchase decisions.
The research uses fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) machines and brain sensor devices (such as EEG and MEG) to monitor the human brain when it makes decisions, peering “inside” to see how the brain responds when exposed to marketing content and sales presentations for example.
The concepts that are being studied have been around for some time, but the imaging research is relatively new and is substantially changing the thinking around how we make decisions: from what was thought to be a more Logical process, driven by what most call in evolutionary terms the "new" brain (the cerebral cortex), to a decision making process that is perhaps more subconscious and laced with more emotion than most would think, driven by the “reptilian” brain, the cerebellum, and the mid-brain.

The duality of decision making is revealed in books such as “How We Decide” by Lehrer, and a series of important books such as “Buyology” and “Brandwashed“ by neuromarketing expert Martin Lindstrom. Whether you know it or not, you are exposed to the results of this research every day, as neuromarketing techniques have been shaping the world of consumer products for at least the past 20 years, and refining them as new learnings emerge. Coke, Kellog’s, General Motors and others have been leveraging these techniques in incredibly clever ways to get you to make consumer purchase decisions that go their way.
Now, these same techniques are being leveraged by B2B firms to great effect, combining emotional and logical content to achieve more favorable decisions and accelerated decision cycles.

Sweet Emotion
The more emotional-oriented part of the brain is one we share with all other animals, and is primarily tasked with your survival – fight or flight.

One of the ways I like to think about this part of the brain is that it serves as a “gateway”: Stimulate the emotional brain and you have an engaged audience that will absorb and most importantly, remember you long after you are gone. Fail to stimulate the old brain, via a death-by-PowerPoint sales pitches for example, and you are immediately tuned-out and lost from the buyer’s mind soon after you leave the room.
So how do you stimulate the emotional brain?  Let’s take a quick look at several of the best ways several of the experts recommend you engage:
1)     The emotional brain is focused on survival, and as such, it continually scans the environment looking for risks. Illuminate the risks and the old brain springs to attention. In fact, studies show that on average, we are 2x more likely to avoid risk than pursue gains (remember the earlier example of a sure bet). Yet, most times we create marketing content that messages to the gains, the value of what we provide. To win over the old brain, clearly quantify the pains and risks, such as the “cost of doing nothing” and not just the savings and benefits to make a more emotionally charged impression. 

2)     The emotional brain tends to embrace “do nothing” versus change – a condition called “status quo bias”. When making a decision, our mind naturally weighs the costs and risks of change significantly and often illogically more than perceived benefits. In order to break the bias, you need to show how the costs of change are decisively outweighed by 2 times greater potential gains. 

3)     The emotional brain is stimulated not by text, but by visuals (as well as the other senses – hearing, smell, touch, etc..). The more pictures, especially simple hand drawn imagery, the better.

4)     The emotional brain is self centered, caring most about its own survival. Buyers don't care about what you have to sell, or what it might mean for others, they need to clearly know what’s in it for them . One-size-fits all content just doesn't work any more, and buyers need more relevant, concise and personalized deliverables that speak directly to them - their industry, location, size, role in decision cycle, business objective and challenges. 

5)     The emotional brain is stimulated by contrast. This is best illustrated by a great story from the book Neuromarketing:  If you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water it’s brain quickly recognizes the difference in temperatures and the frog quickly jumps to safety. However, if you put a frog into a room temperature pot of water, place the pot on the stove and bring it up slowly to a boil, you have frog soup. Our "old" brains are no different, and we too need to see contrast in order to “get it”. Clear pictures and quantification of “Before vs. After” , for example showing conceptually the costs and risks of business as usual versus the improvements and benefits of the proposed solution work well.

6)     Finally, the human emotional brain relies on social relationships for survival. We are pre-wired to be attracted by similarity with other people who are "just like us", and to engage socially in groups (one of the reasons social networks are so popular).  Leveraging pictures or testimonial videos of similar buyers, enabling social sharing of content, and promoting social interaction and groups, all help stimulate the "old" brain emotions to help drive purchase decisions. 

The neuromarketing pundits reveal that emotional content and presentations will help you connect and engage buyers more effectively, and help make your messages and value proposition more memorable. Consumer products companies have been funding research and leveraging emotional decision making to great effect. It's time we in B2B embrace some of these techniques to create better sales and marketing engagement and effectiveness.

Solid Logic
With today’s tough economic climate, however, emotion is not enough. Buyers are more overloaded, skeptical and frugal than ever before. Frugalnomics is in full effect, clearly making it harder to connect, engage and sell. However, leveraging logic in your marketing content and sales presentations, you can Fight Frugalnomics and drive success:

1)     First, to break through the noise, you need to be provocative - presenting hard facts and logic that spur the “do nothing” buyer into action, and help prioritize your proposal over everything else the buyer has on their plate. 
2)     Second, to win the business, each and every purchase decision is scrutinized by more stakeholders than ever before. Many such as Finance and Procurement have little on their minds but avoiding spending and saving precious budget. If you don’t have a strong logical business case for purchase, you won’t get the deal approved.
As we discussed earlier, you do need to create an emotional connection to get through, but you need logic to cement and seal the deal. Using logical content to help the buyer make the most favorable and quickest decision, you should help the buyer:
1)     Quantify the current costs and risks, proving that the cost of doing nothing is extreme.
2)     Use diagnostics and comparative benchmarks to help buyers identify issues of which they might not have been aware, or help prioritize known opportunities via comparative urgency.
3)     Tally the benefits, assuring that they are 2x or more greater than the investments and risks (to overcome status-quo bias).
4)     Deliver the ROI justification financial decision makers need to rally approvals amongst a plethora of stakeholders.
5)     Differentiate the competitive advantages of proposed solutions, quantifying the incremental value and lower total cost of ownership (TCO) versus the competition.
Appealing to the “new” brain is about you presenting the evidence needed to reach the logical conclusion that the issue is worth addressing, it’s a top priority, and you represent the best choice.

Best Practice: Logic + Emotion = Yes
 For B2B decisions, you can’t get to “Yes” without a healthy combination of Emotion and Logic to help buyers make better, faster and more favorable decisions. You have to both stmulate the senses, so your messages get through and are remembered, while at the same time, making a logical case for your solution across all the stakeholders involved in the decision making process.

Our recommendation, and one we embody in our latest generation of customized value selling marketing tools, is to combine the best logical business case elements with the emotional attention-getters, leveraging a three step engagement process to:  Personalize , Challenge and Engage.

Personalize - First, Alinean tools personalize the content, leveraging the customer’s profile to completely personalize and customize the analysis, research and messaging. Typical personalization tunes these elements for the buyer’s industry, location, size, role in decision process, stage in decision making, current solutions and assets, current practices and business objectives and challenges.
Challenge - Leveraging this content, Alinean’s tools challenge the buyer to justify:
  • “Why Change?” via quantifying the Cost of Doing Nothing,
  • “Why Now?” via performance benchmarking, peer comparisons and the benefits and value in change
  • “Why You?” via quantifying the differentiating value and competitive cost advantages of your solution versus competitive offerings.
Engage - Lastly, the justification won’t engage the buyer if it’s an endless presentation of text and numbers. You need to stimulate the buyer’s emotions both on-line and in printed reports. Alinean tools do this by:
  • Leveraging more visuals and less text, especially including graphics to highlight the advantages of your solution, and embedding more links to videos and customer success stories
  • Social stories are included, to highlight user success stories and promote social sharing of the document – proven ways to drive more credibility.
Combining just the right mix of logic + emotion. Personalize, Challenge and Engage – an Alinean-recommended three step process to driving faster and more favorable customer decisions, and better sales and marketing tools and success.

Sources (and recommended reading list):

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom and Paco Underhill (Oct 21, 2008)
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer (Feb 9, 2009)
Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom and Paco Underhill (Feb 2, 2010)

Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy byMartin Lindstrom (Sep 20, 2011)


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