Skip to content

Zen and the art of understanding people

There’s always been a big debate in sales as to whether people buy on emotions alone or on logic, too.

The accepted piece of wisdom is that people buy pushed by their emotions, and then justify their decision with logic. It’s a great mental model and I’d say it applies to 80% of cases.

But what about the minority?

Sometimes, as with anything, there are exceptions.

I’m talking about the niche cases, often found in B2B where your buyer is either the CEO, CMO or perhaps an employee, a developer maybe.

Where’s the emotion when you have to decide if you (or your company) want to invest in a new cloud infrastructure?

There are numbers, costs, technical decisions, forecasts… but emotion?

Well, I’d argue emotion is still there. But it’s a different kind. It’s the kind that puts your job at risk if you make the wrong decision. Or that increases the likelihood of stressing you out of your mind, when that’s the least you need, if you’re the executive.

And the thing is, these kinds of emotions are not on the forefront of these people’s minds. They are subconscious.

In these cases you could say logic dominates. But there’s a better way of looking at this. A better frame.

In the book “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance”, the author talks about how his friend, sees any mechanic job or part in its literal sense rather than interpreting it.

His friend sees things “as what they are, rather than as what they mean”.

they don’t see what happens if they do one thing or the other, they don’t have the context.

We could say the same for your developer or CEO. In some cases your buyer will tend to see things as what they are (a piece of hardware, or tech), not as what they mean (their fear or desire tied to it).

And you should respect that in your copy and design. You should make it easy for them to get to the point. That’s when features reign over benefits. Or at least when features should be more prominent and easily skimmable, for example.

Does your audience see things as what they are or as what they mean?

If you need help figuring it out, get in touch.

brain dump?

Every day (yes!) I write about what I’m learning at my copywriting/UX desk ,with fun, insightful and quirky stories.

Let’s nerd about decision making, persuasion, habits, and conversion optimization.