📄 The Deep Psychological Truth About Sales that Hardly Anyone Talks About
Traditional marketing and sales has it that people don't buy features - they buy outcomes, instead.
It’s not that they want an all-natural Amazonian latex mattress - what they really want, is to have the best night’s sleep they can get. People don't go out to buy an 8mm drill-bit: they want to buy an 8mm hole in the wall.
But to think - and sell - on that level is limited.
Sure yes: features tell, and benefits sell.
But there's a lot more going on in a buyer’s mind, and it goes up all the way to the level of identity.
Here’s how it works:
People buy the features of a product or service, because it makes sense.
Mind says ‘yes, this sounds good. I like it’.
Then, the actual decision to buy is an emotional switch: it’s when trust and desire overlap so much, that the *rational* ‘yes’ is supported by an *emotional* ‘yes’.rational ‘yes’ is supported by an emotional ‘yes’.
That’s when you’ve successfully sold someone on the benefits.
But what someone is really buying - and it's something hardly anyone talks about - is neatly captured in a Steve Jobs quote:
People buy a new version of themselves.
When someone decides to buy (and this gets truer the bigger the price tag), what they’re ultimately acquiring, is a way to signal to themselves and to others, that they’re the kind of person who makes this type of decision and purchase. In the words of Seth Godin: People like us do things like this.
Someone spending $2000 on a mattress says to themselves, and to anyone they talk to about that purchase: “I’m worth that kind of quality. My sleep quality is worth it”.
Someone buying an electric vehicle says to themselves and to others “I’m a modern, switched-on buyer, who cares about the environment and wants to show it”.
When someone buys a $10,000 website, their inner story is “I care madly about my business, to the point of investing big bucks in its growth”.
Someone who hires a sales coach tells themselves: “My stuff is so good, and so needed, that I owe it to myself and to my customers to become highly skilled at enrolling buyers and get my work in the hands of more people”.
In all these examples, there is a strong psychological motivator at play, where the buyer changes the story they tell themselves, about who they are in the world. That motivation is what you as the seller need to identify and appeal to.
So whatever it is you do, and sell, and whenever you’re dealing with a potential buyer, ask yourself:
“What version of themselves do they seek to acquire?"
Instead of selling people on the product or service you deliver, or even the benefits, sell them the thing they really want:
Serve your buyer in selling them the next version of themselves.
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