Buying Decisions:
Are They Logical or Emotional?

by Jacques Werth, Founder of High Probability Selling.  © 2003

"No one ever got fired for buying IBM," has been repeated, believed, and acted upon thousands of times.  That is a clear indication of how the emotions rule decision-making.  The emotions involved are security, recognition, and self-esteem.

Here's another real world example:

Back in the early 1980s, mounting components on the surface of printed circuit boards, rather than through the boards, was a "new" design, a manufacturing technology called Surface Mounting Technology (SMT).  The company I was with at the time was one of the leaders in providing automated SMT assembly equipment.

One of our salespeople told me that a major electronics manufacturer in his territory had just assembled a 6-person task force to implement SMT.  The task force was headed by their VP of Manufacturing Engineering.  The other five members were from product design engineering, manufacturing, purchasing, quality assurance, and mechanical engineering.  I told our salesperson to set up a one-hour appointment for us with just the VP.  We went to visit him a few days later.

When we arrived, we were unexpectedly shown into a conference room next to the VP's office where all of the members of the team were waiting for us.  On one wall there was a 5' X 8' white board which was being used as a decision matrix.  It had the names of our leading competitors on the left, with the model numbers of their equipment and their specifications.  Our company was listed on the left side at the bottom of the chart - we were the last one in - and there was room for our equipment and specifications to be listed.  Across the top of the chart, a physical or performance specification and a "Factor of Importance" rating number headed each column for that spec.  They asked us for the specifications of each model of machine we had for SMT.

I said that we understood we were to meet with the VP to discuss their plans and we weren't prepared to provide all of the machine specifications they required at this meeting.  I said that we wanted to meet with each of them separately and learn what their most important concerns were, and that we would follow up with all of our physical and performance specifications within a few days.  They agreed to meet with us separately, for about 40 minutes each.  During each meeting I spent the first twenty minutes doing a Trust and Respect Inquiry.  Fortunately, they all passed and I had developed a deep emotional Relationship of Mutual Trust and Respect with each of them.

During the next twenty minutes, I learned that all of them were most concerned that the equipment that they bought would be reliable, easily programmed, easily fixed or replaced, and would meet their accuracy and throughput requirements.  At each of those individual meetings we gave them a copy of our standard specifications and told them we would come back in a few days with the other specs they required, which were not included in our standard spec sheets.

When we came back a few days later, we were shown into the same conference room.  When we sat down, we noticed that our machines had the highest ratings on their decision matrix.  We also noticed that the Factors of Importance rating numbers for the physical and performance specifications had been changed to favor our machines.  Thus, they made a "logical" decision to buy our machines, because that would enable them to "make or save money."  However, we never expressed any benefit of our products in terms of money.

What really happened was they felt that they could rely on us to supply them with equipment that would do the job they needed done.  It didn't have to be the best.  It just had to be dependable and not jeopardize their jobs or their reputations.  Again, the emotions involved were security, recognition and self-esteem.