Episode #024: Creating Cognitive Ease with Ryan Hamilton
In This Episode of The Buyer’s Mind with Jeff Shore:
Ryan Hamilton and Jeff discuss the four approaches to making a decision. Knowing how your customer thinks will allow you, as a sales professional, to modify your sales approach to meet your customer’s needs.
Topics we’re going to cover on today’s podcast:
[2:17] Quote of the Day
[4:16] Sales Tip of the Day
[8:46] Economic theories vs Practical Sales
[10:50] The Four Customer Minds
[18:37] Focusing on the Local Comparison Mind
[22:52] How does compromise fit into all of this?
[25:20] The battle between logic and emotion
[29:39] Easy equals right – always true?
[36:24] Motivational Summary
More about our guest Ryan Hamilton:
I took a rather circuitous route to becoming a marketing professor. In college I studied physics, which I loved, but which I ultimately determined was unlikely to hold my interest for the next 40 years. Before returning to graduate school, I worked several jobs that had very little to do with marketing (computer programming, technical writing, proton induced x-ray emission-based trace element analysis using a Van de Graaff proton accelerator>—you know, as people do…). I also worked some jobs that were at least somewhat related to marketing (web design and consulting, working for a political campaign).
After a lot of research and introspection, I ultimately decided that the topics that really interested me the most were those related to how people make choices. This realization led me to Northwestern to study marketing. Which led me here. It doesn’t make for a very succinct backstory, I know, but there it is.
I am the proud father of five young children, which means that I spend much of my time exhausted and slightly rumpled. It also means I have some cover for my unabashed enthusiasm for Legos and Spongebob Squarepants.
Links from today’s podcast:
Jeff: You know, we all want to understand what is happening in the buyer’s mind, right? But what if I told you that your buyer has four different minds and they all need to be understood? It’s all about creating cognitive ease for your customer, and that’s what we’re gonna talk about on today’s episode of “The Buyer’s Mind.”
Man: Welcome to “The Buyer’s Mind,” where we take a closer look deep inside your customer’s decision-making mechanism, to reverse engineer the perfect sales presentation. Now, please welcome your host, Jeff Shore.
Jeff: Welcome, everyone, to “The Buyers Mind,” where we investigate exactly what’s going on in the brains of our prospects who are considering a purchase decision. And today, we’re gonna look at some of the complexities that our customers face and how we relieve some of that cognitive strain. This podcast is all about taking a stroll through the buyer’s brain. It’s about knowing the customer so well that that sale begins to roll out right in front of you. I’m your host, Jeff Shore. If you want information on the work we do at Shore Consulting, you can go to jeffshore.com. While you’re there, check out our lineup of books, events, online products, everything you need to boost your sales career.
As always, welcome to our show, producer Paul Murphy. Paul, how you doing?
Paul: Doing great today.
Jeff: Hey, we’re gonna talk about cognitive ease today. And you know that we at Shore Consulting are constantly banging away on that same drum with that same mantra, that “Easy equals right.” So, Murph, do you have an example of that philosophy in the real world, for you as a consumer?
Paul: Well, I think everybody uses Amazon, right? So, it’s really easy to search for what it is you want, and then when you go to purchase it, you just click on the “Buy” and work your way through. I haven’t tried the “One-Click buy” yet, but I’ve used my credit card and done it that way.
Jeff: And they do make it easy, right? They make it easy to understand, they make it easy to review. It’s all right there. No wonder that they’re gobbling up more and more market share all the time. But that’s really what we’re about here on “The Buyer’s Mind,” is to try to figure out how do we make it easy for our customers to buy. But in order to do that, we’ve gotta bring in that cognitive ease. We’ve gotta make it easier on our customer’s brain. And that leads us to our quote of the day from Deepak Chopra, “Everyone uses the brain at every moment, but we use it unconsciously. We let it run in the background without realizing the power we have to reshape the brain. When you begin to exercise that power, the everyday brain, which we call the baseline brain, starts to move in the direction of the super brain.” So what he’s talking about here is something we’ve talked about before on “The Buyer’s Mind,” the idea of this dual process theory. System one and system two. System one of the brain working away in the background. System two, what we think of when we think of thinking. It’s the alert, aware thinking.
But when we think about cognitive ease, there’s really a combination here of brain anatomy, that is the way that the brain works, and emotional intelligence. Another thing that we talk about quite a bit on “The Buyer’s Mind.” The brain is so complex…and we all know that. But when we identify these healthy mental shortcuts for ourselves and for our customers, we create cognitive ease. We lessen cognitive strain. And that’s what we’re gonna get into with our guest today. All right. Hey, listen, make sure you stay tuned. We love to give stuff away and we’re gonna give something away at the end of this very podcast.
We wanna let you know that the podcast is brought to you by our good friends at HomeStreet Bank. That is our show sponsor. That’s also my lender of choice. I used HomeStreet in my last home purchase. I’ll use them in my next home purchase. They’re professional, dependable, great service, fantastic rates. If you’re a real estate professional, you’re looking for somebody to take care of your clients, you’re not gonna find anybody better than HomeStreet Bank. So whether it’s banking, home loans, credit lines, you name it, go to homestreetbank.com to learn more. That’s homestreetbank.com.
Now, coming up in just a few minutes, an interview with Dr. Ryan Hamilton, a professor from Emory University. And we’re gonna talk about the four buying brains or the buying minds, and how we manage those brains. Before we do that, we’ll get to our tip of the day, and that is to describe things in three’s. Let me explain what I mean here. It’s a technique called “Blocking.” It’s about getting your customer to reserve small compartments in their brain and offering them overview pieces of information a little at a time. It’ll work best by an example. If I say to a customer, “Let me just explain the purchase process here. There are really just three things that you need to take in.”
Now, before I go any further, before I even think about what those three things are, what did I just do? I created a cognitive ease, because my customers’ response is to say, “That’s all I need to do, is free up three compartments in my brain. Three. I can handle that.” I’ve created an environment where they are more likely to listen and to listen attentively. Now all I need to do is just take the purchase process and divide it into three major categories. This is a technique called blocking. And for some reason, people understand easier in blocks of three.
So find something that stresses the customer out: the purchase process, the warranty, financing, feature selections, whatever it is. Present that in a block. You know, there’s really just three things you need to know. And when I start to sentence, when I start the description that way, “You know, there are just three things you need to know,” what am I doing? I’m letting the customer know, “This is easy.” And the mental shortcut that comes into play here, “Easy equals right. The easier something feels to me, the righter it seems to me.”
Hey, before we get to our interview, I want to tell you about an opportunity coming in December for real estate leaders and managers. It’s the Sales Leadership Academy. This two-day event will be held in Dallas on December 6th and 7th. But that’s just where it begins. We then work with you through an online course over the next 12 weeks to help you transform yourself and your sales team. We launched the Sales Leadership Academy, the first version, just a couple months ago. It was so successful we’re gonna do it again. So if you’re interested in the Sales Leadership Academy, go to jeffshore.com/events to learn more.
All right, let’s get to our interview. Ryan Hamilton is a consumer psychologist whose research investigates shopper decision making. Obviously, a good fit for our Buyer’s Mind podcast. He’s the author of, “The Intuitive Customer,” a book on managing customer experiences. He’s been published in scores of academic journals. He’s been cited on “NYT,” “WSJ,” “HBR,” and a whole lot of other media sources with impressive acronyms. Moreover, Ryan Hamilton is a genuinely good guy. We’ve enjoyed speaking. Joining us from Emory University in Atlanta, Professor Ryan Hamilton. Ryan, good to have you with us.
Ryan: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here. I appreciate you having me on.
Jeff: Give us the back story. How did you first get involved in the interest and study of consumer behavior?
Ryan: It is a long and illogical path that I took. I studied physics in college, which is about as far from consumer psychology as one can get on a map. And I went and worked in business. And I was honestly kind of down on psychology, and marketing, and sales. I thought they were all kind of fluffy subjects. And it wasn’t until I was out there and actually working in the real world that I realized that no, that was in fact where the action was, that that was what really was interesting to me, is just, you know, what do people find persuasive? How do people make decisions? And so when I went back to graduate school, that’s what I opted to study.
Jeff: And it’s interesting, you picked a good subject just from the sense that it is a constantly evolving field of study. And we think about what we have learned, what science has learned, what academics have learned in the last 20 years has probably trumped anything that we learned for thousands of years up to that point.
Ryan: Yeah, I agree completely. And part of what drew me to the topic is the fact that it is ever-evolving. I mean, you know, as you say, it feels like the best time to study these topics ever, where we’re kind of in the golden age of understanding decision making, and behavioral economics becoming popular. And not just in the academic communities but people out there in the real world are starting to get really excited by these topics and wanting to know what they can do with them.
Jeff: Yeah, I think that that’s why I found our conversation so interesting, Ryan, because there’s the idea of…the whole field of behavioral economics has really taken root in the academic world but it hasn’t really translated well yet into the business world, into the commercial application. And it seems that every day there’s a new theory for how the brain works, how it processes information, and ultimately, how it makes a decision. And that’s kind of a problem because, you know, too many theories that sometimes conflict with one another. It all gets kind of jumbled up and we don’t even know what to believe. I know this is something that’s intriguing to you.
Ryan: Yeah, it is. It’s been fun to be where I am. So, I’m an academic. I spend my days developing and testing theories. But I’m also a marketing professor. So I teach MBA students and interact with a lot of business executives. And it’s only been in the last several years that I’ve kind of poked my hole more and more out of the ivory tower and started to sense some of the frustration coming from people who actually wanna try to benefit from this knowledge.
On the academic side, we’re happy to just spin out new theories all the time. That’s how we’re incentivized. That’s how we keep our jobs. But on the practitioner side, if you’re trying to use this stuff, then all of the new theories that are coming out are not helping you. They’re just frustrating. And to the point that you just made, and some of them conflict with each other. So you have theory A that says that in this situation you should raise price, and theory B, in this situation you should lower price. And it’s not like one of them is wrong. They will often both be right. It becomes a matter of when are they right? Under what circumstances are they right?
So, more recently I’ve started to spend some time trying to bridge that gap a little bit, trying to help people understand not just what these theories are but also when would they be most useful for them.
Jeff: You know, it’s one of the reasons why I so appreciate people like you who are standing in that gap and trying to figure out, “How do we take what we know, valuable information that it is, and make it approachable for people who do not read white papers and journals, and scientific research?” And so when I think, for example, of, you know, Dr. Robert Cialdini and his book on influence theory, and if I look at it and go, “Okay, if you are likeable, you’re more likely to be in a position of influence,” that’s something I can get my head around. It’s easy, it’s simple, it’s straightforward. But I think we need to see a whole lot more of that. And that’s why I wanna talk to you about this paper that you wrote, “The 4 Minds of the Customer: A Framework for Understanding and Applying the Science of Decision Making.” I’ve read it twice. It’s highly underlined. It’s absolutely amazing. Give us the overview first, just the executive summary of “The 4 Minds of the Customer.”
Ryan: Sure. So, the approach that we took with “The 4 Minds Framework” is we started by looking at all this decision-making theory, good theory, validated theory, stuff that’s been tested over and over again over the decades, and we tried to say, “All right, is there a way that we can group these theories together in such a way that we can say, ‘Okay, if you find yourself in this setting, you should use theory group A, because that will help you’? Or if you’re in this setting over here, use theory group B.” So we’ve defined these four different groups of theories, what we call “The Four Minds.” And the idea is that these are four ways, common ways that all of us make decisions. And so if you can figure out what are the factors that are likely to influence my customer’s decision, you can be more likely to be drawing your insights from the right theory for you.
So the four minds that we identified are what we call “The Ideal Point Mind,” and that, really quickly, is situations where people know exactly what they want and so they’re just gonna make comparisons until they find something that’s close to it. “The Market Comparison Mind” is where people tend to focus on just a couple of key attributes, and trying to determine whether that attribute is good or not is based largely on what’s available in the marketplace. “Local Comparison Mind,” this is where people tend to focus on what’s in front of them and are trying to pick the best out of what’s available. And then “The Image Mind,” and that is a mindset where people are relying less on kind of the numbers and the attributes and more on their general impressions.
And with those four minds or approaches, if you can figure out which type of decision making your customer is likely to engage in, then it points you towards a direct approach. So can I give an example?
Jeff: Of course.
Ryan: Let’s assume that you want to know how your customer is going to evaluate your price, right? You’re gonna go and sell to this customer and you’re gonna go at them with this particular price, and you wanna know how are they going to evaluate that price. Well, you could be selling to a customer who has been buying in this industry, in this area for a very long time. They’re an expert customer, they know exactly what they want, they’re very experienced. The way they’re gonna evaluate your bid is by comparing your price and all the other characteristics of your offering, and comparing it to that ideal point. And so they may only need to evaluate a couple of bids because if they find one that’s very close to exactly what they knew they wanted, they can stop looking. They’ll get right to it. So, for this type of customer, it becomes very important for you to know what is that ideal point, what is it that they’re looking for if you wanna sell to them.
If we look at the other extreme, “The Image Mind,” this would be people who primarily are not experts in the field and may have a hard time evaluating options or who just don’t care that much because it’s not important for them. And so they might come to you, and when they’re evaluating your price, they might look to your brand. “Well, is your brand pretty reasonable in terms of prices? Well then, I’m just gonna assume that this price is reasonable.” And they’re gonna make their decision that way. For selling to that type of customer, coming at them with a lot of facts, and numbers, and assessments, that’s not gonna convince them. They were convinced or not convinced before you even started talking, based on your reputation, based on your brand.
So, figuring out ahead of time which of these two types of customers you’re dealing with is gonna save you a lot of time and give you a lot of insights in the sales process.
Jeff: There is something of a… Look, we could unpack all of this and be here all day. We simply don’t have the time. So I’m gonna wanna focus in on one. I wanna dive into “The Local Comparison Mind.” Before we do that, as we think about the four different minds, there is something of scale that we could look at here, at least the way that I’m seeing it, that suggests we’re moving from “The Ideal Point Mind,” which is much more of a logical, tactical, sort of, you know, left-brain activity. All the way over to “The Image Mind,” passing through “Market Comparison” and “Local Comparison,” and we’re kind of moving from more of an analytical approach to more of an emotional approach. Is that a fair way to categorize the four minds?
Ryan: Yeah, that is a fair way of characterizing it. We tried to distinguish these four mindsets or approaches in a number of different ways. And one of the ways that we did it in the paper is just what you suggested. We pointed out that these differ in terms of kind of effort and accuracy, these different ways of making decisions. So, on average, the more effort you put into a decision, the more important it is to you. The more you care about it, the more likely you’re going to be towards this high-effort ideal point end of the scale. And then as it becomes less effortful as you’re willing to maybe tolerate a little bit more risk or error in your decision, then you’re gonna move down that scale towards “The Image Mind,” which tends to be the easiest way of making a decision. You know, “How do I feel about this? I feel good. All right, let’s go for it.”
Jeff: Yeah, right. Maybe a good example of that would be looking at just that impulse item. It’s not particularly straining on your budget. There are not a lot of reasons to say, “No.” You feel good about it. You don’t really think about it, you just kind of buy it.
Ryan: That’s a great example.
Jeff: But if you’re thinking about installing, you know, solar in your house and it’s gonna cost you, you know, 25 grand and you don’t really know how it works and you’re not sure how long it’s gonna take to get it paid off. And, you know, yeah, you want to do your part for the environment but you’re not, like, all in on that concept. Now you’re really having to grind in order to make that decision.
Ryan: Yeah, and it’ll be interesting the way that you approach that. So, if you decide, “I wanna buy solar panels,” but you’re not really sure what else to do, and you go to a solar panel retailer…which I’m going to just assume exists for the purpose of this example.
Jeff: They do. Yeah, you’re right. You’re right, yeah.
Ryan: Solar Panel World. And you just look at what they’ve got available and you’re like, “All right, this one looks better than those,” then that would be a local comparison way of doing this. If you really educate yourself and decide, “This is exactly what I want. This is what I want it to look like. This is what I want it to be able to do in terms of output and in terms of cost,” then you may have formed an ideal point and used that to make your decision.
Jeff: I wanna look very closely…again, because we simply don’t have the time to look at all these. Let’s focus in on the Local Comparison Mind. So, yeah, the local comparison mind, a part of us that is looking at, basically, what is right in front of me. And you talk about context effects that are critical to understanding how the local comparison mind works. So give us an example of a local comparison mind in action.
Ryan: Sure. Yeah, so, just to reiterate. Local comparison is when you are limited to the set of options ahead of you. You can think of maybe the way you make a decision with regards to a dessert at the end of a meal, right? You tend to focus on that dessert menu. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got an ideal dessert out there somewhere in your brain, you’re picking one of these six desserts. That’s what you’re gonna go with. And so the key insight with regards to a local comparison mind is that people are really trying to choose the best from whatever set they’ve got. That means that they’re making a lot of comparisons within whatever’s in front of them. So it might be on the store shelf, it might be on the menu. And it might be with regard to several bids that were submitted and now they’re comparing. So local comparison is really about that comparison, “So how do I choose which one of these?”
So there’s been a lot of research on this. As I said, each of these minds draws on research going back 40 or 50 years. And within this context-effect stream of research, there have been a number of these effects that have been identified. One of them that would be relevant is extremeness aversion. So it turns out that people often like to choose kind of the middle or compromise option. Not all the time, but that’s a pretty common way of making a decision. I give you a set of three options. One is very high priced and very high quality. One is very low priced and low quality. Chances are you’re gonna go for the middle option. So, if you know that your customer is going to be making a local comparison decision, you know that they’re gonna tend to focus on the options that are in front of them.
For instance, if you know that they’ve submitted several requests for proposal and that yours is one of three or four that are coming in, it’s gonna be really important that you are optimal with regards to those other options. And in particular, it’s usually gonna make sense for you to try to be somewhere in the middle. Some kind of compromise option. Rather than too extreme on any attribute because that could become a deterrent for somebody who’s making a decision using a local comparison mind.
Jeff: It seems to me the best example I can think of right here is looking at the wine list at a restaurant.
Ryan: Yep, that’s a great example.
Jeff: Right, you see that. I’ve heard the stories, the studies that the best-selling wine is always the second least expensive on the menu, right? Nobody wants the extreme of the cheapest bottle but they figure if they move up one, well, there you go.
Ryan: Yeah, that’s exactly this extremeness aversion. And you would expect to find that among people who make a decision using a local comparison mind. Because there you’re focused on that wine list. You don’t wanna reveal yourself to be a real cheapskate in front of your date, so you’re not gonna choose the cheapest wine. At the same time, you know, you don’t care that much. But it’s important to note that not everybody makes a decision that way, right? So if you were a wine connoisseur, you were probably an ideal point customer. You know exactly what you want for a wine, and so you’re not gonna choose that least second, the cheapest bottle.
For people in that local comparison mind, then the set becomes very important. So if you’re the restaurateur, you know, you get to determine which bottle of wine is the second cheapest, right? So if you’re the sales person and you know you’re dealing with this local comparison mind, you get to construct that set in such a way that you can steer people towards one option or another. And in particular, realizing people will tend to avoid the extreme options.
Jeff: Let’s talk a little bit about compromise and where compromise comes into this. Because when we’re making a purchase decision…and it doesn’t matter what the product is. But when we’re making a purchase decision, typically, we’re not going to get everything that we want, especially for a major decision. I can’t imagine that everybody who is buying, you know, a Toyota Camry is driving their absolute, if money were no object, dream car, right? So there is always compromise that comes into play when we’re going to make a decision. How does the four mind concept, the four minds of the customer, how do we see compromise take its place? Because compromise is really an emotional thing. Does it still affect somebody who is, for example, an ideal point type of buyer?
Ryan: It’s a great question. I think you can characterize the last 50 years of decision-making research as trying to answer exactly that question. How do people deal with making tradeoffs? How do they deal with this forced compromise that they have to go through? And the way that I would say the four minds framework helps is that it characterizes four different approaches we have for making those tradeoffs. So, again, focusing back on the local comparison minds, since that’s what we wanted to talk more about. Often the way that we will negotiate those tradeoffs in a local comparison mind is by trying to simplify the decision in some way. So we’re not going to typically do an exhaustive analysis and comparison of every attribute for every option, if we’re in that local comparison mind. We’re going to try to look for reasons for choosing one option over the other.
So, for example, is this one that you compromise option? It is? That’s a pretty good reason for choosing it. Well, I should rephrase that. That’s a pretty common reason for choosing it. Not that it’s necessarily a good reason. You know, is this option better than one of the other options in the set? Like, clearly better. It is? Well, that’s a reason for choosing it. This kind of reason-based approach for negotiating tradeoffs is one that’s going to be more common for local comparison shoppers, customers, and it will be for other types of decision-making minds.
Jeff: We’re just about out of time. What’s rattling through my brain as I’m thinking through all of this very, very heady concept is the battle between logic and emotion. Can you just sort of talk philosophically about that and about what the customer experience is? Because as I’m going through “The 4 Minds of the Customer,” I’m seeing such a heavy presence of both and yet there’s so much of the time a huge conflict between logic and emotion. Just talk about the role of logic and emotion, how they play together, and ultimately, what we need to pay attention to.
Ryan: Sure. As you mentioned earlier on, I think that…well, both logic and emotion would be at play in all four decision-making minds. I think that that’s…everybody is both logical and emotional all the time. I think we can characterize maybe the degree to which people are more one or the other, or maybe more influenced by one type of decision-making than the other. And the scale, the spectrum that you talked about earlier, where we have ideal point which is going to tend to be a little bit more on the hard-nosed, rational, cold calculating tradeoff side. And image mind, which because it’s relying on these overall impressions, is going to tend to be more on kind of that qualitative or emotional intuitive side…
Jeff: Wait, let me jump in there for just a second. Nobody is gonna look at it with an ideal point perspective and say, “You know what? I’ve run the numbers, and this home that I’m looking at here, boy, I gotta tell you what, on a dollar per square foot basis, looking at the comps that are out there, looking at the very specific needs that I have,” that’s all ideal point thinking. But if I’m looking and saying, “I just, like, freaking hate this house. This is the ugliest house that I’ve ever seen in my life. But the numbers work, so I’m gonna buy it,” that seems to be an error right there. There’s an emotion at play.
Ryan: It’s an interesting philosophical question. So what would you consider to be an error? And I’m not trying to stop you here. This has been defined several different ways and in different research streams. When you say it would seem to be an error, what do you have in mind there?
Jeff: Well, if I’ve got somebody who’s evaluating something with an ideal point mind, they’re still not gonna buy it if they think it’s ugly. That’s the error. The error is in the conflict there. Or is it an ideal point mind and an image mind working together at the same time?
Ryan: I gotcha. Yeah, so we tried to create as much distance between these minds as we could for the purposes of helping people understand. I would say that the fact that a house is ugly, and that that drives your decision making is not necessarily inconsistent with an ideal point mind. So it could be that among the attributes that you consider when you think about your house, a certain look is an attribute that you could evaluate. You could come up with a way of rating houses on ugliness.
And so that could kind of factor into your consideration. If the ugliness of the house leads you to kind of believe, “Well, then, you know, it’s probably not very kept up very well on the inside, so I’ll probably have to, you know, spend a lot in repairs. Or maybe I don’t trust the neighborhood if the neighbors aren’t willing to step in and do something about a house this ugly,” you could draw lots of additional conclusions about the house based off of this one image-based attribute, kind of the ugliness. So that’s how I would characterize those two different approaches. I think that both of them can influence any of these minds. It’s just a matter of how something like the ugliness of the house would influence your decision making. Does that make sense?
Jeff: Absolutely, absolutely. You know, we know the concept in the form of, if you will, a psychological hack, for lack of a better term, that easy equals right. In the mind of a customer, “The easier something seems to me, the righter it feels to me.” And you have suggested that when we move over to the image side and to a lesser extent, the local comparison mind, that’s an easier way for us to process our decisions and for us to actually make the decision. Should sales professionals be attempting to move people down that scale, or is it just a matter of, “Look, it’s gonna be more effortful in the ideal point of mind or the market comparison mind. That’s just the way it is”? Should we be attempting to move people into that cognitive ease framework?
Ryan: Yeah, this is my favorite question to get because it focuses on the approach that I advocate to to marketing and sales, which is the recognition that people are different. I think that as basic a concept it is, when I talk to companies when they’re having problems, the most common reason is because they’re neglecting their segmentation and treating customers as if they’re all the same. So I would say if there may be opportunities to shift people in one direction or another, I would say that it’s more useful to try to figure out where your customers are.
You know, I love the fact that you’ve brought up the old psalm about making it easy and how easy is better. And it’s an old psalm for a reason because it’s usually true. I mean, it’s a good piece of advice. But there’s also that hesitancy of, “Is it always true?” And like anything, I would say that it’s not. I think that there are groups of customers for whom making it harder in terms of giving them more information, in terms of giving them more opportunities to think their way through problems, is gonna help. Even if, on average, it’s a bad thing. And so it becomes this question of, “Can I figure out when? Can I figure out how are my customers making decisions?” And recognizing that there are gonna be different groups that make decisions in different ways.
Jeff: We are just about out of time, so one last question here. Advice for a sales professional who finds the topic really interesting on an intellectual basis but is struggling right now to try and figure out, “How do I apply it?” Give us one piece of advice for what we can do, even if it’s just…or what we can think that would give us a good starting point.
Ryan: Sure. We go into a little bit more detail in “The White Paper,” which is online. But the really short version that you can think about, try to consider how important is this decision to your customer and how informed are they. That will get you a lot of the way towards some of the insights that we have in “The White Paper.” It’s so easy for us in sales and marketing to overshoot in terms of how important this decision is to our customer, because it’s so important to us. We spend all our time thinking about these products, thinking about the sales process. And for some of our customers, this sale might be very important to them. It might be, you know, the biggest purchase that they make all year. It might be key to their success in their company. But a lot of the stuff that we sell is just not as important to the customer as it is to us.
So if that’s the case, there’s a mismatch. And you can’t think about, “Well, what would I find compelling when thinking about my offering with respect to my customers and my competitors?” It becomes important to take their perspective. If it’s just not that important to them, well then, what are the ways that they are making that decision easier for themselves? Can you get inside their mind and take their perspective, and persuade them in a way that will resonate with them? And kind of speak in the language of the decision that they’re making.
Jeff: Love it. Love it. He is Professor Ryan Hamilton. You can go to his website, mindingmarketing.com, to see more great stuff. Ryan, can’t thank you enough. That was fascinating.
Ryan: That was a real pleasure. I appreciate that you’re doing this podcast. I’ve listened to several. And it’s a great service, translating this archaic academic stuff that’s not meant to be consumed by human beings into something that’s actually usable.
Jeff: I appreciate that. We’ll have you on again, we’ll dive in deeper. Thanks so much.
All right, so there you have it. Dr. Ryan Hamilton with some really, really cool stuff. I don’t know how you were feeling as you went through this Murph, but as I was looking at these four different types of brain, I was applying myself into that picture. And it all made sense to me. I’ve had times where I’ve had that ideal brain and I have had times where it was more of the image brain or the local comparison. Were you putting yourself in the story the same way?
Paul: I was. And I really like the idea of talking about the local mind and picking that bottle of wine. That was a great example for me because that’s where I’m at. But, you know, I’m also an ideal point mind guy, depending on what it is we’re talking about. If we’re talking about tech and, you know, electronics, I’m an ideal point mind guy. So yeah, I could see each of those four minds as we were describing them. It was a great visual.
Jeff: Yeah, but if you’re standing in a Best Buy or in a Fry’s Electronics somewhere and you’re an ideal point mind and you know what you want and you know what you need, and you’ve got a sales person who’s like, “Oh, look at this. Look at the styling on this packaging, isn’t it sexy?” it’s gotta be able to just completely turn you off in a hurry because he’s speaking in a different mind than you’re thinking, right?
Paul: Yeah, well, my mind shuts down. He’s useless to me because he’s not where I’m at.
Jeff: Well, the converse would also be true, right? If I’m out shopping for a car, I’m not a technical guy, I am absolutely looking for how I feel about the car, how much I like the car. So when somebody gets into engine specs, that might work for an ideal point buyer but it’s not gonna work for me. So it’s so powerful to be able to look at it from that side and recognize that your customer, even at different points of the sale, might be in different frameworks in their mind. But if we don’t understand that, boy, are we gonna get into trouble.
I just want to encourage everybody here, we have posted the link to that white paper for those four minds. We’ve posted it in the show notes. And I wanna encourage you to download that and read through it. It’s really interesting, and Ryan Hamilton uses some really good everyday examples that will help you to get a better sense of the four buying minds and how you can adapt your sales presentation accordingly.
Well, let’s head into the wrap up here. We’ve been talking about cognitive ease today and how to make it easy for a customer to buy. And one of the things that we know about the brain is that stress constricts creativity. All right, stress constricts creativity. The more stressed out our customers are, the more difficult it is to make a decision. Because decisions are made out of the creative side of the brain. So if there’s an abundance of stress, it’s very, very difficult to get to that decision. That’s why we wanted to have Ryan Hamilton on the show. That’s why we’ve had others who have spoken similarly about the need to reduce that level of stress.
So there’s an application to your customer, but right now, I just want to talk about you. And I would ask you the question, what are you doing to lower your own stress? Because not only does stress constrict creativity, but there’s another attribute of stress you need to understand, and that is, it’s contagious, it’s transferable. Whether we want it to or not, we pick up the stress of people around us. And if you are stressed, your customer will see it. They will know it. So my question is, what are you doing to manage your own stress? And I want to just add one tip here for you. Build some margin into your life. I just think we get so busy, we get so stretched that there’s no margin. I’m talking about time margins so you don’t overpack your schedule. I’m talking about relational margin. I’m talking about financial margin, energy margin. What do you do so that you’re not stressing everything out and just filling everything up? We need that time to be able to step away. We need to be able to build those little blocks in there.
Years ago, I read a book called, “Margin.” That was the name of the book. I don’t remember the author’s name, but we’ll put it in the show notes. But I have to tell you, it was a very powerful book and very convicting book for me to look at it and say…
Paul: It’s written by Dr. Henry Cloud.
Jeff: Dr. Henry Cloud. Thank you very much. Murph coming through right there. It was such a powerful book for me to look at it and say, “Where am I overloading all these areas of my life?” But when you build in some margin, it lowers your stress level.
Hey, at the beginning of the podcast I told you there would be a giveaway. Today’s giveaway is a copy of my book, “Closing 2.0.” This is sort of a 30-day journey for you to understand not just closing theory, but your closing technique, and how to do it in a way that’s very buyer sensitive. The book will transform your ability to ask for the sale. It’s powerful. And we’re developing an entire training academy that will open this fall around the content. But for a chance to get a copy right now, just go to our Facebook page, like the page. Then find the quote from today’s podcast, and in the comments, enter #buyersmind. We’ll pick a winner at random. Just go to facebook.com/jeffshorecommunity.
All right. Hey, well, listen, we’re gonna ask you, as always, if you’re loving the podcast, let other people know about it. The podcast is growing through word of mouth and that’s exactly what we were hoping for. So tell somebody else. Put it on your Facebook page. Let people know where they can find “The Buyer’s Mind.”
That’s a wrap on today’s episode, hope you enjoyed it. You can find everything you’re looking for at jeffshore.com. But until next time, go out there and change someone’s world.