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Sales Psychology: Why You Need to Weigh Your Customer’s Mental Scales

Sales Psychology: Why You Need to Weigh Your Customer’s Mental Scales

When I decided to do a blog series on Sales Psychology with promo prizes, I had to work hard to convince James Chartrand that giving away valuable consulting time was going to be a good thing to do. I put on my best rapport-face and tried hard to sell her on the compelling benefits of exposure to my awesome readers.


It worked… but only just. James was skeptical. Thousands of visitors, hundreds of insightful comments and buckets of tweets later, she realized that the Sales Psychology bandwagon was not to be missed. I thoroughly enjoyed the moment she emailed through a overly polite guest post request.

This guest post is great news for you because it’s written by one of the world’s premiere web sales experts. It’s good news for me, because it’s the ultimate evidence that I was right all along! Enjoy!

Take it away James….

Peter recently posted an article that describes the pain and pleasure principle in sales psychology. He mentioned that we all have various scales in our minds, and we use them to weight the pros and cons of making a purchase.

Allow me to demonstrate how this works, based on my recent mental war trying to decide between sticking with my PC and investing in an Apple iMac.

Now, I’ve wanted an iMac for quite some time. Apple products impress me, the company upholds good values, and everyone knows Apple creates elite solutions for prestigious people. (And of course, I like to think I’m one of those.) Owning an iMac is a status symbol I like status.

So every day, I have a constant background scale weighing the pleasure of owning an iMac.

Score one for Apple.

But I’m also fairly financially savvy. Of course, I’m human, which means that when I really want something, I’m not very logical about spending. I try my best to curb impulse buying and focus on fulfilling household needs before personal desires, though. And Apple products are expensive I couldn’t justify the purchase.

Which means I’ve fought the siren call of an iMac and put up with fickle Windows and a rather plain PC for years. Go me.

See, I don’t need an iMac. My main line of work only requires the most basic of barebones system. A fancy iMac won’t make me a better web copywriter or a smarter online business consultant, nor will it make me faster, nor will it bring me clients.

And let’s face it when you compare the costs, you can buy three PCs for the price of an iMac.

So my wallet says score one for PC.

My mental scales stay pretty evenly balanced on one side we have my temptations and desires calling for the pleasure of owning an iMac, and on the other, we have my wallet firmly saying needs and money in the bank come first.

Then my PC blew.

I woke up one morning and it was dead. I vaccuumed it out. I fiddled with it. I jiggled plugs and pressed buttons and even cursed in French. There was a faint spark of hope as the monitor briefly lit up but no. Rising from the dead was not to be.

So I weighed my options. Repair the PC and put up with the hassle of not having it around for a few days? I don’t much like working off my laptop. And PCs are frustratingly unreliable. I could say to hell with it, drive to the city and grab myself that iMac I’ve always wanted but I like money in my pocket.

My mental scales were rocking back and forth with every new thought. Convenience versus patience. New and shiny versus old and familiar. Business investment versus business expense. Less money versus more money. Learning curve versus habitual ease.

There were hundreds of pros and cons heaped on my decision-making scales, and choosing to buy or not to buy became extremely difficult yet it all happened in the blink of an eye.

To hell with it! I’d dump the PC at the repair shop and get it fixed. My daughter could use it, and I’d drive to the city to pick up that new iMac. I deserved one. I wanted one. It was time. Decision made!

Or was it?

As I drove to the repair shop, the pain of spending a few thousand dollars on something I didn’t really need niggled at me. I had other options. I could keep the money. I could amass more and buy an iMac in a few months, guilt free. The repairs would be cheap, I’d have my PC back within a day, and life would go on.

I didn’t need that iMac.

But my whispering pleasure fairy tempted me sorely with alluring thoughts. I was James Chartrand, Men with Pens owner extraordinaire! I should have nothing but the best. This was an investment in me, in my business, and a reflection of the quality I stood for. And I had the money to spare. Besides, all my peers own and love Apple products why would I want to lower my status by settling for less?

Fine. I got to the repair shop, told the clerk my PC problems and signed off on the work order, already imagining my impending drive to the Apple store. I’d get a coffee. Listen to good tunes. Enjoy the ride. And come home with that beautiful white box.

Then everything fell apart.

The clerk smiled at me and said these dream-crushing words: “We’re light today; we’ll have this fixed up for you and you’ll be back to work within just a few hours.”

Suddenly, the drive to the city looked long. Time-consuming. Boring. It would put wear and tear on my car. And I’d be back in business shortly a few hours wasn’t long to wait. I had the laptop, It was a quiet day anyways. Hey, I could even watch a movie later on. Besides, it was cold out… wet, too.

And if I really decided I wanted the iMac after all well, there was no rush. I could order online in a couple of days and have it shipped directly to my door. No city drive required. No rush impulse buying. And of course, I could take the time to think over my purchase properly.

Just like that, Apple lost the sale.

All the pain and pleasure scales in my head tipped over a wee bit too far for the sale to go through. Had the repair shop been slower or had the day been sunnier or had I been a little more frustrated that morning or had someone joked I was slumming, you would’ve been reading an entirely different story.

But you aren’t, which just goes to prove how quickly and how irrationally human beings make up their mind. The cost of the iMac was only one factor in my thoughts as I weighed the decision. In the space of less than an hour, my mind set all sorts of pros and cons on the scales and tallied the results.

This means that when you’re in the business of selling, you have to consider all the factors that might run through your prospect’s mind while the person deliberates a purchase. You need to be ready to persuade and convince that prospect so that you can help balance and tip those mental scales in your favour.

Price isn’t always the main major obstacle in making a purchase decision.

The music in a store might turn up (or turn off!) your sales. The weather outside might entice people to spend more (or less). The speed of your service might earn you loyal clients (or send them to your competition). The copy on your site might get them to click to buy now (or make them click away).

All sorts of little details get tossed around into a prospect’s mental mix as that person goes through the decision-making process. And those little details get weighed.

Of course, you can’t know everything about what your prospect is thinking, but you can do your best to cover as many bases as possible. And for those you haven’t covered, you can make sure to ask questions that help you find out exactly what’s going on in your potential client’s mind.

Then you can even out the balance and start tipping the scales towards a sale.

About the Author: James Chartrand is an author, copywriter, online business consultant and owner of Men with Pens, the world-class web copy and business web design company geared to getting client results. James is also a die-hard PC user, though his dreams of owning an iMac may soon get the best of him yet.


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  1. yeah, I went through that same battle… til my laptop up and DIED died, like really dead this time, and not just inconveniently in need of repair. Then I bought the iMac . Once you plunk down money for a product that you love, you soon forget the money and remember the product. I see this all the time when I sell large pieces of art — buyers hem and haw, but when they finally make that decision, they hand you the check and don’t blink.

    Great post, but I predict the real lesson may be that when your product is stellar, you can afford to be patient — money is not the selling point. And I give you six months til you’re singing the happy music ; )

  2. And I’ll bet Peter is sitting there smirking at his iPad as he reads this…. LOL

    You’ve got me thinking James – as usual! About how this can translate to an online conversation, and how to balance those scales via email and on the phone. Because the customer doesn’t even realise they’re doing this, that those scales are tipping one way and then the other.

    It’s more than good and bad pain, the scales are balancing things that aren’t actually related to the product – time, how they feel, if they had enough coffee that day, if they’re hungry or tired. It’s not about the product and your sales so much as it is about the customer.

    I agree with Chris though, six months or less and you’ll have your Mac! 😀

    1. Yes, Peter and his pretty little gadgets… *mutters*

      The tie-in to Peter’s post about asking questions and making comparisons to this post is… well, very relevant. As you can see, I was alone with no one pitching and pattering away at me, trying to get the sell. Were someone there with me – EVEN IN EMAIL – the outcome might have been very different.

      And let’s say there wasn’t even an email connection… a static website always has copy on it. That copy is meant and designed to meet potential arguments and objections and remove them from the reader’s mind. If you’ve an eye for picking out how it’s done, read some of John Carlton’s stuff 🙂

    2. See, in all seriousness though… I actually *need* those gadgets. I run my hold business via being easily accessible to the corporates who pay for that privilege.

      Regarding Sales Psychology, thats why I have the mac, iphone + ipad holy trinity …. because I can totally tip those scales by rationalizing how much of an “investment” it is. I transform it from a “nice-to-have” to a “have-to-have”.

      That might be total bull****, but it helps me sleep at night! 😉

  3. Yep, it’s only a matter of time. Unless another company comes up with a computer that’s more exclusive, even more of a premium product. I suspect that the fact you’re even having that inner debate means eventually you will buy-the door is definitely open and a good salesperson would know. Stay out of an Apple store if you’re not ready to part withe the money!

  4. Once, and only once, have I ever debated about spending big huge amounts of money. It was over 5 years ago when my kids were 5 or 6 or 7 and I was debating about getting them a trumpet for band. After all, they would BE in band …some year!

    So research off I did….and then I came across godlike trumpets that were $3,500. Now, back when I played that king of instruments, I was a skateboard in a Mercedes Benz shop (talent-wise)….but now (then!), I realized….Jeepers! I had the money, I had the success, I *deserved* my $3,500 Flip Oakes Wild Thing trumpet.

    So I bought it. Never regretted it. Stopped playing 2 years later, mind you, but hey…my kids will be able to use it when they’re first trumpet in jazz band.

    It was an instant decision on my part in which I’m glad I indulged. Everyone should treat themselves well once in their life.

    This is one reason why I always try to add, gift yourself with XYZ when appropriate in my sales copy….

    1. I try to set rewards for achieving goals. Impulse buying is bad, bad. So it’ll go something like, “Alright, if I pay this credit card off in full within 2 months, I’ll get that Saddleback bag I’ve wanted.” Gives me something to work towards – and makes it that much easier to fight that feeling of, “Dammit, I’ve been doing great so far… to hell with it!” So far isn’t good enough. Success is.

      Also, up with musical instruments. There’s value in learning to play one. (I play several myself.)

      Also, why are you waiting for your kids to play? Get back into it, you!

  5. First of all James, you’re such a kick-ass writer!

    And too funny on the Mac stuff. I’ve been weighing the scales myself for years. I don’t need a Mac, but I want one. They are so pretty all that emotional stuff.

    On the other hand, I’ve never had problems with PC’s. They’ve always been amazingly reliable. Maybe I have some sort of a love connection with my computers? I have one at home in Scandinavia at the moment that’s 7-8 years old and has never had any problem.


  6. Peter-lovely site here. Very masculine.

    The thread running though my mind as I read was “Why does James Chartrand of MenwithPens not feel deserving of the Mac?”

    1. Hey! Good to see you here!

      Dinna worry, lassie. James Chartrand feels *very* damned deserving of the Mac. But James also has other financial obligations, a hatred of debt, and strong beliefs about doing what’s “right”. Giving into a purchase for status only isn’t “right” in my mind – and not *needing* that symbol for status shows self-confidence, mm?

      (Come, come play… pick apart my words, I love this… heheheh)

    2. Hey Linda! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the compliments – I love having a masculine site… especially since the alternative might send mixed signals 😛

      I think I deserve a Ferrari F430 Spyder…. but I haven’t bought one, yet.

      One of the “takeaway” pearls of wisdom I’ve got from this post is the knowledge of how much other crap can get in the way of us buying the things we want/deserve.

  7. I’ve been going through the Mac/PC battle for years as well! A few years back I went to a Mac store and bought a brand new shiny laptop for my wife. I love the simplicity of the Mac and how user friendly it is. My wife loves how it looks and likes all the cool little features (that she’ll probably never use).

    However, as soon as I got home and set that thing on the kitchen table I looked at it and then I looked at the sales receipt and $1,800 was more than we could afford. I paced around the apartment and gazed at that cool unopened box just sitting there staring at me. I thought about how ecstatic my wife would be to get this little surprise. It was gonna be a GOOD night 😉

    Then the logical side of me piped up and said, “Dude you can’t afford this thing…it’s way out of your price range and you’re going to make payments on that credit card for a long time. Is it really worth it?”

    I’m a geek and deep down I knew I could buy a comparable PC for almost half the price. The debate finally ended and my logical side won the battle.

    I grabbed the brand new box, drove it back to the store, and returned it. 🙁 The guy I bought it from was happy to help me out. He didn’t give me a guilt trip or act like it was going to be hard to return it

    I then went home and ordered an HP online for a lot less and I felt right about my purchase.

    I see how the scales can play a big part in a person’s mind and as marketers and sellers we need to address every issue so our customers are always happy. I was very impressed with how the “return” went that I’m still thinking about buying a Mac to this day. I might not buy one now, but I probably will buy one soon. Mac knows that they need to keep customers happy all the time, so they can brag about their stories online like this one. Haha.

    Great post James.

        1. yeah… this story had me intrigued too! Buyers remorse is pretty common, but it normally takes a while to kick in. Typically when the next credit card bill arrives!

          I’d be interested to know more about the purchasing moment – how that happened and what you were thinking at the time.

          From a psychological point of view, it’s obvious that your internal dialogue (that inner voice that mediates impulse purchases – see Naomi’s comment below) was out of action for some reason when you were at the store. Then, when you got home it kicked in pretty majorly – that much is obvious through the language in your comment. You can literally read that inner dialogue on the page!

          But why wasn’t that inner voice active in the store itself? Only Jared can tell us, I suspect…

          1. I’d forgot to mention it was my first or second time in a Mac store and I was blown away by all of the cool stuff. My wife and I were talking about getting a Mac and in that moment I was thinking it was probably a good idea.

            I knew she needed something simple and easy to use, since all she mainly does is check Facebook, pay some bills, and occasionally write something on the Word Processor.

            I think I kept telling myself it was such a good idea to get the computer and would be totally worth the expense and forced that little “voice” to sit down and shut it. 🙂

    1. as a long time ‘beige box’ windows system builder, i have to fess up and say the stuff apple is putting out really is starting to tempt me. the products are simply beautiful both from the external form factor and the UI. it’s more than just ‘pretty aesthetics’ – there’s a level of detail that is more art than science which makes using the products so enjoyable. that’s where Jobs excels. and don’t mistake apple as still just some 5% marketshare, boutique, style play – they are now the baddest cats in silicon valley. they are bigger, stronger and more mainstream than ever. also just as ruthless as they were back in the day.

      i’m an android / google addict, but i’m really wanting an iPad. i find msyelf more and more in situations where that form factor is exactly what i need. i’m patiently waiting for a nice android competitor, but i think there is room for both here at the batcave. i also dabble in digital music production, and never really gave garageband and logic an honest try – wow have they done a fantastic job with both of those products. also – they cater to developers in a more intuitive way – right now – than google or msft. Google will obviously clean up and organize their ‘platform’ when dust starts to settle and become a proper OS with android and chrome but they are still too scattered. disclaimer – i use google for just about everything, so I’m not bashing here. i use many google APIs and know how cool they are. but there is something to be said about apple not hiding the command line, basing their OS on Unix, coming installed with Ruby and Python (right?) and having what looks like a very cool text editor all embedded. google i still have to use whatever IDE i decide on this week, and god forbid I want to use PHP as a client. the zend framework ‘mess’ they expect me to navigate through is horrid. but knowing how to build your own libraries helps and also – javascript is so amazingly cool. don’t mistake that wildfire of a language as just some script to make ‘bling’ or image rotators or ad servers – javascript is astonishingly powerful and google is embracing it full throttle. people point to the “failure” of Wave or Buzz, but then don’t realize they are probably using the core technology in google docs or some other cool google service. they also point to google’s failed ‘social’ strategy while ignoring Android – probably the biggest ‘social network’ ever. i don’t see facebook as a long term competitor. not unless they get off the web and go for creating the ‘social OS’, but I don’t think they have the chops for that.

  8. okay, serious comment. that doesn’t dig into the whole Mac vs. PC debate.

    The core of the post is that there are lots of things which factor into our purchasing decision-making process, some of which we can control, and many that we can’t. So, what’s the answer? I have zero background in marketing, but for me it’s about creating as intriguing a product as possible so that when the need finally does arise (needing a unique gift, wanting the perfect piece of artwork for the giant blank spot on the wall), my work is the first thing they think of. Is that a good strategy, I don’t know. Is there something else that would drive more immediate sales? Maybe… but would it make me feel more like a used car salesman? Possibly. I kinda like hearing people say they saw my work years ago, and they dug out that wrinkled business card and called me. Is this a sustainable strategy? don’t know. But maybe it’s like the Mac, that thing that you want that keeps nipping at your brain… but is patient enough to wait until you’re ready for it.

    1. Here’s something fun:

      You mention that marketing might make you feel like a used car salesman… and you mention that you work hard on creating an intriguing product…

      But without marketing, how would anyone know that you have this awesome intriguing product?

      Not saying you don’t marketing, mind you. Just pointing out that marketing is simply telling people who would want what we have that we have it!

  9. Nice story 🙂

    Too bad you didn’t give the salesperson at the Apple store a chance to balance your scales. It might have made a different story 😉

    It reminds me about buying a car years ago.

    It was late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve and the snow storm was getting serious. The only salesmen on the floor that day were those who hadn’t met their goals for December. They were feeling miserable. After all, NOBODY was going to walk in out of the storm to buy a car on Christmas Eve.

    When the customer did walk in, the scales in the salesmen’s minds were completely unbalanced. They were so surprised and desperate for the sale along with a promised Christmas bonus, that they put aside the usual sales games popular with car salesmen of the time and actually seemed to help the buyer drive off with the terms he wanted.

    Sales and persuasion goes both ways…we’re all human. Look for the Win-Win solution and you’ll both be happy.

    BTW, think outside the box when you’re looking for a new computer. I had a long (8 years) love affair with a Mac G4 Titanium PowerBook and still like Macs. But along the way a temptress stole my heart away…Linux.

    Ubuntu, to be precise.

    Techie heaven, lots of power and low, low cost…free, including thousands of apps. And it runs on the hardware of your choice, even inexpensive “no-name” stuff you find at Fry’s.

    There are almost always more than two choices.

  10. Get the mac, get the mac…

    Just kidding. I’m a PC person. People are shocked when I tell them. Like if all the designers that ever existed have only used Mac’s.

    I personally don’t feel like paying 3x the amount of a PC for the same thing. And as for reliability…meh. I watched hubby go through 3 Mac’s while I still had the same one PC. All died all of a sudden, no reason at all. When the last one suddenly pulled a “lights are on, but nobody’s home”, we decided to switch him over. After he got over the learning curve, he decided he loved PC’s more too (and we’re talking about a guy who was a devout Mac fan for 15 years prior).

    So yeah, I don’t get all the fuss. But, that’s just me. 😛

    Loved the article, by the way. This stuff about how we make decisions and how the brain works has me utterly fascinated lately.

        1. I was actually checking out if they ship those to Australia….. Nice!

          Now, if you bought those shoes, you’d wear them more often than twice a year. Because once you had them in your wardrobe you’d be looking for opportunities to wear them, and outfits that go with them. Therefore the cost per wear would go down dramatically.

          You’d love them, enjoy wearing them and feel ten foot tall and bullet proof with them on your feet. What’s that going to do to your confidence when promoting your business in person? How long would it take for them to be an investment?

          Don’t underestimate the power of knowing you’re well-dressed!

          1. Ha ha, you are evil Melinda, eeveel.

            Well, high heels generally put me over the 6′ tall range, so I wouldn’t be too far off from 10″, hee hee.

            You’re right although I don’t know if I’d wear them for business or not. Maybe…That certainly would make it more justifiable if I could pull them off somehow.

            @Peter – Do I want to be convinced? Well, let’s just say this. If I wasn’t worried about eating the rest of the month, the shoes would be a more than likely possibility. Since I don’t like wracking up debts, I’m safe from their grips for now. Heh.

    1. Whilst yes, Apple may have lost a sale due to their high prices, they wouldn’t likely be the status symbol you perceive them to be if they were the same price as a Dell PC.

      And don’t forget, an iMac can break down just as easily as a reasonably priced PC (some studies show that Apple products are even more likely to break than some other makes), and will likely cost you more to get fixed.

      Like Naomi Niles, I’m a very happy PC owner in the webdesign world where admission of such can make you a social pariah, the brunt of derision and finger pointing as if we couldn’t possibly do our job on anything less than a 27″ iMac / MacBook Pro.

      Seriously, getting a Mac as a status symbol seems to me to be a ridiculous reason, and a complete waste of money to me. Sure have a play on one and see how you get on on before putting up the cash – like me, you may find you just don’t like the Mac OS and are more productive on a Windows machine.
      I also had a similar experience with an iOS product and am now very happily using an Android phone.

      1. As much as I’d like to argue the finer points of Apple’s competitive difference….

        … I think such a discussion would be missing the point of James’ post entirely 😉

        I’m far more interested in how other small factors (beyond price) weigh into the mental process of consumer decision making.

        1. Oh – I agree – I think there’s far more to Apple than just eye candy – I was more responding to what the OPs point that Apple lost a sale primarily cause of the cost… but how, given a sunnier day, etc they may still have got a sale.

          To me price isn’t the primary reason I don’t want a Mac – I could afford one if I really wanted one, I just prefer the Windows OS – its more intuitive, flexible, and in my personal experience, more reliable too.
          I also have a massive dislike of Apple’s ethics / business model / call it what you will, and am far more excited by what Google are up to as they make good products without any of the flair and hype that Apple have.

          In fact, responding to one of your previous points of a good competitive company with marketing and customer evangelisats like Apple, Google would be interesting but from the opposite point of view – they’re marketing is so poor to the point of non-existent, I would say that is one of the main reasons that stops them being percieved as being on a par with Apple in terms of what they produce.

          1. I think the big difference with Google goes way beyond marketing. It’s a matter of business strategy.

            Google invests in and deploys products/services that are cashflow negative, with the intention of increasing user penetration and resulting use of their search engine. Search and accompanying ads are their number one revenue stream – anything else that brings in cash wouldn’t even be comparable.

            Apple, on the other hand, is providing an end-to-end user experience by creating a device, operating system and (now) media delivery platform… coupled with a successful design ethos.

            From a purely commercial point of view, comparing those two companies is practically impossible and/or pointless. Even if they do both make mobile phone OS software.

          2. An excellent and often under-reported point. Apple plays dirty. very very dirty. some would say ‘competitive’ but i say they play dirty. if you knew how they deal in taiwan, you’d be astonished they get away with it. it’s also no picnic to work there in certain positions (so i hear). Jobs is no joke – and has brute forced his vision into reality. Don’t forget – he’s the majority shareholder of Disney too. That’s sort of a big deal.

            It also seems he actually scared away an almost certain death with his cancer that was first reported as ‘nobody recovers from this’ and magically ended up being the “rare form” that people recover from. i can envision the reaper walking up to Jobs and Jobs bluntly convincing death that he had it wrong, and to turn around and march away with his hooded head in shame – not before buying an iPhone of course.

  11. Man, there is a lot more that goes into sales than I thought. How would this scale apply to a group buying decision? Is there a group scale, or would the sale hinge more on the internal scale that the group’s leader has?

    1. Hi Justin,

      In my experience, most “purchases-by-committee” come down to a leading individual. The sales approach is different – you’ve got to sell to that individual and then equip them with the skills and knowledge THEY need to sell it to the rest of the group, on your behalf.

      Once you’ve got that individual on your side, you’ll literally need to coach them on overcoming their colleagues objections.

      This is often how a lot of high level business-to-business sales happen. Of course, theres no substitute for direct contact with the actual decision makers themselves.

      1. I see this often when I work with companies for website design. They’ll designate someone to ‘handle it’, and that person contacts with me. Then he/she has to go back and report to the committee, they change everything he/she has agreed to with me and sent that person back…

        The trick is what Peter says. Get that single person on your side (or put yourself on his/her side) and suddenly you become a team. You work together to convince the rest of the committee… which means you can tell that person what to say.

        1. Yep! And this is exactly what happened when I attempted to get a non-profit (that I sit on the exec committee of) to hire Men with Pens to revamp their website.

          Unfortunately, I wasn’t equipped to be a good enough salesperson in the face of the other board member’s objections. Sometimes theres just no point trying when the primary motivation is CHEAP. Sigh.

  12. Funny to come back to reading this just after my PC crashed…

    James, just take up online gaming. Then a Mac will never do, and all temptation is removed. Seriously though, I gave a Mac a serious try for six months – long enough to learn it past the frustration stage. Then I came back to the PC. You see, I’m a power user – I know every piece of Microsoft software far too well, and the Mac versions are simply inferior (or non-existent). For me, no amount of sleek design replaces having Excel pivot tables or MS Project available to me. But hey, I’m a geek.

    The real point is that we often decide based on emotion, and then we rationalize the hell out of it, particularly when we feel there might have been a bit of logic lacking. The more I learn to help my clients construct those logical rationalizations, the more I’ll sell. Sadly… my weakness is helping them get emotionally charged up in the first place. I’m good at steak but weak on selling sizzle. Bit by bit, I’m learning to address the “why” before the “how” or “what”.

    For anyone interested in tipping your prospective customer’s mental scales (or understanding why we want to buy Apple) – check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk.

    1. (Oh, hey, you’re from Vancouver…!)

      That TED talk by Simon is one of my all-time favs. I’ve seen it three times already. Love it.

      You’re very right about emotion being in the driver’s seat. Logic’s just along for the ride. And it’s true that it can be difficult to craft that pitch properly – you know you can help, but it’s frustrating to have to TELL people *why* you can help!


      1. Exactly! And even when I manage to communicate *why* I can help, there’s still inertia to overcome. Change is scary, even success is scary, so people procrastinate. It’s almost giggle-worthy some days.

        For example, here in British Columbia, there’s a government program with a one-page application form that will pay the entire shot for me to come on site and train the staff of a small company. It’s a one-page application, so my Web-Powered Marketing Workshops end up costing *nothing*. It’s still remarkably challenging to get some business owners to move to action, even when they know they want and need the training.

        Guess I have to cut back my logic habit and learn to push more emotional buttons… but it feels a bit distasteful, even in a good cause.

  13. You know, this post really makes me think:

    We need some other company to come along and be awesome at marketing and customer evangelization, like Apple. I’m getting sick of, personally, not being able to find better examples for the conversations I have and talks I do with clients.

    Just sayin’

        1. Google does a good job. So does Zappos, but shoes aren’t as sexy as technology. Yeah, it’s tough to beat Apple as an overall example, although I can point to companies that do certain pieces extremely well. For example, for their copywriting and community-building – providing entertainment value while retailing.

          I want a piece of that IPO too, James knows how to take care of customers, obviously, and can write so well it intimidates me.

  14. The tips never stop coming, do they. Quick comment.

    I am about to rush for my first ever client pitch. I am nervous, have butterflies in my stomach and am still wondering how it will go. But posts like these adds more arrows into my sales quiver. Desire, rapport, mental scales…have to weave all that in the pitch

    What does it tell you that I am reading this blog before my pitch?

  15. Having been enticed over here by the mention of an Apple battle, I think I now need to go back and catch up on the rest of this series because Apple versus PC debate aside, what I really want to know is how to find out all these little details that tip the scales in your favour. I’m guessing that a large part of that comes down to knowing your people and who exactly you’re selling to.

    Great story James and just to add my voice to the crowd, I love my macbook. It is the best thing I spent my grandmother’s inheritance on! 😉

  16. After reading the post and all the comments I have come to 2 conclusions: this site is getting A LOT more comments and it is an amazing well mannered group. Other than one person (*cough*andy*cough*) I have not seen any Mac vs PC war comments and that is absolutely astounding!

    I am a gadget GEEK: I have an iMac, a PC, an HTC EVO (Android phone), and an iPod touch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not rich, in fact the iMac is over 3 years old (aluminum body though! :), the iPod was a gift (my first Father’s Day Present! :), bought my EVO on contract, and the PC is one I built using 6 month old parts (which if you don’t know, PC parts that are 6 months old are ~50% price 😉 and deal hunting.

    I have grown up building and loving PCs but the second I bought my first Mac I was Mac only. Once Windows 7 came out, it definitely put my faith back into Windows; Windows 7 is an amazing platform. Mac is also an amazing platform. However, at the end of the day: I still love my Mac the most. Maybe it’s my luck, but I haven’t had the best experiences with Windows but I won’t get into that.

    The reason I ended up buying a Mac: I used one. I was in a Technical school for half the day in my last year of High school and all they had were iMacs. At first it was really weird and my PC fanboyism resented those shiny things. But after a couple weeks I was hooked and I had to have one.

    I explained everything above to illustrate that I have a lot of experience with both platforms.

    What really sells me on the Mac, and why it will continue to be my main computer, is reliability (have had my Mac for 3 years now and runs the same as the day I bought it; WITH NO REFORMATS!), I personally like Mac OSX over Windows, and above all else: Customer Service. One day my iMacs screen would not turn on with the computer (there is a story as to why it wouldn’t, but I’ll skip it since it is irrelevant).

    I panicked.

    I quickly set up an appointment at the Genius bar at my local Apple store, and to my surprise they could get me in within the hour. I rushed up there and was welcome at the door by a polite employee who directed me to the Genius bar and “Mike”. I anxiously waited there as Mike did some tests and then the news came: the whole screen needed to be replaced. I instantly thought, “This is going to cost a fortune!” but before that thought could even finish Mike said with a smile “But don’t worry, it is covered on the free warranty you received when you bought your Mac. We will have to hold the computer and it may take a couple days, is that ok?”

    It was finished that same day and I came home with a brand new screen on my iMac. This level of service is top notch and has “sold” me into buying more Mac computers. It even affects how I do my own business (I work very very hard to make my customer service top notch).

    I know this strays away from your main point of the post with you being a first time buyer, James, but I felt obligated to tell my story! I cannot really relate with you because the reasons for you wanting a Mac differed from the reasons I initially bought mine; especially the prestige one. I don’t know if it was because just a few years ago Apple wasn’t as big as it is now, but I actually felt like an outsider buying a Mac. All my friends gave me grief about it and said I should just stick with a PC, but after using one I had to have one.

    Out of curiosity: How much time have you used on a Mac? I think before making your decision, especially since it is such a large decision for you, you should find a way to get a week or two on a Mac. To me that sounds like a hard task, but since you are James Chartrand and know so many people, maybe it will be possible :).


    PS: I used (parenthesis) a lot in this comment. It just comes naturally for me to write that way but I usually try to stop myself from doing it. As far as Copy goes, are my use of (parenthesis) good or bad?

    PPS: I’ve always been a big forum guy but have stayed away from posting on blogs. I don’t know why now that I have started, this is actually pretty fun and a lot more useful (the forums I go to aren’t related to business). This is a pretty long comment but I flew through it no problem :).

      1. 1. A well-mannered crowd always depends on the people you attract and the tone you set for your own blog. It’s awesome to see Peter’s blog developing into a real nice place to hang out. (I won’t even take credit for that! 😉 )

        2. I home-job my PCs as well – I had to take apart a Compaq a few years back to get it in working order again. The lesson? It’s not rocket science and there are a LOT of how-to instructions on the web. The good news is that I already knew it was the power supply because of my knowledge. The extra good news is that I don’t need to fix my own computers anymore 😉

        3. I agree; Mac has awesome service.

        4. I own a Mac, actually. I have a laptop that I gave to my teen and I use it fairly frequently – but I was sold on a Mac years before I owned one 🙂

        5. Parentheses are good, when what goes in them in actual parenthesis-worthy material. (As with alcohol, loud music and cursing, use in moderation for maximum impact.)

      2. Thanks, Dave, I’m going to check out that WordPress plugin. I didn’t know one off the top of my head that allowed time-limited comment editing. Good to know where to look.

  17. Not only PC here, but cheap reconditioned PC. But, you know what? It works.

    James when you are writing, just remember, “A rose by any other name…” Your writing is fresh, thoughtful and makes us consider the impossible. The tool you use, is really up to you (but I’ll tell Santa).

    When they sell Macs at Big Lots–I’ll wait in line all night. Sometimes the sales psychology is all about the price.

    I have read some of the major stores are conflicted about online buying because they want the customers to make those spur-of-the-moment purchases.

  18. I just started learning about Mac products. Yeah, the price blew me off for years, but after going through 3 PCs in about 5 years and getting a Mac sales position with live chat, I have to learn about Mac products now in order to sell them. My teacher says she’s had the same Mac for over 4 years now. No problems at all. Learning about the integration and ease of use definitely makes me want one.

    I recently behaved irrational with a coaching certification. I signed up for NLP classes and then had a discussion with Melinda about ICF and NLP. Well, now I’m looking into ICF classes. I found one online, but wow it’s a lot of money. They do have a payment plan and I can get certified in 6 months. I was going to sign up and then couldn’t get in touch with the lady on phone or in email. The class started without me. She then contacted me and the next class isn’t going to work with my schedule, but it gives me more time to wait until the next class and get mentally ready for it while working out my schedule.

    Well that’s personal related, but I can apply this to my site too. I think asking open-ended questions helps get customers talking about what’s on their mind. Thanks for your post, James.

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