Ahhh, the last blog post of the semester. I think that this chapter really sums up the book’s main point, geeks like objectivity, not subjectivity. This is true in terms of work/life balance, job opportunities, sales, etc. I think that no other business concept illustrates this better than selling, though. The difference between selling to geeks and non-geeks is like the difference between night and day, and I think that it is incredibly easy to see.
Selling is the force that drives business. It is what makes businesses money, and it gives them an opportunity to grow. Geek salesmen and non-geek salesmen have to be able to get themselves in the right frame of mind, not only to give their best sales pitch, but also to understand who they are selling to.
Understanding who you are selling to might be the most important part of the sales transaction. To sell to geeks, you need to be rational, using logic to get them to understand why they need to buy something. For geek sellers and geek buyers, logic is key. This means using factual data to determine the worth of a sale. To sell a car to a geek, you’ll have to tell them about the fuel economy, the horsepower, and the safety statistics of the car.
For non-geeks, both sellers and buyers, you’ll have to appeal to their emotions. It is often said that buying something is all impulsive. I think that this is incredibly true for non-geeks, if something looks cool or they can be convinced that buying something will lead them to living a better lifestyle, then they will probably buy it. There need not necessarily be factual data to support any claims. To sell a car to a non-geek, you’ll need to tell them that a certain type of car will help them make more friends or that you’ll feel more comfortable driving it every day. In my experience, car salesmen tend to try and use emotion to sell their cars. Ironically, I’m sure there is some sort of science to back up that approach, but it seems to me that they are more interested in telling you how great you’ll look in the car than how many miles per gallon it will get. That will appeal to them.
This sounds great, either you’re selling to a geek or a non-geek, and you should tailor your message based on your analysis of who they are, right? Well, sort of. The problem is that very few people are on the extreme ends of either spectrum. Most people who identify as geeks will have some emotional impulsive bone in their body, and most non-geeks will use some type of logic. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study has revealed that there might not be so much black and white in all of it to begin with. They say that while on the outside, it appears that non-geeks only use emotions, that there is a distinct line of logic that these emotions are based in, although it might not always be easy to see. Given the relative grayness of the subject, then I think it is probably important to understand selling with logic and with emotion. In a sales psychology blog, the author states that “we buy on emotion and justify with logic.” I think that the whole concept can really be summed up in that sentence. Excluding the extremes on either side, which might constitute 1% of the population, everyone has some type of emotional response to a potential sale based in a logical framework. So, while it is important to understand who you’re selling to, as a salesperson, you still need to be able to produce some logic that the buyer can follow, and you have to be able to appeal to their emotions.
In my own context as a pastor, when I am preaching, I have to sell to people every week. What is difficult about my situation is that I have all sorts of people that I’m selling to at once. It’s not as if I’m a car salesman and can tailor my message to one specific type of person. Rather, I’ve learned that I have to preach based on logic and emotions. A solid exegesis of a scripture with very obvious conclusions drawn is logical, and is great, but then I also have to be able to exhort the congregation to change something, to begin something, or to renew something, which really has little logic involved. Like the author of the article says, “we buy on emotion and justify with logic.” I think this really applies to preaching as well.
All in all, I think that this chapter really summed up what I learned from this class. There is a stark difference between geeks and non-geeks, and when working with either group, you have to be able to step back, reflect on how they might want to hear something, and present it in that way. Truthfully, it wasn’t something that I had thought about very much prior to the class, but it is definitely something that I will take beyond Greenville College.