After working on Wall Street for 14 years, I've always presented facts and figures to B2B buyers because that's how I felt serious business people made decisions. This belief was backed by 2,500 years of conditioning.
It started when Plato said that man is rational and that it's our emotions that interfere with rational decisions. But recently, I had an experience that called this belief into question. Shortly thereafter, I was presented with a compelling study from neuroscience that also refuted this belief. So when these two events collided, the myth that buying decisions were strictly rational was busted. I now understood why customers get stuck in analysis paralysis, and what I could do to help then to avoid it.
My experience began when I was about to make the most important buying decision of my life. My daughter, Isabelle, was leaving her small community school, and she was off to grade seven in the city. I had to make sure I made the right decision, so that she'd be on the right track to get into a good university. So, I created a selection matrix on Excel, and off I went to the school's open houses to make the optimal choice.
The problem was that all the schools seemed the same. I felt nothing. I was stuck in analysis paralysis.
When a good friend, Professor Pete, asked me how it was going, I said, "I can't decide. I've seen seven of the top private schools, and not one has inspired me." Pete suggested I check out Voice, a small performing arts school in the distillery district not far from my home. Although I didn't see how an arts school could help get my daughter into a good university, I agreed to go because I respected Pete's opinion.
The next week, Pete asked me how it went.
"Terrible," I said. "Within five minutes of visiting the school, Issy and I both decided on Voice because it felt right."
"Sounds great," said Pete. "But why is that terrible?"