Are You Soaking In Prospect Emotion

On a plane recently I went through the documentaries on offer. Sadly one I had high hopes for was not really more than an elongated ‘state of the world’ news channel report stretched into an occasionally painful 76 minutes.

At least You’re Soaking In It had impressive looking access to major players in its appraisal of the current Ad industry landscape. (And its featured class of very young school children learning to navigate online ads for themselves really does give you hope.)

The sub-heading of ‘from Mad Men to Math[s] Men’ seemed a useful flagstone. Big Data with fresh college grads running algorithms and ‘guarantees’ of healthy RoIs being the latest magic sauce the sector pushes. In the main, as we were often reminded, the latest attempt to banish the famed old client adage, “half my ad spend doesn’t work – I just don’t know which half”.

I feel uncomfortable commenting this way, but those of cosplay indulging youth relatively new to the arena driven by world-conquering vigour were in the main showed up by the instantly apparent wisdom of the elder statesmen who’s time has now passed.

One such voice of experience cited who they considered the inventor of modern advertising. In the sense of suggesting that rather than being “science”, advertising was in fact about finding that “one big idea” and to sell ‘telling a story’. In his own chosen word, it was “artistry”. No wonder one of his successors called him “the Picasso of the ad world.”

Here’s the key quote, from footage perhaps as far back as the Sixties, from Bill Bernbach;

“You can’t persuade someone on intellect, only through emotion.”

How telling.

At the start of one of my first ever formal sales training days, the outside teacher wrote on the flipchart;


We were asked to finish the sentence.

The answer he sought?


I’ve never forgotten that. Seasoned sales pros around the room offered their views. Political, proven, personal. Each possibly true in certain scenarios. Yet none nail it as the “emotion” lens does.

Think back on when you’ve had the compelling business case. All the numbers add up. The alignment with strategy seems so snug. Yet you end up without a signature.

Yes, such foundations may well have their place. But when these – the “intellect” – assume a greater weight than the “emotion”, you can easily (fatally) lose sight of what’s important.

How does your Sales process stack up for catching this most vital of considerations?

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