How do personal values, beliefs, and attitudes affect the selling process? This is where the marketing concept of psychographics comes in. Why? Because two of the component parts of psychographics include beliefs and attitudes. But what exactly are beliefs and attitudes, and why are they important in selling?
It is said that beliefs and attitudes provide the “reason why”customers buy things. In a way, this is true, but I want to go a little deeper by defining what they are, and how we can use them to make the sales process easier.
The dictionary definition of a belief is that it is an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. I think it is more than that. A belief, in my definition, is a statement that allows a conclusion to be made, even though the underlying facts are not readily available. For example, you might say that you believe living your life with integrity leads to an abundant life. You can point to anecdotal evidence to support your conclusion, but at the same time, someone else can point to anecdotal evidence that they saw a person with spotless integrity that died a pauper.
An “attitude” is defined as “a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.” I would add that is an orientation to the situation (as you see it) that is in front of you. With that in mind, I “believe” that there are three basic postures or attitudes that you can have toward the situation you are in: flight, fight, or engagement.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, you either flee from it because you don’t like it, you fight against it because you see it as an enemy, or you embrace it, because you think it will bring you happiness.
For example, my daughter doesn’t like doing her homework. We might say she has an “attitude problem.” The situation is she is avoiding it (fleeing). When we as her parents say to buckle down and do it, she gives us “attitude.” In other words, she fights against doing it. Then we tell her, in those strong words that parents always mutter, “you need to change your attitude.” In this situation we want her to “embrace the task” because, in the long run, it will make her life easier. And hopefully, it will make her happy when she gets a good grade in the class
How does this have to do with selling?
In psychographics, we want to find out and document a person’s attitude toward our products. Are they fleeing from it, fighting against it, or embracing it? Obviously, we want to try to attract those people that are willing to embrace our products. If they are fighting against our wares, then our marketing efforts will be fruitless. I’m sure you can see the waste of spending money to attract people that are predisposed to hating our product.
Where beliefs come in is very similar. We want to attract those people that have a belief that using our product will help them to succeed in some way.
Are beliefs and attitudes related? Absolutely.
If we have a belief that a product will help us, our attitude toward the product will be positive. In other words, the attitude will be one of embracing the product.
I am a graphics-geek. I love graphics programs like Adobe Illustrator, adobe photoshop and the like. Because I believe that using these types of computer programs will help me in my job. I also have an attitude of embracement for the programs, so I will be more receptive to receiving marketing messages about them.
Which comes first, beliefs or attitudes? The beliefs come first. You can’t have a positive attitude toward a product unless you first believe that it will help you in some way. For example, a “Does it make you happy?”
You can work actually work back and forth between beliefs and attitudes. If you sense that a person has a bad attitude (fight) about a product or service, you can surmise that they have an opposing belief. For example, if you know me, you know that I despise going to the post office. My attitude, just entering a building, is one of “fighting.” My wife gets embarrassed because I can be snippy at the postal employees.
Why is this? Because I have a belief that giving good service will get you, customers. But every time I go to the post office, I seem to get an attitude from them in return. For example, a few weeks ago I went there to get a passport renewed. I got there early on a Saturday morning when there was nobody waiting in line, either in front of me nor behind. When I got up to the register, the postal clerk says: “you need an appointment.” Even though they will be the exact same person that will be doing the passport renewal when I do have an appointment. That just burns my chops.
The attitude that I got from the postal clerk was first one of flight (they didn’t want to do the passport renewal), and then since they were cornered and couldn’t flee the counter, they chose to fight and say to come back later.
Where Do Beliefs Come From?
This is the million dollar question. The conventional theory is that beliefs are instilled in us by our parents. This theory makes sense because we are learning creatures after all. We learn our ABC’s and how to do arithmetic, so it makes sense that we also learn our beliefs from our parents. Our parents definitely do express their beliefs to us, and they reinforce them over and over again. How many times do they have to tell us to do our homework?
But if we learn our beliefs from our parents, why the attitude? Why do our kids’ rebel (a fighting attitude) against our advice instead of embracing it?
Maybe there is something wrong with the theory that our beliefs are instilled into us by our parents. Maybe we’re missing something.
My own personal theory is that our beliefs come from our “values.” Our values are what are important to us. The beliefs are derived from those values. If you value authenticity, then you will have a belief that expressing your authenticity will bring you success.
There are four categories of values, and the ones I’m talking about here are “guiding principles.” These are not learned from our parents, but they do come from our parents in the form of DNA. They are hereditary, just like our hair and eye color comes from our birth parents. Because of that, a lot of times we have the same values as our parents. People mistake this because it seems to only reinforce the theory that beliefs come from parents. Unfortunately, it masks that the other theory that values come through genes.
Because genes are expressed differently, there are times were our values are completely opposite from our parents. And this is why there are numerous examples where the children’s beliefs are completely different from their parents.
The important part here is that beliefs flow from our values, not the other way around. Values to do not come from beliefs. It is the beliefs that flow from our values.
Psychographics may include beliefs and attitudes, but the because those attributes flow from values, it would be a better use of your time to study and document “values.” For the sole reason that you can deduce beliefs and attitudes.
What is the next step to increase your sales?
If you want to use the psychographics tool to make your marketing more effective, the next step is to catalog the values of your core customers. Then you can create marketing messages that appeal to those values.
The good thing is that I’ve already cataloged the values for you. They are in the book Selling by Personality Type. All you have to do is determine which personality type your core customers, and then read from the chart the values they hold as their guiding principles. If you have problems determining their personality type, just feel free to give me call.