Are you an Emotional Seller? Six critical considerations
A study by Gyro found that two-thirds of executives believe that business decisions are shaped by human emotion. As a B2B salesperson, I want to explore how emotions can have an effect on buying decisions.
Here, there are six key considerations for new emotional sellers…
- Emotion varies depending on the risk factor of the purchase – but is still necessary.
Impulsive low-risk sales involve a lot more emotion. Buying a new pair of shoes or splashing out on an expensive holiday make people feel good. But it’s not just the buyers who use emotions – sellers in this space are highly emotional too. A retail assistant is less likely to sell a garment on features and function. They are more likely to use emotional selling: “Is this shirt for a special occasion?” or “that colour would look great on you”.
But, emotion is still present in more considered purchases. A new sports car, for example, has lots of features of a high-risk purchase, but will also make the person buying it feel a sense of pride, excitement and thrill.
It is common to see a prospect get excited about a product before justifying the buying decision with logic. In this case, you want to introduce the emotional triggers earlier on in the sales conversation, alongside the logical argument to buy.
The lower the buying risk, the more likely emotions will be part of your sales strategy. But, don’t ignore them in complex sales – that’d be like selling tyre-pressure features to someone who’d rather feel the rev of the engine.
- Emotional selling can depend on how emotionally motivated your buyer is.
Emotional triggers vary from person to person as well as between different products. There is no fixed emotional trigger that every sales lead will feel towards a particular product, although you can develop some good rules of thumb.
Our friend buying a new sports car, for example, is much more likely to be motivated by pride and prestige than feelings of safety and efficiency. Whereas someone buying a new Volvo might feel the reverse. Where the emotional trigger is less obvious it’s important to listen out for the prospect’s own unique set of emotional triggers. They will usually tell you what motivates them during the questioning phase of a sales process – it is up to you to listen out for emotional language and interpret it.
“We need to be able to compete with the market leaders”, may sound like an innocuous and logical statement, but we could interpret their emotional triggers to be: competition, pride and envy. Reframed this way you could ask how they’d feel being named sales leader of the month and be responsible for blowing their competition out of the water? This is an emotional approach to sales.
Negative emotions can also play an important role. For example, they may be afraid of calculating figures accurately in their monthly reports. It can be just as useful, if not more so, to focus on the negative emotions driving a buying decision as the positive.
Many sales professionals follow SPIN Selling methodologies here, emotionally driven needs pay-off questions can and do work.
- Language affects emotional triggers
Your choice of phrasing is extremely important when it comes to emotional triggers. Typically, shorter and simpler words appeal to our emotional brain far more than longer, more complex words. For example, instead of saying, “Perhaps you are concerned about how difficult the software is to utilise effectively”, you could say, “You might be worried about how hard it is to use.”
The first sentence sounds too scripted and appeals to the logical argument: the software might be difficult to use, taking lots of effort and training. The second statement sounds more natural and appeals more to the emotional trigger: you feel anxiety over using the software.
Often sales people will respond to a logic-based statement with a list of all the features that undermine the rational basis of their concerns. “The filters are designed to be intuitive and you can export the results by clicking this button”, for example. This might help the rational argument, but is unlikely to overcome any underlying fear or emotional responses.
An emotional statement, in contrast, can be followed by benefits that do overcome the underlying responses. For example, you could say, “People tell us just how easy the software is to use, we’ve made it quick and easy to find and export everything you need.” Notice that we’ve not mentioned a single feature, only the general benefits of the software.
- It’s not all about what you say
The questions you ask, the language you use, the emotions you talk about – these are all very important, but they’re not the only things to consider. How you look, the impressions you make, and the visual parts of your sales presentation also make a big impact.
If you are selling a financial service, for example, a suit and tie are going to be a better choice than jeans and t-shirt. If you’re selling your plastering services, on the other hand, a suit and tie might give the impression that you’ve never touched wet plaster in your life.
In each example, you’re selling trust – trust that you, your team, or your product is fit for the task. In order to do that you need to embody the impression you want to project, whether that be professional, practical or something else.
The visuals around your presentation can have a similar effect on a buyers emotions. The most straightforward example of this is colour. There has been a lot of research around the psychology of colour – blue being viewed as safer and more trustworthy while red is seen as more exciting and energetic, for example. Taking design into consideration means that you can present a consistent and coherent impression of your product or service.
Selling a financial service in a suit with a blue and green presentation deck provides a coherent message – this woman knows what she is selling, is professional, and I can trust her.
- Shared interests or hobbies can help you become a trusted advisor
According to the study by Gyro, 70% of executives rate company reputation as the most influential factor when making a B2B sales decision. We know the same is true when it comes to a B2C sales decision – we all prefer to buy a product from a well-known and trusted brand.
Additionally, research by Harvard University has revealed that people assume that other people are just like them in a host of ways, based on even just one thing they have in common. So even if all a prospect knows about you is that you support the same football team, emotionally they’ll assume you are similar to them in lots of other ways and could actually end up trusting you more.
This is important because, as we know, people buy from people they like. So if you can demonstrate that you have at least one thing in common, you will start a sales meeting on the right foot.
This is relatively easy with a bit of prior research into your prospect. For example, they’re likely to mention their favourite football team in their tweets, so take a look through their account before you go. They may have written a blog advocating sales technology, in which case play up the technological focus of your business.
Alignment is fairly easy once you know what you are aligning with. Use available information and tools to do some thorough research and make sure you are going into your next sales meeting fully prepared. Also ensure your LinkedIn page is up-to-date with interests and hobbies, so that when they have a look at you, they can see similar interests you share.
- Don’t forget the rational argument
The Gyro research shows that 61% of executives agree: when making business decisions, human insights must precede hard analytics. Alongside emotional triggers, the rational argument to buy your product still needs to be made. Once you have targeted them with the right emotion benefits of your product, you can use rational sales closing techniques too.
Use techniques like service guarantees, price comparisons, reliability and longevity of the product, or any specific features of the product that help back up the emotional argument you’ve already made. By this point the emotional decision to buy has already been made, you’re de-risking the deal even more with logical reason to commit.
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So, if you’re reading this for the first time and interested in utilising some basic emotional selling techniques, here’s what we now know… Emotions in sales can depend on the product or the buyer. To emotionally connect to your buyer, align your clothes, presentation and find shared hobbies.
Never forget the rational argument for buying, both techniques help de-risk a deal for a customer.