Do you think people make their buying decisions mainly based off logical considerations of product or service features?
If you are shaking your head “yes,” and if I did not know any better, then I would be right there agreeing with you.
Because, like most organizations, it just seems logical to take, well…a logical approach to selling products and services.
But here’s the thing…
We may think people make buying decisions based on logic, features and statistics. But in reality, psychological factors such as heuristics and emotions are key drivers to people making buying decisions.
“Emotion determines how we perceive our world, organize our memory, and make important decisions.”
– The Swiss Medical Weekly
Here is why this can be so challenging.
While people make decisions based on emotion, they will often justify that decision with logic.
So, even if you were to ask your own customers why they purchased from you, they will likely give you a logical reason such as, “I like your 20-year warranty” or “Your widget cost 7% less than your competitor.”
They are not lying to you, they are simply justifying what was an emotional reason so it becomes a logical one.
Now, if you have a long-term relationship with a client that extends beyond the boundaries of sales, they may let their guard down.
So if you were to ask your client Bob, “Hey, Bob, honestly, why do you like working with my company?” Bob may actually tell you, “Well, we just seem to hit it off” or “I felt good about what you had to say.”
This is a sneak peek into the emotional side of sales that is far too often ignored.
Why Emotions Matter in Sales
It has been scientifically proven that the internal buying-making process is "derived solely from how the brain makes a purchasing choice, not the scope or intricacy of the sale."
Regardless of the size of the sale or the complexity of the sale, the brain's process for coming to a decision does not change. This can be easy to misinterpret.
Certainly, selling a complex piece of million-dollar machinery will take a higher level of knowledge than a $5 pen and pencil set. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the brain uses emotions to assign a value to something.
And these emotions will be used to decide whether its value is good or bad.
"The brain uses emotions to assign value and marketing something as good or bad. It’s how the brain distinguishes between what matters and what is irrelevant."
- David Hoffled, author of “The Science of Selling”
The brain also determines the desirability of your products and services.
If you can connect the significance and value of your product or service with your prospect's emotions, they will desire your product or service far more.
"That's what emotion does for an idea - it makes people care. It makes people feel something."
- Chip Heath, Co-Author of “Made to Stick”
The other important decision-making factor to note is that the buyer's decision is not made at the end of your presentation, after your solution is revealed. It is made throughout their entire experience with your company and employees.
That is so profound it is worth spending more time on it.
Ensuring that your prospects have a positive experience throughout the entire marketing and sales pipeline is essential to converting them into a customer in the end.
The Emotions that Impact Sales
On some level, every human emotion can play a role in the decision-making process.
Here are the primary emotions to be conscious of:
It has been said that fear of loss is a greater motivator in sales than the desire for gain.
Fear, in general, is a powerful emotion in the sales process.
“What happens if you don't address this problem?” can stir up some fearful emotions.
Fear often brings people into the buying funnel
Perhaps a prospect's own sales are stagnant or dropping and they are fearful that if they don't act, the trend will continue. This is a powerful emotion worth exploring in the discovery process.
"Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will."
- James Stephens, Irish Poet
Hope and Aspiration
Who hasn't had the thought, “I would sure like to have one of those.”?
We all have hopes and aspirations whether personally or in business. It is a very popular emotion used by automobile makers, jewelers, beverage companies, travel agencies and more.
Know what someone wants and position yourself as the resource to help them reach these aspirations.
"Where there is no vision, there is no hope."
- George Washington Carver, American Botanist and Inventor.
Excitement creates energy, and energy drives momentum. Energy and momentum can lead to sales decisions.
The antidote to excitement is a long, boring, point-by-point sales presentation that may be logical but doesn't involve the prospect's emotions and it doesn’t promote excitement.
Act enthusiastic and be enthusiastic. But remember, the more genuine your enthusiasm the more power it carries.
“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”
- Gloria Steinem, Journalist
Closely related to fear, a prospect with anxiety will likely delay making a decision at all.
This is not good for a marketer.
Many times, our response to anxiety in decision-making is to simply pile on more and more data. But that can in turn, create even more anxiety.
Instead, validate that it can be a difficult decision and then be supportive. Give them access to resources where they can gain information to empower them in the decision-making process.
In emotional sales, it is impossible to fight buyer anxiety with your own version of anxiety.
“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.”
- Jodi Picoult, Award-Winning Author
A prospect may come to you frustrated or even angry with their current situation or even a current supplier. If this isn't recognized, they may see you as a continuation of their problem, not a solution.
Asking a simple question like, “How do you feel about the way you are doing things now?” or “What do you like or not like about your current supplier?” can uncover these emotions early own.
"There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help and what they cannot."
Think of any emotion that you have experienced, and you can likely draw a correlation to how it will impact the sales process.
Think of some recent purchases you have made, and if you are honest with yourself, you will recognize the role emotions played in your purchasing decision.
How to Connect With and Influence Your Prospect's Emotions
So the answer to three questions will help evoke emotions in prospects:
- Why? - Why have they contacted you? What problems are they trying to resolve?
- How? - How can I help them resolve these issues? How will it help them?
- What? - What must they do to start on the path to resolution? What happens if they don't make a decision?
Jargon words will only serve to sidetrack the emotions of a prospect.
"People need to be able to tie what you are saying to something that they understand and relate to. Something that is concrete. Something that conjures up an image or memory.”
– Nancy Lambert in Super Bowl Ads Secrets
The top two habits of successful salespeople, according to their customers, are:
- They educate me with new ideas or perspectives.
- They make me feel like we’re collaborating.
We too often focus on objections. Objections evaporate in the presence of exciting ideas, solutions, and a spirit of collaboration.
Objections are often based on "data." You need to uncover the emotional reasons lurking behind those objections.
The Human Factor in Sales
It seems the more advanced we get with technology, the less human we get with our selling and leadership skills. Because of that, there has been a dramatic shift in the large number of customers that prefer to work with an actual human being.
Not just a breathing body, but a person with real personality and emotions.
In today's sales world, it is all about the buyer, not the seller. To make it all about the buyer, you must be more human and less robotic.
This means being:
- More personal
- More empathetic
- More willing to help
- More likable to your prospects
Despite this shift, sales professionals are still carrying out the old-school sales tactics such as cold calling, email blasting, and generalized approaches to sell to people.
Quite frankly, most people are now just annoyed by it.
For those frustrated with their sales, the answer may be to "humanize" the process.
When discussing emotions in sales, it helps to remind ourselves of a famous study performed by UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian.
He discovered the impact of the various forms of communication, such as:
- Facial Expression
- Tone of Voice
- Words Used
- Body Language
He found that an effectively-communicated message accounts from:
- 7% of the words used in a message
- 38% from the tone of voice in a message
- 55% from facial expressions used throughout the message
Therefore, nonverbal communication is just as crucial to your success in sales conversions, if not more.
This nonverbal communication accounts for the majority of your interactions with your prospects.
"Nonverbal communication is rarely filtered, unlike verbal communication."
- Behavioral Scientist, Ellen Langer.
In no way am I suggesting that this is easy.
Most of us are so focused on how we are going to respond to a prospect that we are barely paying attention to what they are saying, let alone the emotions they are displaying.
It can be a challenge to tune into not only what the client is expressing but the nonverbal communications being used when expressing it.
You need to train your mind to consciously stay tuned to the emotions they are displaying.
It is something that is easy to forget during a conversation with your prospect since you are already having to think on your toes about a million other things.
It is also something that is very easy to notice once you start paying attention to it.
It is important to know the emotional states of your prospects. Their emotions ultimately drive their decisions to buy from you.
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