Emotions are the key to selling

Nov. 1, 2008
What really drives people to do business with you? You may think it’s your expertise, product knowledge, great service, or even competitive pricing.

By Larry Pinci and Phil Glosserman

What really drives people to do business with you? You may think it’s your expertise, product knowledge, great service, or even competitive pricing. Sure, these are all important, but in today’s crowded marketplace, they simply are not enough to distinguish you from others who offer the same products or services.

Regardless of what you are selling – from anesthetics to endodontics – people buy based on feelings. They buy when they experience certain feelings about a product or service and the person offering it.

Most salespeople are aware that buyers are driven by emotions, but very few know how to evoke the right emotions intentionally. The so–called “natural–born salespeople” – those who consistently produce great results – are able to do so because they know how to create trust instantly with their buyers and reach them on a feeling level. They know how to “sell the feeling.”

Three essential feelings

Take a moment and recall a great sales experience where you were the customer or client. What made it great? What did you feel as you interacted with the person providing the product or service? No doubt you experienced the three feelings universal to human experience that motivate people to do business with someone. In order to truly become successful in sales, you must consistently evoke these three feelings in your prospects, clients, and customers:

Trust – People feel they can depend on you – that you mean what you say and you’ll do what you say.

Confidence – Customers feel you’ve got the goods, the know–how, the competence, and expertise to meet their needs.

A feeling of being taken care of – Clients feel you have their interests at heart and that you’ll take care of them throughout the transaction and beyond, if necessary.

Instant rapport

One of the most powerful keys to establishing trust is creating rapport with your buyer. Great salespeople are masterful at creating rapport. Here’s the key: People like people who are like them and prefer to do business with people they like. Rapport is a feeling of “likeness” or commonality that takes place principally at the unconscious level. Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone new and in a very short time you felt as if you’ve known him or her for a long while? That’s rapport.

One of the quickest and most effective ways to create rapport is to “match” and “mirror” your buyer. Observe his body language, voice tone, and key phrases, and subtly and unobtrusively match them. For example, if he sits back in his chair with his arms crossed, you do the same, nonchalantly. On an unconscious level, your buyer will notice, “Oh, he’s like me,” and this will deepen the connection or rapport between you. The key in matching is to be selective, subtle, and unobtrusive.

Pay close attention to how your buyer speaks. Does she talk rapidly, or with a more moderate, drawn–out pace? Does she speak in a monotone or a variable pitch? Does she use hand gestures? Does she use any key phrases? Subtly and unobtrusively match your buyer’s speaking style, while continuing to match her body language. Don’t try to match everything. Just match a few key aspects of her speech and body language and you will create a subconscious connection, which will lead to greater rapport and a feeling of trust.

Questions are key

One of the most effective ways to elicit the feelings of confidence and a feeling of being taken care of is by asking the right questions. Every salesperson worth his or her salt knows that questions are one of the most important tools in sales and are key to personalizing any sales conversation. Unfortunately, most professionals only ask basic questions designed to find out what a customer wants with regard to their product or service, rather than why it is vital for them to have it and what’s important to them about having it. All too frequently, salespeople frame their questions and even their offer based on their own thoughts, feelings, and biases.

There are three specific kinds of questions salespeople can use during a conversation with a potential customer or client – rapport questions, information questions, and emotional needs questions.

Rapport questions

There are times when it is a good idea to ask rapport questions. These help you find out a little more about the buyer and identify anything you may have in common. In some ways, they’re like the questions you might ask when you meet someone at a party or business function. Rapport questions help enhance your personal connection with the buyer while you build rapport on the unconscious level by matching. You may want to ask some general questions about the buyer, his practice, or anything you think he’d be proud to talk about. Whatever you discuss, show genuine interest and you will help intensify that feeling of commonality that is crucial to establishing trust. Remember: The deeper the rapport, the less resistant your buyer will be to telling you what he needs, considering your offer, and accepting your suggestions to buy.

Getting the information

Information questions are the standard questions that you probably already ask potential clients or customers to determine what they want and the relevant aspects of their current situation. You also want to find out about their previous experience with similar products or services, what products or services they currently use, etc. When you ask these questions be certain to listen carefully to their responses, as they may contain keys that you can use when describing your products later on.

Tapping into emotional needs

After gathering the relevant information, we highly recommend you ask emotional needs questions. These are questions designed to elicit the feelings your prospect anticipates having as a result of owning or using your product or service. When you address emotional needs, your prospect will feel trust, confidence, and care at a level that goes far beyond what normally occurs during a typical sales conversation.

The most powerful emotional needs question is “What’s important to you in (or about) x?”

For the x, you’d substitute your product, service, or you as the provider. For example:

  • What’s important to you in an X–ray system?
  • What’s important to you in a bur?
  • What’s important to you in your instruments?

Since you are looking to evoke powerful, positive feelings, we suggest you add some language about the product or service that will trigger a more emotional response as your buyer considers your question:

  • What’s important to you in an intraoral camera you would absolutely love?
  • What’s important to you in an X–ray system that would be ideal for your particular needs?
  • What’s important to you in a supplier who would be your first choice to work with?

It is vital that you ask the emotional needs question before launching into a detailed description of your products or services. After your buyer answers the question, you may want to elicit additional emotional needs by asking, “What else is important?”

Listen carefully to your prospects’ responses and write them down. When you describe your offer, address your buyers’ emotional needs, using their words. These words are keyed into their emotions, and when you use them you will tap into what they want and need to feel in order to do business with you.

One important thing to keep in mind: do not parrot back everything that a prospective customer or client says. Only declare what you’re genuinely willing and prepared to do for your buyer that aligns with what’s important to him or her. Your declaration is your word, and you must keep it. Never over–commit just to make a sale.

Always remember that people buy based on feelings. By matching your buyers and asking questions that build rapport, gather information, and tap into their emotional needs, you will find out not only what they need, but what they need to feel in order to make a positive buying decision. Sell the feeling!

Larry Pinci and Phil Glosserman are business coaches and corporate sales trainers living in Los Angeles. Their Web site is http://www.sellthefeeling.com. Their book, Sell the Feeling®: The 6–Step System that Drives People to Do Business with You, is published by Morgan James Publishing and was recently named U.S. Book News Best Business/Sales book of 2007.