While many people think that emotions have no place in sales and it’s logic that matters, that’s simply not true. All sales deal with some degree of emotion, making it of utmost importance for salespeople to recognize and understand. It’s critical for sales managers to learn about emotions that motivate customers and training sales reps on how to incorporate emotional selling into their sales process.
How Does Emotional Selling Work?
Emotional selling is a sales management strategy that works by understanding how a purchase makes your customer feel. Sure, your products and services have an actual purpose, but the best salespeople know to find out what really motivates a person to make a buying decision, rather than just focusing on the features the sales rep thinks are most important—and remembering that every prospect is different.
As a business-to-business (B2B) example, imagine you just sold a school superintendent a new website and mobile app. It’s a great product, but when selling it, a smart sales rep would appeal to the sense of pride and community engagement since the superintendent is motivated by having a website and app they are proud to show off—especially if they expressed they weren’t happy with what they currently had.
As a business-to-consumer (B2C) example, imagine you are selling washing machines and dryers. You not only sell a busy parent something useful, but you make them feel proud they are able to take care of their family and relief for saving time and not having to go to the laundromat.
The Emotions That Affect Buying Decisions
There are a wide range of emotions that affect consumers’ buying decisions, which makes it important for salespeople to understand each one and what’s behind it. Here are the main six emotions that play a factor in sales:
Fear is a powerful motivator in general. For example, someone might feel rushed to make a buying decision due to lack of time. Imagine a bride who has two weeks until her wedding but can’t find the perfect dress. Fear would likely motivate her to make a decision quickly.
Greed is an important factor in sales because people tend to want what other people have. You see it all the time in fashion—once a certain style becomes popular, everyone wants to have it. I even saw it when I worked in edtech selling digital products—all teachers and administrators were competing to have the best websites and apps.
Similar to greed, envy is an emotion that spurs the competitive spirit. For small businesses, they might feel that if they don’t buy that product you’re selling that will improve their shipping time, their competition will win over them.
Altruism is a great emotion because it gives people those warm fuzzies when they feel like something they bought helps the greater good. For example, some retail companies advertise that they give away one of their products to a child or family in need with every purchase.
Some businesses let prospects know that a certain percentage of every sale goes to support specific nonprofits. Most people are willing to pay a slightly higher price knowing that they did something good.
Shame takes a place when a prospect feels like they are going to look silly or lose trust if they don’t make a decision. However, salespeople should be careful when appealing to this emotion—no one likes the feeling of being ashamed or that they will let others down. A sales rep could paint a bleak scenario if they don’t buy, but they can be a hero if they solve a business problem, making them feel what the last emotion is—pride.
Pride comes into play when the customer feels they will look smart or be respected if they make a purchase. For example, if a woman is convinced to buy an expensive purse, she feels proud to show it off regularly. If a CEO purchases a great customer relationship management product that his sales reps love and are successful with, he feels like a hero to his team.
Making Emotional Connections During the Sales Process
Now that we’ve covered the main emotions that have an impact on sales, let’s focus on how to read those emotions and cover some examples of how you can use them to your advantage and incorporate them into your sales plan to close more deals.
The first part of making emotional connections involves having a high level of emotional intelligence (also known as EQ). This gives you the ability to read people and acute awareness of what emotions they are experiencing so you can best hone your response. Remember, do more listening than talking, especially at the beginning of the sales conversation.
Emotional intelligence involves both personal competence and relational competence. Sales managers should reinforce these competencies in sales training and look to hire people who possess a high level of emotional intelligence.
Emotional Selling Strategies
Honing in on your prospects’ emotions and using language that makes them feel like you understand and share their values is key, but no one likes to feel like they are being taken advantage of, so you need to be careful with the words you choose. As a rule of thumb, remember to listen more than you talk so you can capture the emotions they are feeling, rather than jumping right into your pitch and talking about yourself, your products, and your services.
For example, if you sense that their driving motivator is fear, focus on the personal consequences of not taking action and making a decision. If they feel like they have something to lose by not buying your products or services, they will be more likely to convert and reduce their fear. You can use phrases and words such as “lose out,” “consequence,” and “harm to your business.”
On the other hand, if you can tell your prospect is motivated by altruism and making a positive impact, talk about how partnering with your company and making a purchase serves the greater good. For instance, you could tell stories about the nonprofits that your business has helped have helped those in need, as well as your company value of always giving back. You could also talk about the benefits for employees, such as helping them save hours per day with your automation software.
Now, let’s imagine your customer is motivated primarily by pride. Focus on what making a buying decision will do for their self-image. Will they gain status in the company for choosing a product or service that grows revenue? Talk about any awards or recognitions your company has received—those motivated by pride like to work with businesses with an excellent reputation. Use words such as “respect,” “power,” “influence,” and “prestige.”
Pro tip: Work hand in hand with your marketing team to make your online presence appear emotional and human to your customers. For example, include an “About Us” section on your website that details your company mission and vision and features staff members, and also include customer testimonials and success stories on your website. Additionally, marketing can tell emotional stories on social media and in email campaigns.
Benefits of Emotional Selling
While emotional selling is relevant in every business, whether you are selling wedding dresses or computers, there are main benefits every company should be aware of. Just a few of the key benefits include:
- Customers are fully invested in their purchase and use the products and services they’ve bought.
- Stronger relationships between sales team members and customers increase loyalty and reduce churn.
- Happier, invested customers who feel personally connected to the company are more likely to refer people from their network.
- Increased emotional intelligence fosters positive communication across your entire business.
Tools for Emotional Selling
While emotional selling is a sales strategy focused on building connections, it’s still part of your overall sales process. There is no shortage of tools that make it easier to manage your sales relationships and conversations. Some of the tools you should consider include:
- CRM: Customer relationship management (CRM) tools help salespeople track conversations and sales activities, collaborate with team members, and make sure a prospect doesn’t fall off the radar.
- Task management software: These are tools that help you manage your to-do list, communicate with your team, set reminders, and store files so nothing falls through the cracks.
- Video conferencing software: Video conferencing tools help forge emotional connections with body language when you can’t be in person. It’s great for remote companies where sales are often conducted online.
- Scheduling software: Your prospects and customers should be able to easily reach out to you to find time to talk. Meeting scheduling software connects to your calendar availability and gives you a personal link to share, so your prospects know the best time to set up your next meeting.
- Customer personas: Creating customer personas helps you research and understand your target audience and predict what emotions they are most likely to associate with.
A CRM is one of a salesperson’s best weapons for keeping track of conversations, activities, and making notes about prospect emotions. For example, Salesforce Essentials helps you manage all your sales activities, including the Salesforce Inbox for keeping track of all conversations and offering easy collaboration between your email inbox and your CRM.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What should salespeople avoid in social selling?
It’s important to not only focus on emotions or to “overdo” it. It’s still critical to be well-versed in the capabilities of your products and services and know how they can best help your prospect. Additionally, it’s important to tread carefully with the emotion of shame in order to avoid embarrassing your prospect and turning them away.
What are some of the questions I should ask to determine what emotions motivate my prospect?
This usually comes out pretty easily when you first start talking with your prospect. For example, if they mention they are worried about running out of time to make a decision, you can bet on fear. If they say they feel like they aren’t as fast or as good enough as their competitors, it’s pride or envy. You can also simply ask questions such as, “What’s the hardest part of your job?” or “What’s one way you would change the way things get done?” to hone in on their emotions.
Emotional selling is a key aspect of selling and can result in more revenue and satisfied, loyal customers. Emotional selling skills include having a high emotional intelligence to understand your prospects’ emotions, understanding the emotions they feel that drive their decision-making process, and knowing the best ways to respond to emotions. Furthermore, smart companies use tools and software to help automate and keep track of their customer interactions.