In this climate of negative buyer/consumer sentiment and talk of a new recession, making the emotional connection with the buyer is even more critical than ever for the aspirational sales professional. The concept of making the emotional connection in the buyer conversation is certainly not new, but there seems to be an irony at play here in the way that a large proportion of seller-buyer conversations play out. Since the GFC, more than 10 years ago now, most industry’s products and services have become increasingly commoditised. And with this ugly trend, comes the inevitable corollary of buyer price sensitivity. The sad reality is that a buyer is more likely to trade-off some level of good “wrap around” service (since core product or service differentiators are perceived to be diminishing to negligible in many industries) for a few “shekels” saved on price, than what was the case pre-GFC. Yet many sales professionals unwittingly “fight fire” by pouring kerosene on it. They try even harder to “educate” the buyer on their product/service technicalities and features-benefits to win the sale. Which insidiously drives the conversation away from making the emotional connection with the buyer.
How to redress?
Firstly, it is useful to think about the notion of “making the emotional connection” on a spectrum. Think about this scenario at the “clear and obvious” end of the emotional spectrum – the retirement living village seller conversing with the retired couple making the move from the family home into the retirement living environment. It would be harder to think of a sales conversation scenario where the emotional drivers of the buying decision are more obvious. At the alternate end of this spectrum, the seller of generic medications into pharmacy. It would be hard to think of any pharmaceutical purchaser, buying on behalf of any pharmacy establishment, getting emotional about the generic choices between medicines that have the same active ingredient.
But the good sales professional, in any environment, regardless of how obvious or otherwise the emotional evocation in the product or service being considered by the buyer, knows that there is always an emotional connection to be made with the buyer through the sale process. And that this capability makes the difference between a high performer and an also-ran. The key is in the clarity of thinking about the model that makes the sometimes not-so-obvious very obvious.