Using emotion to improve sales when you’re not Derren Brown.

Have you ever been in a position where you’re absolutely certain that you’ve got all the facts you need to convince even the most sceptical of prospects, only to fall flat on your face? Maybe you’re offering a product or service which is actually better, more relevant, and cheaper than the competition, but still you’re […]

Have you ever been in a position where you’re absolutely certain that you’ve got all the facts you need to convince even the most sceptical of prospects, only to fall flat on your face? Maybe you’re offering a product or service which is actually better, more relevant, and cheaper than the competition, but still you’re facing a brick wall?

Various studies have demonstrated that facts alone just simply aren’t enough. Regardless of quality, relevance and price, people often make purchases for completely illogical reasons. So even with a feature list as long as your arm, if you not capturing someone’s imagination, you might as well just throw in the towel.

In an interesting study by professor Gerald Zaltman from Harvard Business School, he discovered that 95% of purchase decisions are made in the subconscious mind. Essentially, for every decision we have to make, our brain considers a wide range of associations which make us feel a certain way. Often these associations are off-topic and relate to things that are hard to predict. For example, a specific individual may feel a certain way about the colour red and attach these feelings to a company that uses red throughout its branding.

This complex blend of associations are passed through to the conscious mind as feelings, which then quickly affix themselves to each of the options we’re faced with. It’s usually only at that point do we then consider the logical aspects, such as can I actually afford this?

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio made a ground-breaking discovery when he studied people who had suffered damage to a part of the brain that generates emotions. Even though this group were able to think clearly, they lacked the ability to make any kind of decision. When faced with two options, they would discuss the advantages of each, but couldn’t commit to either.

But what if I’m not Derren Brown?

Clearly having Derren Brown as part of your sales team would be hugely advantageous, as he’s made a career from tapping into the subconscious. But for the rest of us, there’s still plenty that can be done to improve sales performance by appealing to someone’s imagination.

For example, be mindful of a prospect’s prior associations with a brand, as these will shape their buying objections. How does a brand actually make them feel? Customer research can be a useful tool in discovering some of these, but there could also be some obvious ones too. Maybe a recent advertising campaign has focused on a particular theme?

Also, it’s understood that we all build a mental picture of a brand in much the same way as we do with other people – we create an actual personality for it. If we like that kind of personality, then we’re more likely to buy into that brand. So consider the type of individual that you’re reaching out to and how they may feel about the brand you’re representing. Are there different ways to position what you’re offering, which help to give a brand the right kind of personality?

In terms of an actual product or service, you should try and explain things in a way that lets the prospect use their own imagination. Ask questions about different scenarios and try to discover their real motivations.

So if you want to notice a significant sales uplift, start to understand the real factors that are shaping a prospect’s decision-making. Creating a product or service, which is actually superior in every way, is still not nearly enough to guarantee that your ideal customer will buy it. But appeal to the imagination and you’ll live long in the memory.

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