Yesterday’s Sales Psychology post looked at the mental make-up of salespeople themselves and broke down the beliefs required to successfully pitch products.
Today, I’m counting backwards through my Keys to Sales Success by analyzing the logical, rational approach to sales. You’ll get specific tips that show you precisely how to rationalize the dollars right out every prospect’s tightly guarded wallet.
If you’ve just discovered this website, I’ve got good news: This article is part of a series and for the month of September I’m giving away thousands of dollars worth of consulting, plus a bunch of other great stuff.
To be in to win just subscribe to this blog, tweet the posts in the series and participate in the comments. Check out the full details right here.
Emotion versus Logic (battle of the sales gurus)
In the 70s and 80s every sales training consultant worked hard to convince the world’s corporations that the secret to their customer’s dollars lay in the artful manipulation of logic and reasoning.
In the 90s some clever person figured out that emotion made the big difference. The gurus started saying things like “People only ever buy what feels right”.
They’re both right. James Chartrand summed it up perfectly in a comment the other day:
“We buy on emotion and justify with logic.”
Both elements are critical parts of the same sales equation. If you want to be the best salesperson possible, you must master both.
It’s also worth noting that sales techniques lacking logic tend to create buyers remorse. Why? Because the right feeling might make you hand over cash but it’s “good decision making” that’ll keep you happy for weeks to come.
Good decisions need to be rationalized and justified. Here’s how to make sure it happens every time…
A few weeks ago, I was unfortunate enough to get pitched by an “emotional sales” trained sales rep. I was shopping for summer clothes – having just finished my recent mountain hermit experience. Having already decided to buy an armful of stuff, the eager shop assistant asked me if I was “… on the lookout for shoes today?”
When I replied with a noncommittal mumble, he dragged me over to a rack of beautiful Italian business shoes, loudly describing the various kinesthetic and emotional good vibes that other customers had reported after wearing them.
The poor guy was doing his best. In his defense, I was wearing a suit and tie. He thought I looked like someone who might buy a pair of overpriced shoes.
The problem? I already own a pair. I was wearing them. I wasn’t looking for business shoes – I was looking for sneakers.
First step: Find the Buying Criteria
Our buying criteria is the logical checklist that we hold at the front of our conscious mind while shopping for anything. It’s what we tell ourselves we want.
Eliciting the buying criteria from your prospect must always be the first step in any sales pitch. This fundamental piece of rationalization must come before everything else.
Why? Because otherwise you don’t know what the hell the person wants!
The shoe salesman had a fantastic opportunity to show me sneakers, but he assumed my buying criteria and pissed me off by delivering a “hard” emotional sell for something I didn’t want.
Opening your prospect’s mind to other purchase opportunities is a valid argument, especially in retail… but it’s only ever appropriate after you find out what they’re really after in the first place.
The over-eager shop assistant missed the chance to sell a pair of sneakers (which they DID stock) simply because he didn’t think to ask “What else are you looking for?”
Finding the buying criteria is easy. If you’re involved in face to face sales, just ask. People will appreciate it. If you’re selling online, simply make sure that your landing page gives people ample opportunity to find what they’re looking for. Even better, clearly list what you’ve got so that the people who don’t want it can move on, fast.
Second step: Give reasoning suggestions
Once the buying criteria has been established and you’ve confirmed that you have what the prospect wants, it’s time to do battle with the inner critic.
Don’t start meditating on the voices in your head – I don’t mean your inner critic, I mean the prospects! As a salesperson, you need to be able to reach inside their mind and silence the subversive outbursts of that voice of so-called reason.
The inner critic isn’t always negative or destructive. It’s main objective is to keep us safe. This can be either deadly or fantastic, depending on the situation. In the context of purchases, the inner critic pipes up to protect us from impulsive, stupid decisions. This is good news for trigger happy consumers but bad news for you, the salesperson.
And it gets worse…
While your prospect’s inner critic is trying to talk them out of buying your stuff, it is also playing an insidious psychological game. It adopts the form and voice of nearest and dearest family and friends. Is that manipulative or what?!
The prospect will unconsciously hear their partner’s voice, questioning (or berating) them for making an unnecessary purchase. Perhaps they’ll hear the voice of a good friend, doubting their judgement. Some people (more than you’d think) hear their parents warning them to watch their spending.
No matter what the judgement, criticism or question is, the unconscious mind wraps it up in a voice that pushes enough emotional buttons to get noticed. Like a shapeshifter scrooge, it morphs into an authority figure who’s opinion the prospect values.
This is what you’re up against.
The good news is that your prospect is up against it too. She desperately wants to buy what you’re offering, but the voice of the critic weighs heavily on her mind.
How to silence the inner critic for good
When crafting your pitch, scripting your patter or writing your copy, you need to list the logical, rational reasoning with which your prospect might disarm the voices in their head.
At the penultimate moment of the sales process, it’s likely that your prospect will be paralyzed by the inner critic and it’s emotional hold on their thinking. This vice-grip prevents your client rationalizing to the best of their ability.
Enter the salesperson – it is your job to help!
Here’s the formula to craft your critic-busting pitch:
1. Think of all the people who will be affected by your prospect’s decision to buy. Depending on your product, you may need to include even people who would notice your prospect’s purchase. e.g.
- Close friends
Not all of these will be relevant – it all depends on your specific product.
2. List every rational justification for your purchase you can dream up.
3. Test them out with your own inner critic. Run through the list of people you’ve got and imagine them berating you for buying your stuff. Are your reasons good enough to shut them up?
4. Go back to step three and be twice as tough. I shouldn’t even need to explain why.
5. Incorporate your new found rationalization into your pitch or advertising.
My business took off through rationalization.
Years ago, I often struggled to successfully pitch my consultancy services to large corporations. I didn’t know it at the time, but every time I failed it was due to a lack of rationalization.
When I pitched a “decision maker” their inner critic would morph into their boss. Even as I spoke to them, I’d see their eyes glaze over as they heard questions like:
“You’re a manager, why do you need a consultant to help you manage your people?”
“Why can’t you sort out your own staff issues?!”
“How is this expense justified?!!”
Everything changed for me when I figured out what was going on. I started pitching executives a trial service. I’d develop their sales people or leadership team and deliver a comprehensive, empirical Return on Investment Report upon completion.
I’d even show them an ROI report from a previous client, just to give them a taste of what was to come.
An ROI report completely justified the expense. The ability to drop a slick folder onto their bosses desk was music to their ears. The inner critic slunk away with it’s tail between it’s legs!
Want to boost sales? Rationalize and justify the decision to buy, for every prospect who crosses your path.
What do you think? Share your ideas for rationalizing your product in the comment section below this post.