So now we are in the territory of “Persuasion” as the topic is labeled today. From our perspective as sales professionals it is an incredibly important part of our toolkit to be able to “persuade”. Where I have differences with an approach purely based on “Persuasion” techniques is that if you do not provide the customer with a Value Proposition, if you do not do the whole job professionally, there is too much chance of buyer regret that can limit repeat business. However you should master these skills. Remember that about 70% of decisions are made on emotional grounds. Our basic assumption is that you need to look at the world from the customers perspective, how do these emotions affect the buying behaviour of customers?
I believe there are two types of “emotional values” that affect buying behaviour. The first are Ethics or Value Based requirements. During my career the biggest change in buying behaviour is the rise of ethical or value based decision making in business. I cannot remember any executive in the 1980’s making an important decision on the basis of community expressed ethics. I do not mean that 1980’s executives were not ethical; honesty, basic ethics in terms of doing what you say you are going to do, has always been valued and the foundation of trust. What I mean is that only in the last ten years or so have questions been asked and decisions been made where issues such as “how green / sustainable / carbon neutral is your solution?”; “does your fund invest in tobacco, alcohol, or arms manufacturers?”; “does your factory in Indonesia employ child labour?”; as well as other Ethical or Value based tests.
Our much repeated example of the computer that uses less electricity can certainly be positioned as green, or sustainable or reducing the customers carbon footprint. Again although you need to understand whether the individual you are selling to has any of these values; it is usually right up there on the website of the company for you to find if it is a corporate value. If the company or the individual executive behaviour is influenced by values they will be disproportionately important to them. It is clear to me that one of the largest sales I made in 2008 which was to a bank (at the height of the sub-prime recession!!!) and at a time when the bank was laying off staff and slashing budgets; was only approved because the executive pushed it through because it was a Sustainable project (e-Statements) and his daughter was an environmentalist.
The second type of “emotional value” is far more subtle and is about understanding resonance between your sales messages and the personality type of your customer.