Five ways to sell customers a new identity using emotional selling

Discussion
Dec 05, 2016
Bob Phibbs

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from The Retail Doctor’s Blog.

Retail salespeople often sell based on the features they think are important. The trouble with that is shoppers are unique; they have their own reasons why they buy things.

Shoppers want to buy using their own morals, values and feelings.

Here’s the thing: if your product or service helps a dad be a hero when he fixes the dishwasher drain, or helps a mom feel like a million dollars in a new outfit for the company party, or helps a customer see herself in a new light as stronger, more fun loving, or more studious, then you’ve helped your customers bolster their identities.

That’s an emotional sale.

Here are five ways to make that emotional sale and get your customer to spend more and be happier.

First, ask yourself, “What emotion will this product give this customer?” This is to remind you that it’s not about you.

Second, based on your initial conversation and rapport-building, go deeper than what are they are looking to buy and ask yourself, “Which of these five emotions is the shopper looking to receive from this purchase?”

  • Will it confirm or give them status?
  • Will it confirm or give them intelligence?
  • Will it confirm or give them pleasure?
  • Will it confirm or give them power?
  • Will it confirm or give them individuality?

Third, use that supercharged emotion in your storytelling about the product and paint a picture of how they’ll feel when they take it home.

Fourth, share at least one story of a past customer’s experience who gained confidence from, say, taking home an Armani jacket and showing up at the boardroom the next day, displaying their individuality at Christmas dinner with local artist place settings, or creating a memory book on their computer with your product.

Finally, reinforce those emotions by mentioning them in your close.  And be sure to tie those emotions into your follow-up personalized emails to help seed future sales.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are most sales in brick and mortar stores based more on analytics than feeling? If so, is that good or bad? Can you recommend any other approaches that involve emotional selling?

Braintrust
"There is no question that brick-and-mortar stores have to do more than display products, talk features and promote prices."
"The aforementioned emotional sale checklist is phenomenal, but advanced sales tactics aren’t applied by ambivalent associates. Something must be done."
"You need an emotional connection with whatever you are buying — even if it is a pen."

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20 Comments on "Five ways to sell customers a new identity using emotional selling"

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Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Most brick-and-mortar stores are based on putting products on display and letting customers make choices. Few sales associates are trained in making sales. The article makes a number of valid points. Many consumers buy based on emotion. Fulfilling an emotional need is a key step towards closing a sale. Many marketers are trying to connect emotionally with consumers, but retailers do little to move the process towards the desired result.

Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

To a large extent, selling has become transaction processing. Store teams are under considerable and increasing pressure to not only deliver sales results but keep the store well-merchandised and, increasingly, act as fulfillment centers as buy-online-pickup in-store becomes an expectation for consumers. If this isn’t all challenging enough, “lean” staffing models see stores under-resourced which exacerbates the problem. I have a profound amount of empathy and respect for the people who work the front lines in retailing today, and while you can still encounter terrific salespeople who do many of the things Bob describes in his article, I believe it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find as retailers attempt to algorithm their way to success.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
BrainTrust

Operators of in-store digital signage have observed that screen-media messaging influences the recommendations that sales associates provide. Category dynamic signage used by Nike to introduce a new golf ball, for example, heavily influenced associates to recommend that ball using information played on the display. Associate recommendation is an element of the in-store experience of omnichannel that is too often overlooked.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

I want to agree with you Lyle. I know I place great value on sales associates who are also product experts. But I tend to find them in specialty stores like fly fishing or trap shooting more than in department stores. In this case, I wonder whether Nike derived more value from the fact that they gave sales associates something easy to point to or from the display’s impact on consumers?

Jeff Sward
Guest

“Algorithm” as a verb — love it. I’m a big believer in the data-driven paths to retail success. BUT, without the “art” half of the “art/science” equation, it all very quickly becomes “stuff.” Or worse, “stuff on sale.”

Chris Petersen, PhD.
BrainTrust

Is it the retail associate’s role to translate the emotional value of a product to a customer?

Most sales associates on the retail floor today are younger in age. To translate emotional value requires experience across different settings and stages. It may be very difficult for Millennials to understand the emotional value of a product for Boomers.

There is no question that brick-and-mortar stores have to do more than display products, talk features and promote prices. A great start would be merchandising products in ways that consumers can touch and try them out so they can personally evaluate how they feel and fit for their lifestyle.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
BrainTrust

This short article by Bob Phibbs offers an excellent outline for dynamic signage content where many factors can impact a buying decision. Too seldom in-store merchandising depends on the product itself to attract attention and close the sale, where perspectives that inspire purchase intent can reinforce value.

Meaghan Brophy
BrainTrust

It depends on the store. For chain stores there are more analytics involved, which allows them to appeal to a certain kind of emotion. Independent stores usually have a stronger community connection and can better relate to individual shoppers. Chain stores can appeal to shoppers not wanting to miss out on that year’s top holiday toy and other keeping-up-with-the-Joneses type of products. Chain retailers drive sales through status. Independent retailers have the advantage when it comes to getting to know individual consumers and catering to a deeper emotional level. Neither of them are bad, just different.

Other approaches that involve emotional selling include donating a portion of sales to a charity or non-profit and offering fair trade products.

Jasmine Glasheen
Staff
Jasmine Glasheen
Contributing Editor
1 year 13 days ago

I would also recommend projecting an emotion that appeals to customers. Too often associates are either ambivalent and seem inconvenienced by customer requests or they are frenetically upbeat, which is equally off-putting. The best sales take place when on-floor staff is calm, approachable and helpful without seeming desperate. Customers shop brick-and-mortar for the experience. They don’t want to be stressed out or ignored.

At my local mall over the weekend I was shocked by how much the shopping experience had deteriorated in just a few years. Stores were understaffed, apparel was unorganized and the few associates that were available were “too cool” to make an effort on the customer’s behalf. Are retail executives quietly shopping their own stores to gauge the on-floor customer experience? Have secret shoppers been employed?

The aforementioned emotional sale checklist is phenomenal, but advanced sales tactics aren’t applied by ambivalent associates. Something must be done.

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

There is some real great meat in the article. The only problem is that such a system is too complex to be used on the retail floor where most transactions are quick and one does not develop the long-term relationship necessary to implement this approach.

Just look at the poll results of the usefulness of this system and see that over 30 percent of the experts who answered the poll were undecided. I think that is the highest number undecided I have ever seen.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

I would humbly suggest I have many clients who do not find it too complex and use it effectively on the sales floor every day.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

I agree with the specifics here. But to me, rather than some big idea about identity this is simply classic salesmanship: understand the value your customers are seeking and help them see that the product delivers that value.

What doesn’t add up is continuing to believe there is separation between emotion and features. The human being is far more complex. And many facts are highly emotional (a superb example being “Mom, I’m pregnant!”). Here’s a blog post I wrote about the emotional impact of facts.

Retailers need to avoid believing these are separate. The key question is, what can you do in your stores to sell to the entire human being? With sales help, with video, with displays and with the products themselves. Only when we sell to the whole human being in balance will we maximize profit.

Robert DiPietro
BrainTrust

It’s been awhile since I’ve worked in retail but 10 years ago retailers trained sales associates on feel/felt/found statements. It was more for overcoming objections but even a decade ago we realized that you can’t just sell on features and benefits. You need an emotional connection with whatever you are buying — even if it is a pen.

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust
This is another issue I take seriously, as the art of selling is rapidly going away with online and BOPIS taking away the opportunity to engage in selling. I was raised by my dad in the proper way to sell, and over the last 55-plus years I came to believe that it is not only a learned skill, but a gift. There are ways to sell something, but for me it is very personal as I want my customers to know that I care about their specific needs and will go the extra mile to make sure they receive more than they bargained for. If this can be accomplished, you will have a customer for life. Be a great listener, be honest, make it personal, as each customer has there own unique needs, and always provide top quality and service before, during and after the sale. There are way too many fast talkers that are not really interested in taking the time to engage one-on-one with the customer, and for me I try to make… Read more »
Lesley Everett
BrainTrust

There is not enough emotional selling skill around in retail and it needs to increase in order to stay relevant. I’m a solid believer in creating an experience for a customer that is about them and makes them feel good about themselves or their day. I always remember an experience I had in a grocery store when a young man stacking shelves in the fruit department saw me looking at the satsumas and asked me if I knew the difference between satsumas and mandarins. He then proceeded to explain with his newly-learned knowledge. That made me smile and feel good, and of course I went back!

Patricia Vekich Waldron
BrainTrust
Patricia Vekich Waldron
Retail and Marketing Expert; Former IBM Executive
1 year 13 days ago

The combination of interesting merchandise, a conducive environment and super sellers is what makes shoppers open their wallets.

Herb Sorensen
BrainTrust

This is a fantastic viewpoint! Thanks, Bob. I’ve spent years trying to adapt just such viewpoints for the self-service retail world. For the “sell yourself” shopper, the process you describe is subconscious unless it is online, in which case the retailer MAY rely on true algorithmic selling. Otherwise personal selling is, and will remain, mostly a high-end phenomena.

Jeff Sward
Guest

My whole perspective is “merchandising metrics,” which is much harder to quantify than financial metrics. Emotional engagement is a huge factor in the equation, and to me it’s more about emotional buying rather than emotional selling. If there is a skilled seller in the transaction, great. But that’s just not usually the case in mall retailing. So how does the retailer tap into emotions? PRESENTATION. Story telling. It’s about the last point in the list … individuality. Make it easy for the customer to be able to say, “That’s ME!”

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Emotional selling is definitely taking place in some innovative stores today. It doesn’t need to be a choice between analytics or “emotions,” however. It can be both. In fact, it SHOULD be both. Real-time personalization can be leveraged to help drive an emotional connection with the brand. Real-time Personalization helps marketers improve customer experience and makes personalization easier by learning through each interaction and delivering the right content to each visitor in the context of their previous interactions with the brand. The accuracy and effectiveness can grow as more data is acquired, and with machine learning, the relevancy can become truly impressive.

gordon arnold
Guest

Sales decisions are stimulated by a prospect’s ownership of one of three emotional motivators greed, prestige and fear of loss. Left unexploited, most people revert to being consumers and simply buy price. Very few sales people will be taught this and/or how to determine which one is the prospects motivator. Even with the ability to identify the motivator, it will take time and practice with observation and input from quality trainers to become effective in this sales arena. When people are good at this, $10.00/hour retail jobs are out of the question for the highly skilled sales person.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"There is no question that brick-and-mortar stores have to do more than display products, talk features and promote prices."
"The aforementioned emotional sale checklist is phenomenal, but advanced sales tactics aren’t applied by ambivalent associates. Something must be done."
"You need an emotional connection with whatever you are buying — even if it is a pen."

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