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The Importance Of Emotional Selling |  March 05, 2015 (0 comments)


Boston, MA—David Lewis wrote in his fine book, Impulse, “We all like to regard ourselves as rational human beings. To believe we act only after careful reflection and thoughtful deliberation. The fact is, however, that our actions are mindless far more often than they are mindful: the product not of logic and reason but of habits driven by emotions.”

If this were the Wild West, this is the point where all the retailer-cowboys and cowgirls would throw their hats in the air and shoot their guns skyward to celebrate the fact that it’s not all about the facts. If it were all about the facts, why would we need brick and mortar stores? We could simply shop online to our heart’s content, any time of day or night, in any attire of our choosing. Okay, don’t give that last one too much thought!

Great salespeople are not successful because they know more stuff than their colleagues. They are not successful because they strong-arm their customers into submission and—listen closely now—they are not more successful because they are luckier than their less celebrated co-workers. They are successful because they understand how to emotionally connect with their customers and to create meaningful experiences that transcend mere product information.

As a point of clarification, I am clearly not advocating that product-knowledge is a bad thing (we should all embrace learning with our every fiber), but it does mean that we must choose to connect on a level that is more about feelings and less about information-dump.  As Sheena Iyengar wrote in The Art of Choosing, “We tend to have a better memory for things that excite our senses than for straight facts and dry statistics.”

If you want to become a better salesperson, here’s an idea: Find a great salesperson and study her. Notice her body language. Listen to her greeting. Learn from her closing techniques. What I suspect you will discover is that she has a passion for what she does, that she believes that the customer is better off for having worked with her. What you will likely see is that she listens well and she speaks with an assertiveness that instills confidence in her customer.  She is, by all accounts, connecting on an emotional level.

Grab your phone’s notes section (or even an old-fashioned paper notepad!) and make a few observations. Watch for things that salesperson does consistently as she works with her customers. I expect that you will see a pattern of behavior that repeats itself again and again, even on those occasions when she is not successful in closing the sale. She has a game-plan and it always includes emotionally connecting with her customers.

Peter Smith, author of Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions To Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent, has spent 30 years building sales teams at retail, and working with countless numbers of independent retailers as a brand-executive, to offer his counsel and advice on personnel matters. A graduate of Boston College, he has served on the Advisory Board of Caliper’s Global Conference and is a contributing panelist on the KR Executive Group’s Talent Blog. Smith has worked for Tiffany & Co., and was executive vice president of brand development for Hearts On Fire, where he authored the Menu For Success, a roadmap for retail success.  Smith’s book is available in print or Kindle digital edition on 

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