Selling in an Emotional Earthquake.
This economy has changed a number of consumer behaviors. The problem I have noticed is that salespeople are not paying attention to the behavior change. True, they are aware of the economy, however, they are still over trusting their sales process and have yet to make an adjustment to the new buyer. It is not that the new buyer is so new. It is actually the same buyer, they have just changed their behavior so dramatically that they no longer look the same. What are these behaviors you may ask? Let’s review just a few of them.
1. Increased Emotional Intensity
We have always known that the buyer is emotional. Every purchase regardless of the product or service has some emotion attached to it. All that is still true, however, the intensity of these emotions are significantly higher. Today’s buyer buys because they are really emotionally attached to the product or service, or they do not buy because they really hate the product or service. They idea of “feeling” neutral has eroded. I have looked at customer service surveys and it is the extreme ends that are being selected the middle ground is gone.
2. Increased Excuses and Lack of Commitment
We have all heard of “Buyers’ Remorse”. We are now moved into “shoppers remorse”. The remorse is starting before the purchase is complete or the contract is signed. More frequently before the contract can be executed a buyer will “run” away and avoid the commitment. The excuses buyers use to escape their commitment are many. It usually is a result of the very first point made. The increase in emotional intensity is so overwhelming in order to reduce the intensity or “escape” it. The buyer finds a way out. As the buyer continues to do this over and over again it only reinforces and increases the future behavior of “escape”. Behavioral psychologists call this “negative reinforcement”.
3. Increase in Unethical Buyer Behavior
Money is not evil. However, it is written that the “love” of money is the root of all evil. Money has become more “precious” to people because people have less of it to spend, the future of getting more of it or keeping it is in doubt, and to part with it, even if it is a good investment is overwhelmingly frightening. This has resulted in behaviors that are bizarre and unethical. For example, a real estate agent recently shared a story that a seller’s husband had died, the buyer wanted out of the contract, the last day of due diligence was on the day of the seller’s husbands funeral, the buyer wanted to escape the contract and insisted that this real estate agent bring the decline of contract to the wife on the day of the husband’s funeral, and wanted their earnest money returned! ON THE DAY OF THE HUSBAND’s FUNERAL! I wish I was making this up, but I am not it is a true story, and these stories are happening with regular occurrence. I know this is a wow, but if you are in the sales business you probably could share with me your own story (and please share them because I and others would love to hear them). So what do you do? Here a few tips that may help you with the “new buyer”.
Be brutally honest with them. Let them know in the very beginning that buyers are different. Set their expectations. Explain to them the new buyer. Tell them the stories. Help them to understand that the selling process today is more difficult, it may take longer. Understand that the seller is just as emotionally charged as the buyer. As much as the buyer does not want to part with their money the seller intensity of wanting their money is just as high. Prepare them, educate them, and be intentional about communicating with them regularly. You need to talk to them more than you have ever done in the past.
2. Prepare Your Buyer
If you are representing the buyer side then prepare them emotionally. Explain to them their own emotions. Help your buyer understand the process clearly. Again, you must be intentional about making sure from the time you introduce them to the product or service to the purchase or contract close what they will be experiencing emotionally in the process. As much as the seller representative must have consistent regular communication with the seller you must do the same from the buyer side.
3. Be Empathetic not Sympathetic
The best thing is for you as the salesperson to put yourself in the shoes of both the seller and the buyer and get your seller or buyer to do the same thing. Get yourself to see the transaction from both perspectives and help your client to do the same. While it may not completely solve the problem it will reduce the emotion. When we get sympathetic we get emotionally attached. When we do this, we only reinforce a person’s emotions. We basically have provided an open door to increase the intensity of an already highly intense emotional buyer or seller. This means you need to reduce your emotional verbal behavior by the words you choose, as well as the physical behavior you exhibit especially in a highly emotionally charged point of the transaction
4. Maintain a logical approach
Meeting emotion with an emotional approach only doubles the emotion. The last thing you need. Regardless of how emotional you feel the best way to counteract an already emotional situation is to meet it calmly with logic. Make sure everything you say and do has a logical conclusion for the buyer or the seller. You will help the logical process if you will take the time at the beginning to understand the logical reasons why to buy and sell versus the emotional reasons. Focus the buyer or seller back to their logic reasons for doing what they do. While it may not be 100% successful you will increase your percentage of time of keeping things together.
5. Focus on the Behavior NOT on the Person
When things are not the way we like them, our first tendency will be to label the person as “incompetent” or “emotional” or an “idiot” etc. Avoid talking about anyone in the process in these terms. It only emotionally charges the situation. Focus on the specific behavior in question. This is the classic example of the “Fundamental Attribution Error”. That is we will have a tendency to blame (attribute) a situation on an individuals personality characteristics rather than understanding how the environmental factors have influenced the behavior of the individual. Look at the environment, use logic, focus only on the behavior.
Buying and selling is always emotional it always has been. Today the intensity of those emotions have significantly increased. While you cannot completely eliminate emotions from the buying and selling process you do have the opportunity to help reduce them rather than being the catalyst that can elevate emotions to irrationality. You need to be a bit of a psychologist. You need to be intentional, be rational, be logical, be empathetic, and above all keep yourself under control in all circumstances. While that is easier said than done, the more you practice it the better you will get at it.
Jay Izso, Internet Doctor®