The driveway could barely fit one car, let alone two! The living room was outdated. But when I walked into the kitchen, I could see into the backyard, where countless trees swayed in the springtime breeze. I was immediately brought back to my childhood when my neighborhood friends and I played beneath the woods, pretending that Frankenstein was buried in the ditch full of leaves .
I was sold! Not only did I want that house, I bought it! But why? Was it the trees? The backyard? The beautiful kitchen window?
It wasn’t any of these things. Rather, it was the feeling of nostalgia that they collectively evoked. Research indicates that the biggest factor in a buying decision is the emotional response (“the fairytale”) a product generates.
Using my own example, I felt happiness while subconsciously believing that buying that particular house would prolong my euphoric emotion. Similarly, your clients may rationalize their decision to buy based on data, but they decide to buy based on feelings. Many studies prove that if you fail to address the importance of emotional decision-making, you’ll lose a large proportion of your potential clients.
As you probably already know, an emotional response is triggered when people imagine themselves enjoying the benefits of what you offer. However, there is also the emotional response when people believe buying something will make them happy.
Clients will buy when they feel comfortable, when you have established rapport with them, when they feel they can trust you, when the process feels natural and reassuring. Therefore, you must persistently convey that you understand their emotional needs as well as their material ones. Facts alone will not convince customers to go with your company — it’s their emotional response.
This column is intended to help you tap into the power of those emotions and maximize your sales and profits!
The Seven Universal Emotions
Since the 1960s, the University of California’s Dr. Paul Ekman has studied emotional expressions in dozens of cultures throughout the world. He found that different cultures universally recognized certain facial features; for example, people from across the globe all recognized smiling as a sign of happiness. He went on to identify seven basic universal emotions: happiness, sadness, disgust, contempt, anger, fear and surprise.
In business, especially in sales, identifying someone’s basic emotions will help determine how others feel about you and your product. For example, if you can recognize that a client is feeling troubled or sad, you are then empowered to respond to their sadness. If we can identify people’s emotions early on, we can better manage our own emotional responses to theirs.
People who are looking to spend thousands of dollars often don’t translate their emotions into words or full facial expressions. Rather, you will usually see only subtle traces of these emotions on their faces; it’s called a “micro-expression.” With a little practice, you can begin to accurately identify subtle emotions and respond to them in a way that is advantageous to your sales goals.
Let’s review the seven universal facial expressions and their matching emotions (see Figure 1).
What To Do When You Spot an Emotion
According to Ekman, emotions don’t reveal their cause — only that the emotion is occurring. Suppose you see that a client is upset. You cannot know why the client is upset; however, the way to find out is by asking questions. And be careful not to use the actual emotional word as a statement of fact, i.e., “I can see you are angry,” or “It’s obvious that you are disgusted.”
Below are statements to help you acknowledge when something is not sitting right with your client, as well as a few follow-up questions to help you find out what’s at the root of the matter.
“Maybe I am wrong, but I sense that you are disappointed about something. Can we talk about that?”
“I just had the sense a moment ago that there were a few things flashing through your mind. If there are some concerns you have, it would be really helpful if you could share them with me.”
If you deliver the above statements and requests with sincerity and positive intent, your clients will tell you exactly what they are experiencing. And you’ll have a better basis for moving forward in your discussions.
Many businesses are fighting for your potential clients’ attention — many products and services, many competitors, numerous messages. However, being able to read and address your potential clients’ unspoken concerns will give you a distinct advantage over your competitors. By effectively guiding them to a buying decision that feels right for them, you will send the message, “We are the company you can trust!”
In turn, mastering the art of reading people’s emotional cues will dramatically boost your sales and profits.
Now have fun and go get ’em!
New York Times bestselling author and body-language expert Janine Driver spent more than 16 years as a federal law enforcement officer within the U.S. Department of Justice. She now shares her people-reading skills in a fun, engaging and memorable way. Visit her website, www.janinedriver.com, for more information.