A big mistake both print and digital marketers make is they think that rational analysis by customers is how buying decisions are made. Big printing decisions are more often made by emotion as by logic. Information and facts can prove your case but emotions move the customer to action.
Appealing to emotions is especially important when selling printing. Psychologists and successful salespeople have known for a long time that customers need to be moved along through a sales process by managing their emotions. Printing is personal and appeals to the senses. It is the empathetic and perceptive sales pro who can appeal to the emotional part of the decision process. Often these emotions can be silent and not directly expressed.
Logic and Analysis is Not Enough
If information alone was enough to sell customers on print campaigns and programs, there would not be a need for direct salespeople. Companies spend large amounts of time and money training salespeople on technology, competition and cost justification. There is a lot to know and they are important elements of the sales process. But, this is not enough to guarantee success.
Common Emotions in the Buying Process
Here are five areas where powerful customer emotions commonly affect the sale. These include:
1. Fear and Uncertainty
Customers are often concerned about paying too much or that they will be criticized by their boss for choosing print over digital media. The uncertainty of a new product involving cross media or data driven solutions can be scary to decision makers.
Many times the customer does not come right out and just say they are afraid. Fear and uncertainty are powerful emotions that can get in the way of logic.
The key step in understanding and overcoming customer fear is sensing it. Offering sincere assurances, talking about personal experiences or sharing customer testimonials can help make the customer feel more comfortable with your proposed solution.
2. Past experiences
Many business decisions are clouded by a positive or negative experience that may have happened years ago. Even in sales situations that are not completely related, customers will often draw on past history as a frame of reference when making a buying decision.
Each situation needs to be dealt with uniquely. The customer may have had a performance problem with another print provider or had negative results from a past direct mail campaign. A simple statement such as, “I had a customer who had a similar experience as yours, and here is how we worked together to make a change for the better, “can diffuse a negative past experience.
Letting the customer know that you understand their concern and can offer a solution opens the door for an emotional connection.
3. Perceptions and assumptions
These are very difficult to overcome. For many customers perception is reality. Some customers may feel print is too expensive, or not environmentally green enough. These feelings may be based on some opinion or experience from the past and are often never formally stated.
Once identified, it is often not enough to address these deeply
seated perceptions with facts alone. A good question to open up
the customers is to ask, “Why do you feel that way?” Often, the
customer may be open to hearing your explanation.
It is frustrating to deal with a buyer who knows it all and has all the answers. Arguing and disagreeing with a big ego customer is pointless. Often no amount of facts or data can change their mind.
With these customers it is imperative to build a relationship and have them sense you are on their side. If this is done, customers will often open up and listen to a different viewpoint.
The behavior of others isn’t a reason to be immobilized. Using words and expressions of encouragement will help. For instance, you may say to an ego driven customer, “I clearly understand that you feel this W2P solution may be a major disruption to your organization; can we walk through the implementation plan and narrow down your concerns?”
Taking the time to let the customer know that you understand and empathize with their point of view will help the sale move forward.
5. Style and Behavior
Customers judge salespeople on a first impression. Some buyers will immediately process in their minds that they either don’t like you or do not feel comfortable with you. It is a good practice to ask friendly customers and coworkers to assess your style and approach. Sometimes even tenured reps can create negative feelings by how they act and react. Sloppiness, rude behavior and tardiness are knockouts.
Learning to adjust to different personality types and style quickly is a critical skill in sales. For example, a buyer who is a low reactor will not respond to you constantly talking or talking loud. Effective listening really helps bridge the gap with different or difficult personality types. Customers will do business with salespeople they like and feel comfortable with.
Customers already have deep impressions about the purpose and value of print. Today’s print customer spends a lot of time searching the Web for information that in the past was provided by salespeople. Most of what any customer needs can be found on the Web.
Customers are looking for a trusted advisor, not just a technical expert with a well-defined sales process. Printing salespeople must go beyond logic and learn to connect with common emotions that affect the buying decisions.
Joe Rickard is a training leader and consultant dedicated to the graphic communications and printing Industry. He is a printing industry expert and works with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales and operational effectiveness. Joe founded Intellective Solutions LLC (www.intellectives.com) to serve the printing market. Intellective Solutions Inc. provides consulting and training material and services. He can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow me on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was published October 1, 2014 in Quick Printing Magazine and MyPrintResource.com