People Buy on Emotion


You’ve probably heard it a few dozen times: people buy on emotion far more than logic or reason.  Yet, if truth be told, most salespeople pay little heed to this axiom of the selling profession.  They go right on their merrily way offering their prospects every logical reason they can come up with to buy, instead of going for the emotional jugular.

A man walks into an automobile dealership, parks himself in front of a convertible, and checks out the MSRP sticker.  Inevitably a salesperson approaches, initiates a conversation, and starts talking about the car.  “She’s a real beauty, isn’t she?” he asks rhetorically.  “Let me tell you about this baby; “she’ll…”  He tells the prospect all about the car—how wonderful it is, how powerful it is, how happy and satisfied are all his customers who are driving it.  To use the legendary Zig Ziglar’s famous quote—“Sell the sizzle, not the steak”—this salesperson ignores the sizzle and goes right to the steak.  If I were offered a wager, I’d bet this salesperson is among the 80% who only do 20% of the business; most salespeople who sell using logic and reason fall into this unenviable statistical category.

A master salesperson always begins the sales process by trying to discover the emotional buying trigger of the prospect; it matters not what the product or service is.  He’ll ask a series of probing questions to gain as much information as he possibly can; to dig deep under the surface; to mine that nugget of emotional gold which will pierce the heart of the prospect.  As an exercise, write out a series of explorative questions, pertinent to your business, which will form the pathway to discovering what makes your prospect(s) tick, what his emotional soft spot is, what will “sizzle” for him.  You do not even think of beginning to sell the product or service until you have ascertained this vital information.  For example, we query our car buyer and eventually discover he detests his next-door-neighbor, who just happens to drive a red Toyota convertible. And he’s been dreaming for two years now of pulling into his driveway with a convertible of his own—a more expensive, flashier model.  We could talk about the features of the car, all its wonderful attributes, until we’re blue in the face, but that will have little impact compared to painting a word-picture of him pulling into his driveway behind the wheel of his magnificent new convertible, while the neighbor is cutting the grass, of course, jaw hanging open in shock.  We’re not selling him a car, we’re fulfilling his dream.  We’re going for his emotional jugular.  Logically, it’s rather ridiculous, isn’t it?  But emotionally—ah, emotionally—the picture of pulling up in his new convertible in front of the neighbor he despises is simply irresistible.  He’ll move heaven and earth and a few dozen stars to make it a reality.  Mr. Ziglar was right: sell the “sizzle”; the “steak,” the product or service, is secondary.