Transform emotions into prescriptions

February 1, 2000
Anne M. Bachrach

Pharmaceutical Representative

Establish the right mood with clients.

According to Aristotle, "No appeal to logic is ever as successful as an appeal to emotion." Understanding your clients' emotions – and knowing how they drive key decisions – is critical to building successful high-trust relationships.

Most accomplished sales professionals already know how great a role emotion plays in people's decisions. Although we'd like to think our clients are rational, thoughtful, intelligent people, the fact of the matter is that they are people first, clients second. And people are emotional, especially about money decisions.

This doesn't have to be a handicap. In fact, it's the foundation of values-based selling. Think about it: the values conversation really has only two goals: One is to help you and your client know what's important about success to them, the other is to put them in an emotional mood that establishes a meaningful relationship. It all starts with making the most of the first five minutes by planting the seeds of trust. With the values-based selling conversation, you begin by listening to prospects' values and what's most important and meaningful to them. That's how you create a positive emotional mood that sets the stage for a productive exchange – and ends in a commitment. This kind of conversation helps the client to know you are trustworthy and then take action.

As your relationship develops, there are many opportunities and one very important reason to continue to influence their emotions. The emotional environment positions you for success or failure in any interaction.

Do you know what it's like when you call someone and you can tell when they answer the phone that it's a bad time? The mood just isn't right, and if you force yourself to do a presentation anyway, even a client who would be receptive normally will shut you down.

On the other hand, do you know what it's like when you call and they're in a really good, positive mood? They will respond positively to pretty much anything you present to them, unless it's really wacky. What would happen if you could predictably create that positive mood?

The easiest way to immediately shift someone's emotions quickly and naturally is by asking questions.

First, decide what emotional mood you want to create. Do you want curiosity, excitement, concern or connection?

Now experience that emotion yourself. Get yourself in a good mood before you try to bring your clients there.

Next, think of a time or circumstance that might create that emotion for your client. Earlier in this article, by asking you about clients who are in bad or good moods, I helped you remember the feelings you had about it. By remembering that mood, you recreated that emotion for yourself. Your objective is to think of a good question that you can personalize for your client. Because you know your clients' values, these may be the ideal place to look first. Sports constitute another fertile area. Advertising can do it, too, and personal experience (yours or theirs) yields natural, conversational bridges to positive emotion.

Then, ask a question. Be sure it's a question you know for certain will elicit that positive emotion: "Fred, you play golf. Have you ever hit a hole-in-one, or almost hit one, or seen one? What was that like for you?" Asking your clients "How is the golf game/wife/family?" is much less effective; it's a perfunctory nicety, and you may either get a shallow response ("fine"), or it could backfire. Who knows how your client may really feel about any broad topic? Other effective questions are:

"Do you know what it's like when everything is going great, everything you do works and you can do no wrong?"

"Do you know what it's like when you go to the mailbox expecting bills and junk mail - and there is a check for you? How does that feel to get money in the mail?"

"Do you know what it's like when you're standing up on the tee box and you just have that picture in your mind of that perfect golf shot? And then it actually happens?"

Finally, be congruent! You need to be sincere. If you want to create excitement, be excited.

Whenever you have any interaction with prospects or clients, do an emotional mood check before you get started. When you understand how to change moods or emotions, you learn to recognize when it is not a good time. Just be sensitive and aware; never present anything until the emotional mood is right.

Your whole objective in influencing people's emotions is to create an enjoyable experience for them. PR

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