It’s time to share the second half of the talk I wrote for Sales Center at Indiana State University. Last month, I spoke about the importance and value of emotions in the sales and negotiations process. This is part 2 of that talk. Part one defined what emotions and feelings are and explained how emotions impact sales and negotiations. Now it’s time to talk about a strategy to be aware of and manage emotions so they can have a seat at the table.
Indigo Ink: You, Your Client, and the Role of Emotions in the Sales Process (Part 2)
So, what’s the strategy?
You can learn to recognize and help manage emotions in the sales and negotiation process. Unrecognized emotions that play a role in the process can limit whether you close the sale, create value in a negotiation and maintain a relationship.
1. Be aware of and manage YOUR EMOTIONS,
2. Be aware of YOUR CLIENT’S EMOTIONS and
3. Adapt the way you CREATE AND DELIVER VALUE.
1. YOUR EMOTIONS
Be aware of the emotions you are feeling, understand why you feel that way and manage it. Awareness starts by being conscious and willing to admit an emotion is present. Name your emotion. Is there an emotion that’s influencing your performance in a negative way (such as being seen as overconfident or angry)? Tell yourself, “I am angry and I can see it is having an impact on my performance.” Or, “I am sad and it is having an impact on my decisions.”
Once you are aware of the emotion, ask yourself why you feel that way. There is a tool called the “5 Whys”, which was created by Toyota. Ask yourself “why?” five times to find the probable root cause of your emotion. Remember the road rage example?
- Why am I angry? Because I was cut off on the road.
- Why does being cut off on the road make me anger? Because I had to slam on my brakes.
- Why does slamming my brakes make me angry? Because I could’ve gotten into an accident.
- Why does getting into an accident make me angry? Because I could’ve gotten injured.
- Why does getting injured make me angry? Because I was afraid.
It was angry (based on) fear.
This tool does require that you are honest with yourself and push hard to go beyond the surface and find your primary emotions and motives. Once you know your emotion and why you feel that way you can manage it.
How to manage emotions in the sales process:
- Wait to react: Stop yourself and, if possible, ask to be excused. Take a few minutes to be aware of your emotions, do the “5 whys” and choose what to do about it. When you become more skilled, you may catch yourself feeling an emotion and then be able to manage yourself more quickly.
- Short-circuit negative feelings and replace your thoughts: If feeling negative emotions are hurting your performance, stop them. Mentally say “stop it” and replace them with positive thoughts: “I have been trained, I can do this sale.” “I have prepared, I can create value in this deal.”
- Short-circuit negative feelings and change your behavior: Again, any time you are feeling negative emotions stop them and change how you behave. “I am feeling anxious and it’s showing in me as being overly aggressive. I don’t have to question myself right now, but I can stop it and change how I behave.”
2. YOUR CLIENT’S EMOTIONS
This calls for not ignoring emotions and assuming they are not present. Just because you do not pick up on them or the person speaks in a very professional and calm manner it does not mean emotions are not present and influencing your client.
So we need to ask about emotions in our sales and negotiations: are there any emotions that I should be aware of? Are there any relevant personal goals or company goals that are eliciting emotions? And, just as we did when we were dealing with our emotions, ask why a few times. Where do they come from?
Ideally you do this in early stages of the sales process, such as during the needs identification stage, when pursuing new accounts or when conducting an initial assessment in a negotiation deal.
There is a story about a lady who did not want to sell her land so a new skyscraper could be built. The construction company, the developers, tried and tried to get her to sell. She always said no to all the benefits and advantages such as a large sum of money, moving to a less crowded area, moving to the beach. Did I say more money? She kept saying no. After months or trying, they finally sent a new person to talk to the lady. The person simply bothered to ask if there was any emotional value that had not been addressed and why. So the person asked: what do you feel for your house? She did not feel anything for the house. Is there anything else of emotional value attached to the property? Bingo. The lady said she was sad about leaving. The person asked: why? Because her cat, who had been her only companion for many years, was buried in the backyard and the tomb would be destroyed. She felt horrible about it and that is why she did not want to sell. The person then proposed to move the cat’s remains to a pet cemetery or to the new house where she moved, all paid for by the company. Her kitty’s remains were respected. The house was sold the next day.
Asking about your client’s emotions and where they come from can help you create value.
Do notice when addressing the client’s side, we do not say “manage” their emotions. We can’t. Be aware they are present and try to get to know where they are coming from. I say try because sometimes you may face a client who may say: I do not know. I know I am angry about whatever the situation is but can’t tell you why. At least now you know there is an emotion there that you should revisit and ask if they have thought more about it.
3. ADAPT THE WAY YOU CREATE AND DELIVER VALUE
By inviting emotions to “sit at the table,” you have a greater knowledge and thus are empowered to:
- Control and manage your performance: how you present information, how you control your emotions to support your performance.
- Sympathize without agreeing on your client’s emotions: state that you understand without agreeing. This means you feel compassion or sorrow. It does not mean you necessarily agree, so don’t signal agreement. Do not state you agree or that you approve or disapprove. You may have never gone through the events that led to another person’s emotions, yet you can sympathize.
- Create meaningful value: In a sale you may present a deal, in a negotiation we present solutions or alternatives. Make sure the actual solutions or options account for emotional value if there are any involved.
Remember, it’s about the client, you and emotions working together to create value. Just as Amani, the dog, helps Winspear, the Cheetah, to perform at its best.
Read more from Dr. Laura Muñoz here.
Indigo is a color that is formed by mixing other colors. I see business and its issues in the same way; businesses are formed by issues that can be seen from several perspectives and thus, it is important to recognize those components as more than just black and white.
Indigo Ink is a collection of articles on Marketing, Sales, Entrepreneurship and Exchanging Ideas from Dr. Laura Muñoz.
Muñoz is an Associate Professor of Marketing with the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. She received her Ph.D. in Marketing and International Business from the University of Texas – Pan American (now the University of Texas of the Rio Grande). Her main research interests are in professional selling and on those topics that emerge from the intersection between marketing and entrepreneurship. Her research has been published in leading journals such as the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, Marketing Management Journal, Marketing Education Review, and the Journal of Business & Entrepreneurship.