The Importance of Emotionally-Intelligent Influencing
The role that emotions play in being truly customer centric is often underestimated. Whether you are supporting a large consumer electronics manufacturer who has decided to merge with a similarly sized competitor, or selling a new to market pharmaceutical drug, it is widely accepted that those who form the emotional connection, i.e. truly ‘Connect’ with customers, are most likely to succeed.
Undoubtedly the emotional link between you and the customer needs to be continuously nurtured. A lot can be learned from consumer marketing theory when developing an influencing strategy. Behind all the complex facts and figures about any product or service is a customer with a choice of brands that often have very similar profiles and product offerings. So how is the decision made to use one brand over another?
Gut instinct and habits are both contributing factors to selecting a brand, but ultimately it is emotion that drives brand choice, we cannot underestimate the emotional drivers behind this decision.
Through their review of 880 studies, advertising experts Binet and Field (2007) discovered how advertising campaigns that aim to drive an emotional response deliver the greatest return on investment. These are even more effective than those that are designed to drive both an emotional and rational response – the rational diluting the emotional connection. Once a product or service is linked with an emotion, the belief paradigm is hugely influential on customer behaviour, as cognitive load and timepressure encourages us to use those brands that come to mind more easily (unconscious bias).
What this means?
The emotional ‘sell’ is more critical than ever before. With a wealth of choice in most business areas, what will make a customer choose your offering over another? Rationally we often want to believe it is the data, the concept proposed etc. However, in reality this is just getting you through the door. To secure the customer buys into our ideas or our product, they need to connect with it on an emotional level, and in order to execute this, there are four main points you can leverage:
Aim to understand the stakeholder’s context and drivers – This requires a ‘pull’ rather than a ‘push’ approach. All too often subject matter experts are too keen to demonstrate their knowledge without realising that a few well-honed questions establish credibility and ensure engagement much more effectively.
Establish the gap between Current State (what they have and the pain it is causing) and the Desired State (What the ideal outcome is and what value/impact it will bring to them and their company)
Engaging a customer on an emotional level means that we can limit the need for a detailed discussion around facts and figures. These are hygiene factors in the majority of cases and unless ground-breaking will not have any significant impact.
Customers are humans driven by emotions, like the rest of us — Establishing trust through credibility and integrity, i.e. being focused on the prospect’s own agenda rather than our own, is of paramount importance.
In order to influence with integrity and authenticity there needs to be an awareness of, and alignment with, the deeper purpose (the WHY) and our values (the HOW) as to what we are ultimately delivering to the customer. This allows you to deliver the necessary messages congruently and authentically, with a clear call to action, resonating with its target audience.