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Winning Over Hearts: The Power of Emotional Selling

I’m a big fan of Star Trek, The Original Series (TOS), not the spin-offs.

You may remember the principal characters, Captain James T. Kirk and half- human/half-Vulcan science officer Spock.

What makes that duo so arresting is that Kirk was the emotional, passionate, 

impulsive leader. Spock was just the opposite: logical, data driven, reserved, just the facts.

They made a great team.

It took a long time for me to learn, when it comes to persuasion, Kirk is usually most effective. I tried to be logical, fact based and prove my point with overwhelming evidence. I was sure I was right – and (to be honest) most times I was – but being right doesn’t mean you’re winning the discussion or closing the sale.

Studies have consistently shown that emotions have a significant impact on decision-making. People often make purchasing decisions based on their emotions, rather than solely relying on rational considerations. 

“Humans are not either thinking machines or feeling machines, but rather feeling machines that think.” – USC neuroscientist Antoni Damasio.

Here are a few considerations for your real world application.

  1. What is my natural tendency? To be a Spock and load up the fact wagon and dump it on the guest so fast they don’t know what hit them? Or to be a Kirk and passionately convey your feelings, and other’s feelings, about an interaction?
  2. Who is my guest? It could be that some guests are primarily interested in the technical features of what you’re selling. It could also be that they’re most interested in how this makes them feel. You need to assess this – and fast.
  3. How many compelling stories do you have in your toolbox? There are three simple, effective types of stories.
    • Personal Stories: This is where you start. If you’re selling a mattress there is no statement more powerful than, “this is the one I sleep on, and here’s how it makes me feel.” A friend of mine was buying a set of golf clubs for his wife and the salesperson said, “this is the set I bought my wife and she loves them.” Sold.
    • Stories about other people: I heard a story many years ago and it has stuck with me to this day – proof of the power of stories. I was sitting on an airplane before it took off and the young lady in the row in front of me stood up and started counting rows. I had to ask, “why are you doing that?” She launched into a harrowing story about when her grandmother was a young person, the theater in which she was sitting caught fire. Because she made note of the exits before she entered the building she knew exactly where to go. Most of the people perished in the fire. So, she said, “I always want to know where the exits are.” Guess what? After that story, to this day, I do too.
    • Stories about brand success: Seth Godin tells the story about Silk soymilk. “Silk. Put a product that does not need to be in the refrigerated section next to the milk in the refrigerated section. Sales tripled. Why? Milk, milk, milk, milk, milk – not milk. For people who were there and looking at that section, it was remarkable. They didn’t triple their sales with advertising; they tripled it by doing something remarkable.” (Talk Like Ted)

What is your brand success story?

  1. Use emotional words. “I am inspired.” “I feel confident”. “It was one of the happiest days in my life.” “It really angered me.” Being transparent about your own emotions is a sure way to give your guest permission to do the same. Utilize vivid and evocative language, metaphors, similes, and powerful imagery to paint an emotional landscape.
  2. Utilize humor and laughter. If you didn’t read the ‘Building Bonds with Laughter’ article last read click here.

I’d like to think after all these years I’m a bit more like Captain Kirk most of the time – at least when I need to be.

You can too.

Live long and prosper.

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