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How to build stronger connections with emotional selling

Emotional Selling
Topics
What is emotional selling?
Why use emotional selling techniques?
6 buyer emotions to tap into when selling
6 emotional selling tactics to win more business
Final thoughts

Accounting for buyers’ emotions in your sales strategy instantly puts you ahead of less thoughtful competitors. It strengthens connections, making your business more efficient, resilient and profitable.

In this article, you’ll learn the art of emotional sales from the ground up.

We’ll explain emotional selling, why it’s beneficial and how to connect with customers on an emotional level. You’ll also get emotional selling examples to inspire your sales efforts.


What is emotional selling?

Emotional selling is when you understand and leverage buyers’ emotions to tailor your sales approach, close deals and increase sales performance.

The aim is to create emotional connections with buyers, making them feel understood, valued and ready to buy – whether it’s their first or tenth purchase.

Where traditional selling highlights the product’s features, emotional selling focuses on the customer over the product. Rather than presenting customers with a list of features, this customer-centric approach uses a customer’s motivations to drive their messaging.

Emotional selling recognizes that people often make buying decisions based on feelings and then justify those decisions with logic. This theory is based on psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s research, as described in his bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow.

For example, this GitHub explainer video capitalizes on users’ desires and shows them what their success could look like (often referred to as painting a “paradise” picture).

The video begins by saying that GitHub is the largest developer platform in the world and then describes how it has transformed enterprises and launched startups.

It explains what viewers can do with GitHub through example stories that resonate with them and help them see what their life could be like after using the platform:

Now that you know what GitHub is, you might be wondering who GitHub is. It’s a student learning to code. It’s disruptors, revolutionizing music. It’s a CEO transforming a global company. It’s 21,000 strangers working together to take a picture of a black hole.


The GitHub video leverages the viewer’s excitement at the possibility of experiencing success like the users in the video. Excitement is a key emotion often tapped into with emotional selling.

Other customer emotions that often affect buying decisions include happiness, fear, doubt and trust. We’ll cover these and more shortly. First, let’s explore why you should use emotional selling techniques.

Note: Emotional selling relates closely to sales EQ (emotional intelligence in sales), which is the ability to recognize, understand and manage your emotions and those of others. Tuning into buyers’ emotions means building connections faster and creating more persuasive sales experiences.


Why use emotional selling techniques?

Understanding and leveraging emotions adds an incredibly valuable layer to your sales skills. It’ll equip you to connect with customers faster, keep them coming back and become a top performer on your team.

Here are emotional selling’s key benefits in more detail.

Build emotional loyalty that lasts

Emotional loyalty is the deep, personal affection a customer feels toward a brand they buy from. Positive experiences and emotional engagement usually drive it. Emotional selling is the first step toward that connection.

It’s about helping people love what you do or feel like they need your product so they don’t consider switching to a competitor.

Simon Jeffs, principal marketing strategist at Marigold, explains the difference between emotional and traditional loyalty in this DMA article:

Traditional loyalty is normally focussed on keeping customers coming back through discount codes, vouchers and early access to launches and so on. A lot of the time it might just be where a brand fits in with a basic need, such as being the nearest or cheapest petrol station. This traditional loyalty is still something brands need to be good at. But if they step it up to the next level, and form really meaningful connections with consumers, that’s when you start to build emotional loyalty.


For example, the clothing brand Passenger leverages buyers’ feelings of responsibility and altruism to achieve lasting customer loyalty. Its followers will seek out Passenger products and likely be ready to pay more for them.

Emotional selling: How to leverage buyer’s emotions to achieve customer loyalty


In contrast, Wal-Mart keeps customers returning using cost and convenience (traditional loyalty). As a result, its connections are much easier to break.

For example, a traditionally loyal customer who relocates could easily switch to a more convenient competitor. An emotionally loyal customer – perhaps one who resonates with the company’s ethics – would be more likely to seek out delivery options or be willing to travel further.

Directly influence decision-making to increase conversions

Tapping into people’s emotions helps speed up buying decisions, allowing you to close more deals and build profitable relationships faster.

It’s down to how much conscious control humans have over their decisions.

According to Harvard Business School Professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of purchasing decision-making occurs in the subconscious mind. In other words, buyers act on their emotions even when they think they’re using logic and catering to that gives you an advantage over other salespeople.

Imagine two B2B sales professionals competing for the same deal.

One offers heavy discounts but doesn’t account for the lead’s fear of making a poor decision and upsetting their manager, so they don’t provide any reassurance.

The other recognizes the buyer’s fear and reassures them by citing client case studies and testimonials. As a result, they gain enough trust to close the deal.

Gain a competitive advantage by creating memorable moments

Basic needs like cost and convenience matter, but when you address emotional ones too, you create more memorable moments that keep your business in customers’ minds.

After all, memories attached to emotions last longer than other, less emotional experiences.

Emotional experiences like this also set you apart from less thoughtful competitors.

For example, in this Pipedrive review, the user explains how they signed up for Pipedrive after experiencing frustration with “several other CRMs”.

Emotional selling: How Pipedrive addresses customers’ pain points


The user also says they’re “very satisfied with Pipedrive”, so they’re unlikely to switch to another sales management tool. Pipedrive actively addresses buyers’ pain points to foster happiness, another powerful emotion when selling.

6 buyer emotions to tap into when selling

Your ideal customers will have many emotional responses during brand interactions.

Researching and understanding the following six emotions will help you tailor your approach effectively.

Happiness

Happy people are more open to new ideas and opportunities, which means they typically spend more than unhappy people

Highlighting positive outcomes and success stories can amplify these feelings, making buyers more receptive to your sales pitches.

Happy customers are also less likely to churn, so excellent after-sales service is vital.
Fear

Fear is a strong motivator in sales. When you address potential risks and pitch your product as a solution, you can alleviate buyers’ concerns and increase their likelihood of conversion.

For example, if a potential customer fears missing out on industry trends, you can position your product as a way to stay ahead.

Excitement

Showcasing your solution’s innovative and unique aspects excites people and shows how it could improve their lives.

For example, selling a narrative where your target audience achieves their desired outcome can create a sense of anticipation and eagerness to buy.

Doubt

Addressing doubts directly can build trust. If buyers feel unsure about your product, providing clear, honest information and testimonials can ease their concerns.

Such transparency helps convert skeptics into believers, opening the door for long-term relationships.

Frustration

Offering solutions to common frustrations can be very persuasive.

If a buyer is frustrated with their current solution, showing how your product simplifies or improves their experience can be compelling. It’s why so many people switch brand allegiances due to negative customer experiences.

Trust

Once buyers trust you, they’re more likely to purchase and become long-term customers. Getting over that initial hurdle, which can be challenging, involves consistent, honest communication and delivering on promises.



6 emotional selling tactics to win more business

Understanding which emotions drive sales and loyalty is one thing. You also need to know how to leverage those feelings effectively.

Here are six simple tactics and techniques all business owners and sales teams can use to sell more, strengthen customer relationships and increase referrals.

1. Tap into happiness: provide thoughtful after-sales to increase ROI

Customers want genuine care from the brands they invest in, even after their purchases are complete.

Gladly found that 72% of buyers are willing to spend more with brands that provide great customer experiences.

In the same survey, 59% of respondents said they’d recommend a brand to a friend because of its customer service.

Emotional selling: How great customer experiences positively impacts revenue


Meeting that demand with thoughtful after-sales services is an effective way to increase customers’ happiness. It makes them more likely to buy again and recommend your business to others.

For example, Pipedrive’s support team works around the clock to ensure users get consistent value from their subscriptions. It makes them more likely to stay loyal and recommend the product to their peers.

Help your customers maximize their return on investment (ROI) with the following after-sales services:

  • Tailored follow-up emails. Check-in post-purchase, offering to answer questions about your product.

  • Customer support channels. Make sure it’s easy for customers to contact support staff and get help when needed, such as through email, chatbots, live chat and forums.

  • Personalized recommendations. Suggest other relevant products that will help customers achieve their goals.

2. Tap into fear: use urgency in promotions

Leverage buyers’ fear of missing out (FOMO) with urgency in your sales pitches and promotions. It’ll drive them to make quicker decisions, shortening your sales cycle.

FOMO in sales relates to regret aversion, which is when someone decides to avoid regretting an alternative decision in the future. For example, a customer may buy your item at a reduced price to avoid paying full price later.

Lots of brands use fear as an emotional selling strategy.

Marketers use countdown timers and limited-time promotions as emotional triggers, like in this email from Barnes & Noble that uses the line “time is ticking”:

Emotional selling: using FOMO as an emotional trigger to drive sales


Meanwhile, salespeople can emphasize limited availability, exclusive offers or upcoming price increases. They can also highlight the potential loss of benefits or opportunities from delaying a purchase, like the increased risk of taking too long to sign up for a cybersecurity product.

It’s vital to be honest when using fear to sell (a practice called thoughtful urgency).

Feigning urgency to increase sales, such as repeatedly extending “limited-time” deals, could make customers feel tricked or cheated, damaging your reputation.

Honest ways you can use urgency to drive sales include:

  • Email drip campaigns. Send drip marketing emails to remind customers about an impending event or promotion deadline.

  • Countdown banners. Add timers to your website or social media posts that count down to your next important event.

  • Reminder pop-ups. Show website pop-ups to highlight limited-time deals and discounts to browsing shoppers.

3. Tap into excitement: build up to company announcements and events

Building anticipation around new products, features or events creates a buzz that keeps your audience engaged and eager to buy.

Share exclusive previews to get people thinking about what’s to come.

Whether you use a passing mention in a sales conversation or a full-blown email campaign, aim to paint a picture of the better future you’ll provide.

Asana does a great job with this marketing email:

Emotional selling: How to build anticipation to get buyers excited about a product


The brand teases key parts of its impending update without giving too much away, leaving recipients wanting to know more. It builds excitement to increase product adoption and customer retention rather than new sales.

Other ways you can build anticipation around an announcement include:

  • Mysterious sneak-peeks. Hint at the exciting news to come without giving many details to intrigue your followers.

  • A series of previews. Drip-feed details about the event or launch with smaller announcements via social media, video and website content.

  • “Exclusive” previews. Use sales conversations to let a small number of prospects know about your upcoming event, fostering a sense of exclusivity.

4. Tap into doubt: practice overcoming common objections

Buyers express doubt when they’re looking for reassurance. Instead of treating that doubt as a problem, see it as a natural buying emotion you must respond to.

The better you are at spotting doubt and overcoming sales objections, the easier it’ll be to win trust and close deals.

It always helps to put yourself in your customer’s position.

For example, a B2B software buyer will scrutinize every detail of a potential solution to ensure they deliver value for their boss. In doing so, they’re bound to find something to doubt.

As a salesperson, you must reassure that buyer until they’re confident enough to purchase.

If the doubt is around pricing, emphasize long-term cost savings. If the prospect worries about disruption, highlight your smooth onboarding and around-the-clock support.

Case studies provide comforting social proof.

For example, this case study shows how Pipedrive helped Motor Mart increase revenue by 25%:

Emotional selling: How Pipedrive uses case studies to provide social proof


It helps potential new customers recognize the long-term benefits of signing up for Pipedrive.

Focus your reassurance efforts on individual customers’ jobs to be done (JTBD). Consider what they’ll use your product for and help them envisage the outcome.

For example, in the Pipedrive case study above, Motor Mart wanted to manage its customer conversations via WhatsApp. As a result, it experienced reduced average response time and increased efficiency and revenue.

Another prospect in Motor Mart’s industry could see this story and feel confident about achieving similar results.

Here are three ways to get better at overcoming prospects’ doubts:

  • Practice active listening. Listen carefully throughout your sales conversations to uncover less apparent concerns, as these may quietly hold your prospects back.

  • Collect a library of social proof. Having an industry-diverse range of case studies, reviews and testimonials to hand will help you convince different types of buyers.

  • Offer guarantees. When you can, offering them guarantees (e.g., money-back promises) eliminates the risk for the buyer, easing their doubts.

5. Tap into frustration: capitalize on your competitors’ shortcomings

Every time one of your competitors frustrates a customer, it’s a chance for you to win that person’s business.

First, identify other brands’ shortcomings by reading user and media reviews and scouring their mentions on social media. Learn what frustrates their followers the most and use it to inspire content that emphasizes how your product or service excels.

For example, you could use a third-party reviews platform (e.g., Trustpilot or G2) to view your competitor’s critical reviews and look for common themes.

If you learn that another brand has a reputation for poor customer service, you could highlight your superior customer support options in blog and testimonial content.

In sales conversations, practice active listening to learn how other companies have disappointed prospects. Then, tailor your pitch to reassure them of a better experience with your product or service.

For example, if a buyer finds your competitor’s product challenging to use, offer a sales demo to show how intuitive your alternative is.

Here are three ways to fill gaps left by your competitors:

  • Survey new customers. Ask buyers why they left their previous brand and switched to yours. If it’s because of something you do better, emphasize that to other prospects.

  • Set up brand alerts. Use a social media monitoring tool to track how people talk about your competitors – you’ll soon notice if the same negative themes keep appearing.

  • Conduct competitive analysis. Learn about other brands’ products, business models and marketing strategies to find new opportunities to target unmet needs.

6. Tap into trust: always put your relationship first

Trust is the most valuable of all your prospects’ emotions as it makes people comfortable buying from your brand and more willing to forge long-term (i.e., more profitable) relationships.

In a PwC survey, 93% of business executives agreed that building and maintaining trust improves their bottom lines.

Emotional selling: How building and maintaining trust improves the bottom line


However, the same study found that only 30% of customers “highly trust” companies, which means you can quickly outperform your competitors if you boost your emotional appeal.

Earning trust is nuanced, but the following three foundations will undoubtedly help:

  • Be honest. Give sincere recommendations instead of solely pushing for sales. A customer who trusts your expertise for years is far more valuable than one who makes a purchase they later regret.

  • Deliver on promises. Consistently meet (or surpass) customer expectations by delivering solutions as advertised and fixing issues quickly. Great, reliable customer experiences can quickly turn into positive word of mouth.

  • Stay transparent. Be open about delivery times, delays and support availability so customers know what to expect. Otherwise, you risk frustrating them into looking elsewhere. Own your errors, too, as deflecting blame will only hurt your relationship.

Make trust a continuous theme of your sales process. Relationship selling, when you carry out certain sales activities to build personal connections with buyers, will help. The aim is to become a trusted consultant rather than striving only to close deals.

Ultimately, if you do relationship selling well, sales will follow.

Final thoughts

Knowing how to leverage people’s emotions is like a superpower in sales. It equips you to navigate difficult conversations, tailor recommendations and speed up buying decisions.

Start building your emotional intelligence (or sales EQ) by becoming more aware of how your prospects feel at different customer journey stages. Then, tailor your tactics accordingly with help from the advice in this guide.

You’ll soon notice customers reacting more positively to your pitches and purchasing with confidence.

Driving business growth