The Real Emotional Sell

What are the three key elements that any rep can leverage for a more compelling sell?



What do you think when you hear the phrase ‘emotional selling’? Do you think about what is being sold or the way it is being sold?

Over the years and countless interviews with HCPs, it has become very clear to me that the role a product plays in the selling story is just that – a role. Even when it has a lead role, what wins the audience over is something much less tangible. Nuances around the story, the angle, the personality of the sales rep and how the product is made uniquely pertinent to each HCP are far more powerful than the product itself.

Certainly, bringing the product to life in an emotive and compelling way is the foot-in-the-door. The last thing a sales rep wants is for an HCP to switch off before the conversation gets going. No matter how wonderful the product is, to make it stick, the story needs to be directly relevant to the customer.

Of course, on the surface, this process can seem to be a mystical art. I have heard tales from the coalface of how reps have engaged even the trickiest of customers by slowly bringing them along the journey to brand loyalty, largely via the building of personal trust and a friendly, positive relationship. Looking a little deeper, however, a more scientific framework is evident.

Certainly, personality is important, but there are three key elements that any rep can leverage for a more compelling sell. These elements are deeply rooted in behavioral science. They focus on the nature of the connection a rep has with a customer, how the product is framed with that customer, and how risk is reduced or mitigated. These three elements, when better understood, enable a plan to be formulated, current technique to be tweaked, and greater sales achieved.

Connect

Don’t underestimate the importance of the connection. Know who you are talking to and tailor your story to build a personal, and therefore, emotional link between you and your customer. Value and reward them for the time they are giving you. Leave them in no doubt why this product is relevant to them specifically and to their patients. A one-size-fits-all story will not achieve this level of personal engagement.

Simple, to-the-point clips in patients’ (and carers’) own words can be powerful and help contextualize the product. Note to marketers: detailing kit needs to support the dynamic conversation and the relationship the rep is working to develop. Think customer, not product.

Understandably many of my clients over the years have opted for a uni-voice sales story for their products. In reality, sales reps then tailor it on the spot using a combination of skill and instinct. The trouble with this approach is that it can be rather hit or miss. It certainly doesn’t arm sales teams with options or angles that could more consistently and effectively hook in a customer and maximize sales.

Frame the content

Contextualize your communication using the specific interests and needs of your customer. Plan for this ahead of time. Stay on the front foot and anticipate customer actions and reactions. Increasingly, reps are using interactive tablets and are able to move the conversation along with a whole host of stimuli at their fingertips. These stimuli, however, need to be very clear and easy to use, think‘elevator pitch’ scenario.

Time and time again I have heard HCPs saying how they wished schematics of modes of action were more simple; how the presentation of data is too complex for them to convey the actual benefits of a drug to their patient. How data is presented needs to be both visual and intuitive. The ‘so what’ must be obvious without detailed discussion.

Bringing patient perspectives and outcomes to life within the sales call is also very effective to demonstrate the true benefits of a product. Simple, to-the-point clips in patients’ (and carers’) own words can be powerful and help contextualize the product. Note to marketers: detailing kit needs to support the dynamic conversation and the relationship the rep is working to develop. Think customer, not product.

Reduce the risk, over time

Take it slow. Build trust. Risk seems less risky the more we know. Obviously, this isn’t always possible especially if sales territories are disparate and there are many HCPs to see. Multiple visits are ideal, but a lot can be achieved in a single conversation.  If you know you have a more conservative customer, you may want to build your story for them, crafting it carefully and providing reassurance throughout. For the time-poor customers, start with the key point that matters to them and aim for an emotional response: surprise and shock can work well in this context. Be considerate. Demanding lots of time all at once is rarely effective with this cohort; a series of short and snappy visits will build respect and trust.

Building long-term brand loyalty does not happen overnight. Sales conversations need to be deliberate, but patient. With every meaningful conversation, a deeper emotional connection is built, between the sales rep and the customer, between the customer and the brand.

Optimizing customer insight

Where to look for targeted insight on your customers? Insight from market research with HCPs is the ideal source. Effective segmentation and emotional insights hold critical angles that sales teams can work with to sell more effectively.

For this to happen, these insights must be cascaded to those on the front line. Sales reps play an integral part in brand success, and insights that can dramatically improve selling content and strategy need to be activated with their input. A strategy that embraces insight, marketing and sales personnel offers the best opportunity to maximize both execution and sales.


Dr Pamela Walker is the Head of Health and a Director at Incite


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