How Understanding the Emotional State of Your Consumers Can Lead to Better Sales

Think about your last purchase…was it an emotional one? On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome Jeff Shore, founder of Shore Consulting, trainer, and author to discuss the emotional aspect of a purchase decision. Shore’s work has been featured by NBC News, Fox Small Business, Success Magazine, Inc., Entrepreneur, and a host of other leading publications.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thanks so much for taking the time out of your schedule.

Jeff Shore:
Thanks for the invite back. I think it’s got to be a fun conversation.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
It will. I agree. We’re all with this COVID-19, trying to hang on and at the same time shake it off, right? As you know, the president has come out and said, “Hey, we want to get back to business.” And I think all 50 states have reopened at some level. Different phases and what have you. So there’s a lot to talk about. What does that mean for businesses out there? What it mean for sales? Should we be out there knocking on doors and selling right now? And if we do, how is the sales process different in a COVID and a post-COVID world? So I know I just loaded up the plate there, but from your perspective, what’s your take on all of this?

Jeff Shore:
Well, if you look at sales as the opportunity to solve a problem, find a need and fill it. At just a fundamental level, that’s what we do in sales. We are problem solvers. And I think that the problems that many people carried into this pandemic didn’t get solved while they were sitting at home just trying to figure out how to get through it. I think the people still had problems that needed to be solved. But when you see massive change, what does it do? It caused us to get more immediately conservative or short-term conservative. It caused us to pull back a little bit and say, “Let me just see how all of this thing works out.” Well, guess what? The world did not stop spinning, life is going on, and oh, by the way, I still have a problem.

Jeff Shore:
So I’m pretty optimistic right now about what happens in the retail world as people come out of their shell. I’m even looking… It’s a silly little example, but right now, as we speak, at the time that we’re recording this, I’m supposed to be in Italy. Okay? And so my wife and I were going to go to Israel and Greece and Italy. It was a three-week trip. And suffice it to say, we’re going to spend a few dollars on that trip. And we didn’t do it. We obviously did not go. So I’m having a new driveway poured.

Jeff Shore:
Now look, it’s one of those things where pouring a new driveway, it’s an expensive proposition. Normally you might look at it and you go, “Do I have that kind of money?” But right now I just think I haven’t eaten out in over two months now. We didn’t go to Europe as we had planned. I mean, suddenly there is money that we have to spend. And unless you’re one of those people who lost their job, which is horrific. I don’t want to make light of that. But the overwhelming majority of people in the United States did not. They still have money to spend and they still have problems that need to be solved. So overall, I’m optimistic about what happens next.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. Sure. Talk to us about sales training. How does it differ? You’re a well-known sales trainer and travel the globe helping companies medium and big and small-sized companies with their sales training. Talk to us. How does training change in a post-COVID world?

Jeff Shore:
It’s interesting. Like all of us, we had to look at the way that we did business for the last number of decades and change, pivot in not months or even weeks, but literally in days. So we took all of our sales training online, revamped the entire thing almost overnight. And as it turns out, it’s gone really, really well. In fact, some of our clients have said, “Regardless of what happens for the rest of the year, let’s stay virtual. Let’s keep doing that.” So I do think that there is that opportunity. Technology is there to allow us to be able to do that sales training, and there are very specific changes in the sales process that need to be trained on. So you have a different world. You have a different customer. Your sales people, if you’re a sales manager, your sales people need that training.

Jeff Shore:
Now it might come from an outside source, but it also comes from sales coaching. And I do believe, and I’ve seen it happen firsthand, that sales coaches now are learning, “Hey, I don’t have to be shoulder-to-shoulder. I don’t have to be eaves dropping on an actual conversation. I can still coach my sales professional and give them the support that they need in a virtual environment.” Just like we’re doing right here. And it actually works very, very well. It’s highly efficient. And I think it’s going to be one of the great benefits coming out of this as we return to whatever this future normal is going to look like.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. We’ve spoken to a number of business owners that have looked at COVID-19 and the pandemic and what it’s meant to their businesses. And I got to tell you, there’s been quite a few that have reported back to us that said, “We think we’re going to look back in years to come, look back at these times with regard to our business and say this might have been the time that defined us, but at the same time, it was a time that really changed us for the better and in the sense that we’re more efficient, we’re better prepared. We came out. We pivoted where we needed to. And we came out as a stronger company overall. We also got some funds from the government that we didn’t plan on being able to obtain through normal financing in order to grow our business in a post-COVID world.” Have you found that to be the case, that it’s a huge opportunity right now for some companies?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And again, like you, I don’t want to make light of the very serious illnesses that are caused by COVID-19, in some cases, death, obviously. But for those companies that were not affected by that per se, they were affected by the closings, it seems as though it could be a turning point for them for the better.

Jeff Shore:
I think so. When you look at the experts over the last several years that have talked extensively and productively about the case for disruption, about creative disruption, how do you go along and disrupt your business? So when we think about [Gino Wickham 00:06:16] or Seth Godin or these people who are all in favor of the idea of maybe we need to just shake up the status quo a little bit, well, that’s exactly what the coronavirus did. It forced disruption. It forced change. Now, unfortunately, there are organizations, there are companies, small businesses that are going to survive. It’s a tragedy. But for of us who do, it is going to be that opportunity to say, “There are lessons that I can learn here that I could not have learned in any other way.” So if you’re a business owner, or if you’re an executive, or if you’re a frontline salesperson, doesn’t matter what level of the organization you’re at. You have to be asking, what does the future normal look like?

Jeff Shore:
We’ve got to be asking those questions right now. What is the best of what we’ve been handed that we can carry forward into the future? But then if we look at it through the customer’s viewpoint, that’s a complete game changer. One of the reasons that I’m optimistic right now is that customers have had a lot of time to stew in their dissatisfaction, to sit a car that they don’t love, a home that they don’t love, whatever it is. And now here they are feeling a little bit of safety, a little bit of security, and that dissatisfaction has risen. But what were they doing while they were stuck at home? You know what they were doing? Researching.

Jeff Shore:
Customers right now in this window of time are as smart as they will ever be. And they are this close to making a purchase decision before they walk through the door. We should absolutely expect to see that first visit sale opportunity almost every single time.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. We spoke to the president of cars.com and he reported that the searches for vehicles both new and used are up by almost 50%. People, to your point, they are home and they are researching different things to purchase. Some of them didn’t lose their income. And yet they got some fat checks from the government on a stimulus package. So as you know, consumers want to run out and spend that money on whatever it might be, TVs, cars, houses, you name it, and everything in between. How-

Jeff Shore:
And they didn’t go on the expensive vacation, and they haven’t been eating out. Their lifestyle has changed right now. And I think there is some discretionary income. The only thing that was missing was the freedom to spend it, was the freedom to go out. And now, as we’re seeing the green lights go on, I think you’re going to see a surge right here.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. We have seen a lot of sales in the last 10 weeks, three months I guess, move online where normally you’d make a call to somebody’s business or you’d pick up the phone or text message them or what have you. But a lot of the business now… I guess the first question is, can we do this online? Can you take a video of your product or send me something online about it? Can I pay for it that way? Can you ship it to me or have it delivered to my home? Car dealerships, for instance, are now delivering cars to people’s homes. The visit isn’t at the dealership anymore. It’s online. How does the sales training world adapt to an online sales process?

Jeff Shore:
Yeah. Well, that’s a great question. I think it’s one of the more important questions that comes out of everything that we have gone through right here when we look at consumer behavior and the way that buyers make purchase decisions. And the fact of the matter is that customers have been less willing to go out. They have been spending more time online. So those juices start to flow. It starts to build that promise of what my life could look like. So how do I do this differently?

Jeff Shore:
But here’s the good news. If you think about somebody walking into a car dealership, okay, and they’ve got their eyes on this brand new car. They walk into a dealership. Of course, it’s beautiful, it’s clean, it’s well-lit, and the lights in the ceiling are shining off the floor, and you see that car perfectly shine, perfectly waxed right there. And then here comes a sales professional who wants to chat with you. And I get that. That’s part of what we do. But what happens? There’s a distraction. Over the salesperson’s right shoulder is this beautiful car.

Jeff Shore:
Well, in the online environment, you don’t have that. And so what you have is a longer attention span for customers in a virtual environment than you have in a live environment. So if you think about attention as a currency… we talk about paying attention… there is more currency available to me to pay to you in that virtual setting than there is in a live setting. This is a huge opportunity if we can capture people, even before they walk through the door, to be able to do all of our discovery, then to be able to match them up with what works for them, all of this, then physically showing up, it’s almost a formality.

Jeff Shore:
If we can figure out how to carry that forward, we’re going to be in a great position. It tells me that the online lead will never be more important than it is right now. And when somebody clicks the button that says, “Send me information or have somebody call me,” they need a response like that. The emotional altitude is very, very high. They are extremely well-informed. That buyer is there for the taking to the first person who acts. So that online experience, if we can figure out how to carry that forward, everybody wins. Everybody wins. The customer, the salespeople, the company, everybody wins.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. People will even pay a little higher price as long as somebody is very attentative to their needs as quickly as possible. That’s just the world we live in now. Right?

Jeff Shore:
Let me just throw something out there real quick. We got a quarantine dog. My wife and I were like, “Are we going to get a dog? Are we not going to get a dog?” We had an 18-year-old dog pass last year. And we said, “Well, you know what? If we’re going to get stuck inside this home for the next foreseeable future, it’s probably a good time as ever.”

Jeff Shore:
We bought that dog completely online. It was a complete virtual process where the seller who sells a lot of dogs interviewed us, figured out exactly what we’re looking for, exactly the right dog that was right for our lifestyle, sent us customized videos of her walking the dog around. We negotiated the price. All of this was done before we actually saw the dog. The only question was, would the dog love me? That was the only question that we still had to answer. But it was done 100% virtually. It was seamless. And can I just suggest to you, it was phenomenal. As a consumer, loved every second of that experience, and we paid a lot more than we thought we were going to for that dog.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s fantastic. And you’re right. I mean, who would’ve thought that you’d be buying dogs online and-

Jeff Shore:
It’s an emotional purchase, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
It is.

Jeff Shore:
I mean, it’s the ultimate pet, the puppy. You’re supposed to hold the puppy. Not anymore. Not anymore.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
In fact, there’s clothes called the puppy dog clothes.

Jeff Shore:
There is.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Folks, take it home with you. See if you like it and try to give that puppy dog back right the next day. No way.

Jeff Shore:
Yeah. That’s right. Yeah. But we can do it virtually. And if it works with a dog, I have to believe that it’s going to work with just about anything.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. Let’s talk a little bit about sales training in these times. It’s very easy for companies to, as I say, make the mistake of cutting so deep on their expenses because they hit the panic button, maybe rightfully selling. “Cut everything. Cut everything we don’t need. If it’s not the rent and the electric, we don’t need it.” And during these times, that is a major mistake, isn’t it, for them to cut out sales training, for them to cut out marketing dollars? Cut back, maybe. But to cut out at a time that your company happens to need sales training like never before would be a huge mistake. Would you agree?

Jeff Shore:
Yeah. Well, listen. Obviously, I have a training company, so I know I’m biased here. But I would look at it and say, “Why do use sales train?” And there are… “Why do you use sales trainers? Why would you do that in the first place?” And the answer is because there is help that can be provided that we can’t fulfill internally. Right? That’s the only reason why it would make sense.

Jeff Shore:
So if you’re going to use an outside training company, that’s fine. You just have to make sure that they’re teaching you the skills that your salespeople will need going forward. And there are new skills that your salespeople need. And if you can’t figure that out, you got to be able to bring them in.

Jeff Shore:
But I think what you just asked is a mindset question. Is training an expense or is it an investment? If it’s an expense, as business people, we try and minimize it. But if it’s an investment, then we try and maximize it. You have to make that call. You have to be honest with yourself as to whether I think this is something that is going to cost profit or grow revenue. Because the last I checked, there is no bottom line unless you have a top line. And that investment in sales training goes into top line revenue. And that’s the way that has to be looked at. If you see it as expense, then yeah, you’re probably going to cut it. But watch out because there are new skills that your salespeople need that they probably have not yet developed for this new reality in front of us.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. Will the traditional born salesperson make it in this new digital world that we live in with online sales and things taking place online where you don’t have that personal interaction with your prospect? Will they be able to make the crossover and succeed?

Jeff Shore:
Yeah. I would suggest that it’s an and situation, that you can do both, that you can live in the virtual world and still have a tremendous connection with your sales professional and sales professional with their customer, because of exactly what we’re doing right here. Video communication allows that to happen. It’s one thing if everything is through a live chat or a text message. But if we’re actually using video communication, we could do just about everything that we could do interpersonally.

Jeff Shore:
Now there might be some things that the customer needs to experience with the product, but interpersonally, this can all take place right here. So yeah, I do think that if you are looking at it and saying, “I’m a face-to-face guy and I don’t want anything to do with that technology thing,” yeah, you’re probably going to have a short-lived career in sales. But it doesn’t mean that we have to step away from the very core of the relationships and the rapport and the connections that have always made us successful in the first place. I think formats like this make it so much easier. And now it’s normalizing. I mean, who hasn’t been on a Zoom call in the last 10 weeks or since the pandemic started? Everybody’s been on it. Everybody knows how this format works. So it’s comfortable. It’s only a question of whether it’s comfortable to the sales professional.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, no question about it. But get on it because if you don’t, to your point, the train’s going to pass you by, right?

Jeff Shore:
Well, there’s one of thought here and that is the next troop of sales professionals are going to be millennials, and we’re already seeing that happen. Well, guess what? They grew up in the video age. That’s what they know is video. So we can accept it or we can reject it at our own peril, but if you accept it now, you add the wisdom and experience over the years to the technology that’s available, you’re going to be unstoppable.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. No question about it. Talk to us a little bit about your business and the changes that it goes through through times like this. I mean, you’re a speaker and a trainer that’s in huge demand, and then you get hit with this, and it puts you on the sidelines. How do you and your staff pivot during times like this?

Jeff Shore:
Well, first of all, I’m really, really blessed to say it did not put us on the sidelines. We did not lose one client on all of our sales training. Everything moved online, and we very, very quickly rebuilt our program to be able to insert how do you sell virtually a series of discussions so that we’re providing real-time help to people who really need it a whole lot.

Jeff Shore:
The one part of the business that has slowed down is meetings. And so I do a lot of keynote speaking. And so that obviously has been set aside in the short run, though there are virtual presentations that are taking place. But what we’re looking at, every year I do a huge leadership summit, and it’s live in San Diego every year. Hundreds of sales executives from around the country. We can’t do that.

Jeff Shore:
So we’re taking that all into a livestream. It’s not going to be just a inflated Zoom call. I mean, there’ll be entertainment and breakout rooms and all kinds of really, really cool stuff. Brian Tracy will be on. We’ve got Dan Pink who’s going to be on, Jeff Blunt, just a number of titans in the sales industry. It’s going to be a lot of fun. But the overriding message is you have to reinvent. You can’t just sit around and say, “Oh, well, what are you going to do?” You have to reinvent. And that’s what we’re doing right now.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. When is the event?

Jeff Shore:
So that’s going to be July. Let me just check here real quick. I’m supposed to know this off the top of my head, right? My team knows. But it’s July 16th and 17th, and that’s jeffshore.com/summit, jeffshore.com/summit for information on signing up for that. Yeah.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
-and also below in the context below, you’ll be able to connect with that as well. Yeah. That sounds like quite an event you’re going to have there. And having gone through this… and I’m sure it’ll be a success like all of your events are… do you think that there’ll be a need to go back and do the live in person at a convention center?

Jeff Shore:
It’s a great question. And I think that when you look at virtual presentations versus sitting there live, there’s the question of the user experience. How do you keep people fully engaged? If you’re sitting in a room, you tend to be more engaged than if you sit a guy in your computer. And that’s one of the reasons why we’re designing the livestream summit to be very upbeat, snappy, quick, almost variety show in that approach of holding attention.

Jeff Shore:
And then the other thing is how do you keep people connected? Right? If you go to a conference, if you go to a seminar somewhere, you’re with other people. So you’re going to lose both of those things. And I do think that that means that we’re going to get that back. But in the short run, I do think virtual environments have their place. They are safe and they do give us the chance to be able to still get the message out there. Going forward, I think you’re going to see a blend. You’re going to see a whole lot more virtual stuff in the future. But our need to connect as human beings is so strong. The live events will be back. It’s just going to be at a time when there’s a safety, there’s a vaccine. There’s whatever’s going on that cause people to say, “Okay, it’s safe for me to do that.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. There’s no question about it. For small business owners and medium-size and even big business owners that are watching – I have this conversation right now. Don’t make the mistake of cutting out sales training. I’ve done that before as an entrepreneur and as a business owner. I’ve owned many businesses. And man, I just want to kick myself every time because it catches up with you later. These are the times that you really need to be sharpening the ax. Use this time wisely. Do not waste this crisis. And this is the time to keep sales training in there. Obviously, Jeff Shore is one of the top in the industry of sales training. That’s why we bring him on. We’re so fortunate to have him. But this is the time to sharpen the ax and get your people up to speed. They too are having a little bit of a difficult problem with this, and no better person than to have someone come in from the outside, or no better thing, I should say, to have somebody come in from the outside that can help your organization grow through these challenging times.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
But I can assure you, for those companies that do, they’re going to come out stronger than they went into this. And that begins with your sales department and with your sales staff if they’re trained and they’re motivated and they’re headed in the right direction. Obviously, Jeff Shore, as I mentioned, is one of the key people in that field. CEO of Shore Consulting, bestselling author, B2C sales expert, Jeff, I want to thank you so much for joining us here on The Atlanta Small Business Show. Our viewers get so much out of your visits here. So thank you so much.

Jeff Shore:
It’s always a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thanks.


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