95% of our decisions are based on emotions. What feelings do you evoke in your clients?

Most entrepreneurs believe that their clients and potential clients decide to do business with them according to a series of rational criteria: their experience, their expertise, and their past performance.

In fact, that’s what we often see on business websites, LinkedIn profiles or brochures boasting about “X years of experience”, or “a degree from Y university”, or something along the lines of “a rigorous 7-step approach”.

But, what are your clients really looking for?

The truth is that clients are often not as rational as we believe them to be. According to Gerald Zaltman, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, 95% of our purchasing decisions are based on subconscious, rather than rational, factors.

The first factor influencing purchasing behaviours and decision-making is emotion. Think back on the last purchases you’ve made. Why did you buy that product at that specific moment? Why that brand instead of another one?

If you take a moment to reflect on your decision process, you will no doubt discover that you were looking to feel a certain emotion: self-esteem, security, status… It’s this emotional experience that drove you to buy.

The same goes for your own clients—they are human, too!

Consider peace of mind. A financial plan, a medical exam and the help of a business strategist are all ways of achieving this desired state. There are many means to an end, but in all cases, it’s a quest for a particular emotion that leads us to take action.

Sell them what they want, give them what they need

I often say this, and it applies to everything from our everyday communications (newsletters, blogs, and social media), to your marketing materials (website, brochures), to the client experience you offer.

What does it mean? Sell your clients the emotion they are yearning for. No one wants a financial plan, a 7-step process or a strategy framework (…I know!!). What clients do want is peace of mind. A financial plan, the process, the framework are all “vehicles” to achieve this result.

What about rationality?

Though the brain makes decisions that are emotion-based, it needs to be able to justify these decisions by anchoring them in reason.

Have you ever regretted a purchase? Or returned a product only a few days after buying it? Chances are those decisions were entirely emotion-based, and the brain, unable to rationalize the decision, could only summon guilt. To avoid a guilty conscience, it’s vital to make sure the initial decision is rationally sound.

Once you understand what emotion your clients are seeking, you must effectively communicate your step-by-step plan that will deliver this result to your clients.

Your role is to bridge the gap between emotion and reason.

Take Action

Now it’s your turn to take action.

  1. Review your website, your brochure, your LinkedIn profile—any and all brand communications you have. Think back on the conversations you usually have with your clients and potential clients.

    What emotions do these communications generate in your clients?
    How do your clients describe feeling after working with you?

    If you asked a sample of clients to audit your website or sales page, what 3 words would they use to describe how it makes them feel? For example, is it all about you and your expertise or does it help them dream, see their aspirations realized? Your homework is to compare the emotions you currently evoke with the ones you ideally want to inspire.

  2. At every touchpoint in your business (e.g. from the first contact with your potential customer, to the time the service is rendered), make sure you’re continually inspiring the desired emotion in your clients in the way you show up for them.

You’ll be surprised at how often you’ll hear: “Yes!” After all, emotion in business pays off—big time—both for you and for your client who is actually achieving their dreams.

Sara Gilbert

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