At the Sales Counter: Focus on Feelings Supported by Facts

As a kid growing up in Wilmington, Del., I played Little League Baseball. My neighbor, Nat Shockley, the barber, sponsored my team, the Delpark Colts.

I loved baseball, playing it and watching it. As you might imagine, I was a Philadelphia Phillies fan. My whole family was fans. My parents, my aunts and uncles, my grandfather, my friends and neighbors, we loved baseball. After supper in the evenings, during baseball season, you could always hear the game on the radio in the background as we would ride bikes or play catch or finish homework.

I had great feelings for the Phillies; winning was fun and losing was heartache. I hadn’t yet learned that most MLB teams lose a lot of games during the season. As a kid, I followed the numbers, the facts, if you will. I followed the batting averages and RBIs and the ERAs. Today, I don’t remember the facts, but I certainly remember the feelings.

I also remember that in my early days in the tire and auto repair business, a boss told me that customers will soon forget how much they paid, but will certainly remember how they were treated.
A lot about our business is numbers, the facts. Tires are all about numbers. Sizes are basically numbers: 35x12.50R20, 225/65R17. Uniform Tire Quality Gradings (UTQGs) start with numbers, such as 400 A-A. Mileage warranties, such as 55,000, are numbers. Of course, tire prices are all numbers, along with installation charges — more numbers. I think you would agree that several weeks after buying tires, most customers would not be able to recite the numbers related to their tire purchase, but could explain how they felt or how they were treated.

There is no way to get around the numbers, but there are ways to enhance feelings over facts. When dealing with the numbers, it’s important to consider feelings. All customers have feelings; some are harder to read and, yes, some customers can be harsh, but we must consider how customers balance the facts and the feelings. Today, we hear a lot about the importance of customer experience and how it affects repeat business and reviews.

• Facts are transactional.

• Feelings are relational.

• Focus is essential.

The true professional sales person focuses on both facts and feelings, with the emphasis on feelings. Why? Because feelings matter more than facts. As we have discussed in past articles, making a buying decision is driven by emotion, feelings. The numbers or facts simply support the sale, and feelings make the sale.

Let me give you a few simple examples of mixing facts and feelings in a presentation. Many of today’s tires come with a limited mileage warranty supported by the tire manufacturer. Every customer can understand the difference between a 50,000-mile and 60,000-mile rated tire. These are simple facts when you say to a customer that the difference in price is only $20 and the difference is about additional years driving for only $20. Though this is a fact, it sounds like a great deal, an additional year for $20. Most customers will feel good about the added mileage for a few extra dollars.

Listen to the difference from a customer’s standpoint between these two, near identical presentations. The first one presents the facts, and the next wraps the facts in feelings. The difference may sound like this to a customer:

• “I have two great choices for your Accord. I have 50,000-mile rated tires for $100 each, or 60,000-mile rated tires for $120 each.”

• “I have two great choices for your Accord. I have 50,000-mile rated tires for $100 each, or 60,000-mile rated tires for $120 each. Most people drive about 12,000 miles a year (pause) ... so the $100 tire should last about four years and the $120 tire about five years (pause) ... an additional year for $20.”

Lead with the facts and close with the feelings! Notice the difference? The additional two short sentences take about 12 to 16 seconds to say. May I suggest that greater customer trust and satisfaction takes 15 seconds?

It’s lazy and dangerous to simply quote facts. Customers can get facts from the internet.

It’s been about 52 years since my dad took me to my first baseball game at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. I remember when I first saw the grass under the lights during batting practice, it was vibrant. Today and every ball game since, I get emotional at the first glimpse of the grass. I miss my dad, but I’m very thankful.

Feelings are powerful things; facts, not so much.

Focus on feelings supported by facts.    ■

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at

To read more Counter Intelligence columns, click:

The Sales Counter Moved Again: And the Sales Floor is Now on the Smartphone

The Changing Language of the Marketplace

'Better' Pays Dividends: You Better Be Better Onbline and In Your Store

Influence: How to Use Your Power for the Good of the Customer

Building Trust Through Engagement Skills

Related Topics: Counter Intelligence, sales and marketing, Wayne Williams

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