Will we soon be looking back and saying “remember selling? You know… when we used to actually sell things?”
It might seem like a strange question to ask but I think it’s worth asking - especially if it makes us stop and think about what selling is now and how it has changed during recent years. Possibly even more importantly, if it makes us stop and think about customers and and how they and their demands have changed.
I’ve increasingly applied a model I think worth sharing here. It’s called ‘INK Psychology’ because it deals with the psychology of how and why people buy things - from the smallest everyday items through to major purchases. The assertion is that everyone will go through the ‘INK’ journey with every item they purchase. It’s called ‘INK’ because I.N.K are the first three letters of the mnemonic we use to remember the steps through the journey. Let’s look at the journey below and then discuss its value and application:
- Interest aroused
- Need considered
- Knowledge added
- Suitability qualified
- Cost identified
- Means quantified
- Value appreciated
- Outside influences noted
- Gap opens (emotional gap)
- Sale made
- Gap closes (emotional gap)
So… we have an eleven step model taking us through the psychological journey people take to purchase (or not purchase) something. I make the point that they may not purchase because at any step of the journey they can stop and re-cycle back to an earlier stage, or leave the journey completely.
Test the model yourself - pick an item you have just purchased or are considering right now, and walk through the model. You will find that you went through / are going through every step of the journey, regardless of whether we’re talking about a new toothbrush or a new car or house. The journey is the same one and is either smooth and linear, or cycles around a few times before we arrive at the conclusion. A comment on the ‘GAP’ referred to here, and the importance of the term ‘emotional gap’. Completion of the journey to ‘sale made’ is pretty much guaranteed once an emotional gap appears in our lives. Our lives are often complete until we conduct the research into something we might be interested in, and suddenly, out of nowhere, a terrible gap appears.
Let’s take the Apple Watch. I must have one, I need one, I can’t manage without one! It’s amazing, it’s a “game-changer” a life-changer… and yet, until maybe six months ago, it didn’t exist in my world and I was momentarily content with an iPhone, an iPad and a MacBook although goodness knows how the emotional gap appeared and persuaded me that I needed all three of those gadgets to make my life whole again! Now they’ve done it again and my life will remain dull and empty until I add the fourth gadget to the technology "suite"! Does that sound familiar?
Notice I wrote “they’ve done it again”… look at the part Apple play in the journey… they arouse my interest, they provide easy access to the knowledge I need, in fact, they push it at me whether I need it or not, they help me to appreciate how it would be suitable for me and how it would add value to my life and then it’s down to me to take all the other steps through the journey. The steps are easy… it all makes perfect sense…and then “Hey Presto” a gap appears… a huge gap… especially when I see my best friend sporting his like some kind of MI5 , secret service, James Bond character... I’ve got to have one… how much are they?… what?… That much… yeah but look at everything it does… and how good it looks… and I have just had my quarterly bonus… a sale is made, the gap closes!
The question for us as sales people, especially relating to my initial question being “is selling a thing of the past?”, where do we step in? Where do we add value to the INK journey? And is this where “selling” is still as important as ever?
I suggest that it is as important as ever, if delivered in the right way, with the right skills and with positive intent. The role of the consultative “trusted advisor” salesperson is crucial, and if you test the role against each step you will quickly establish that we can assist, inform and influence by (1) building rapport (people still buy from people), (2) asking great questions (3) selling to needs, desires, concerns, wants, values (4) handling questions, queries and objections (5) summarising and smoothing the journey (6) closing the deal!
Your take-away, review your sales practices against the eleven step model and challenge yourself on how you behave at each step. Are you smoothing the way and influencing the outcome or are you “selling”?
By Chris Gale, Commercial Director / Solutions and Delivery Specialist, Xceeda Group. The Xceeda mission is quite simply to improve the performance of individuals, teams and organisations. They do this at strategic and operational levels by developing the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours required to achieve goals, targets and growth.