I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. She is a regional sales manager for a large cosmetic company. His job is to maintain contracts with all the large department stores. I never really thought about that kind of business before, but it is really competitive. She needs to maintain very good relationships with her respective counterparts at the various department stores. In order to do this she needs to do quite a bit of traveling.
One of the things that surprised me most was that the decisions that are made by the various department store managers, those that are in charge of the cosmetics department, are made based on a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes the actual quality of the product is a factor, but often times itâ€™s not. It didn’t take her long to learn this. The first time she realized this her company was up for review at a medium sized department store. The manager had to choose between her company and a rival. She did her market research and realized that the rival’s product did not have nearly as much quality, history, and sales as hers. So she assumed it would be an easy decision by the manager.
What she didn’t realize was that the manager had a previous relationship with the other sales rep. They used to go to the same church several years ago. So when she chose the competitor because of that reason, my friend quickly realized that product quality was not always, in fact rarely, the main reason department stores chose one product line over another.
She began studying persuasion technology in earnest. She went to several seminars, read several books, and even took few marketing classes at the university level. What she found was fascinating.
The marketing courses she took at the university were not helpful, as they were filled with theories and long-winded articles about psychological speculations that seemed completely inapplicable in the real world. Most of these marketing books were written by professors who never really sold anything in their lives.
One book she read that really helped was by a psychologist, but it was a book that was based on hands on social experiments, rather than obscure theories. And what she learned was fascinating. More often than not, people at all levels make decisions not on logical, but on emotional impulse. People usually make up a logical reason shortly after the emotionally based decision, so quickly that is below conscious awareness. So even if we fool ourselves into believing that we make logical decisions that are rarely the case.
The second thing she learned was how easy it was to use these simple emotional triggers in others to help her to sell her product. Ever since she made that breakthrough, her accounts have steadily increased over the years. She tells me she likely would never had been successful had she relied only on university marketing classes and product information based logic. Once she learned how to tap into the emotional buying decisions of others, it became very easy.
One of the things she found that was the most powerful, and therefore the hardest to overcome was a pre existing relationship. If the department store had a long relationship with a current manufacturer, then it was almost impossible to get her foot in the door. The longer the relationship between the department store manager and the manufacturing sales representative, the harder it would be for the department store manager to change his or her mind.
One thing she learned from that was it is always good to start and maintain new relationships. That is the key to success.