The Psychology of Sales

Lets face facts. Selling is a fantastic game. And at the very top branches of the retail tree it is more of an art than a science. Sure there is a scientific side to it that is increasing our understanding. However, there is no escaping the fact that the most successful retailers understand the art of customer experience and the psychology of sales.

Retail is theatre. Stanley Goodman – the former head of May Corporation and Federated Department Stores – said it best when he explained that “Retail is entertainment and the store is a stage. When the customer has fun, they spend more money.”

Like all endeavors, there is a big gap between the best and the rest. The best have embedded the rational side of things and have systems and processes in place to drive them. They focus human energy and inspiration on the emotional side for substantial improvement.

In theatre as in retail, there is a great deal of rational thought that goes into the design of the stage, the lighting, the script, the casting and the direction. But what makes a performance a five star hit is the connection between the cast and the audience. The human interaction and emotional spark that so enchants people, they want to immediately race off to their family and friends to beseech them to attend the next performance.

In retail, our stage is the selling environment – physical and virtual. On the whole, we tend to spend too much organizational energy on the rational aspects because we come from a ‘buy, move, sell’ culture. We think engineering or manufacture out rather than customer in. The best do both and the art is in balancing the overlap to create super-profit.

It is absolutely true that you have to have all the basics, all the right enablers and all the right capabilities in place. But too many retailers stay glued to these basic, rational aspects of operations and have little or no room left for the more sophisticated, more emotional aspects of retail psychology.

If you rely on face value feedback from customers of what they think they want you will a) go broke and b) not satisfy your customers. Part of the art of great customer experience and sales psychology is giving them what they didn’t even know they wanted and making them feel they got great value spending more than they wanted to spend.

In the era of demand driven market economics, increased success with customers relies on an experience which relaxes them, removes stress, engenders trust, removes barriers to purchase, entertains and informs them and makes them feel good about the process of buying and the goods and services they purchased.

Crack that recipe and you’ll go from being Jamie Nobody to Jamie Oliver in a heartbeat.