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It Must Be Love: The Emotional Business Pitch

A sales pitch isn’t about you. It is about generating sufficient interest that what you are offering fulfils your clients’ needs. Essentially you are asking people to change, and that begins with a decision.

So, how do you come to a decision?  Is it through a cold, clinical and rational analysis of the available information and alternatives?  Most people tend to believe this, but it’s actually not borne out by what we do in reality.  In most cases, it is not logic that drives the decision making process, but emotions.

In his 1994 best-seller Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio argued that emotions are a vital component of nearly every decision we make.  He posited that when we have to make up our mind about something, emotions from previous, related experiences assign values to the options we are considering.  Our emotional brain is creating preferences which ultimately lead to our decision.  His theory came from studies of people with damage in the part of the brain that deals with emotions.  They found it very difficult to make decisions, even relatively minor ones.

Emotions are the principle reasons why people buy from brands even when they can purchase far cheaper generic goods that are made with the same ingredients.  Brands are successful because they create an emotional connection with consumers. 

Emoticons on note paper attched to rope with clothes pins

In a study of academic literature on emotion and advertising, Abhilasha Mehta and Scott C. Purvis concluded that emotional content in commercials can enhance the ability of consumers to remember them.  This in turn, influences their purchase intent.

This is further backed up by observations scientists have made about brain activity. Neuroimaging studies have revealed that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use the part of the brain that responds to emotion rather than facts and dry data.

What does this mean for you?

What all this research means for your pitch is that your clipboard could be stuffed with stats and facts about how your product is the best thing since sliced bread with peanut butter and chocolate, but in the final analysis, at the point of decision, emotions are key for making a choice.  This isn’t to say that the data you present isn’t important, but you cannot hope for success if you aren’t engaging your audience’s emotions using words, pictures and video.  Doing so massages parts of the brain with an appetite for colour, and moves people towards action.

In response to an emotional trigger, humans feel compelled to act, to do something.  For example, insecurity causes us to buy insurance policies, fear forces us to turn and run – or stay and fight.  Often, but not always, a pitch based solely on reason and logic is likely to fail.  The failure is down to the inability to grasp how the other person arrives at their decision.

Therefore, if your sales pitch doesn’t engage people emotionally, you are unlikely to get them to act in the way you want them to.  You cannot force people to think a certain way, but you can help them to make a decision that feels right or is advantageous for them.  And people make these decisions largely out of self-interest.  And that is guided by emotion.

The more you can appeal to the emotional side of their brain, the more likely you are to succeed with your pitch.

Call me now and we can talk about how to engage the emotions of your audience…

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