Bridging the Emotional Gap

By April 2, 2019September 3rd, 2019Blog

In an article published in the Harvard Business Review, Kimberlyn Leary, Julianna Pillemer and Michael Wheeler discuss the different effects emotion can have in negotiations. They examine how individuals displaying strong emotional reactions can impede negotiations, but that when approached correctly, they can also be turned into a positive.

‘The truth is that your passions matter in real-life deal making and dispute resolution. You need to understand, channel, and learn from your emotions in order to adapt to the situation at hand and engage others successfully. That means you need to be emotionally prepared to negotiate – even when you expect the process to go smoothly.’ (Harvard Business Review)

It’s not just about controlling your own emotions as a salesperson or keeping the conversation emotionally neutral. Uncovering what is sometimes referred to as the ‘emotional gap’ is a key step in a successful sales negotiation.

I spoke with Peter Rosenwald, co-founder of Chartered Developments about what he saw as the difference between logical and emotional gaps. “Often, the important thing that motivates a business to change is the logical gap (an issue that is substantive and objective such as not hitting targets in a particular area or investments that aren’t making as much as expected). However, rarely will someone make a final decision solely on this basis. Instead, people often make decisions emotionally and justify them logically. The emotional decision is based on whether they like the person who is selling to them; whether they get along with them, whether they think they have authority. They also need to have an emotional attachment to the issue at hand: what does it mean to them on a personal level? How do they feel about it? What would happen if you didn’t do anything about it?”

The technique of uncovering this motivation has been used by US based company Sandler Training. The theory is that by revealing the emotional dissatisfaction of your prospect, not in terms of how they feel about you but in terms of the gap between their current state and where they want to be, you reveal a gap which your solutions – be they services or products – can help bridge.

‘the key to closing more sales is uncovering pain – that is, uncovering a level of emotional discomfort on the prospect’s part that’s sufficient to inspire action to change what isn’t working’ (Sandler Training)

So how does this translate in terms of telemarketing? How can an intelligent and nuanced phone call to a prospect help to identify this gap?

Do your research

Remember that you’re not phoning a business, you’re phoning an individual. Do what you can to find out about who you are calling. LinkedIn and their website can be particularly helpful here. Even the smallest detail can create an initial personal bond.

Building rapport and developing trust

Rapport and trust go hand-in-hand. The more trust the recipient of your call has in you, the more they will open up. You need to convince the person on the other end of the phone that you are not just a competent and experienced professional, but also that you are an individual who can empathise with their frustrations and anxieties both in life and in business. Consider using (appropriate) humour to cross the divide between the business and the personal. Storytelling is also a great way to engage a prospect and to create a connection – more on this in a later article on the Chartered Developments blog page.

trustFollow your gut

Once you have a rapport, you need to maintain it. Following a script isn’t enough, you need the agility to be able to shepherd a conversation in such a way that elicits the details you need to understand the emotional gap. It’s an instinctive process, but one based on maturity and professional experience to allow the caller to naturally empathise with the recipient.

The key is in knowing how to identify the emotional gap when your hear it and then knowing how to bridge the gap. This is where a mature and experienced calling team wins. Our callers all come from a professional background – they know how the business owners and managers feel in their roles; they have the instinct and intelligence to be agile in their negotiations with prospects and the knowledge to recognise ways to bridge the gap between where the prospect is and where they want to be.