What my socks taught me about selling

About five years ago, I developed an obsession with wearing colorful socks.

Nice, aren’t they? See how the alternating blue stripes go with the blue suede of my shoes? Now, look at the orange in the…never mind. I get carried away, sometimes.

Not long after I started wearing colorful socks, they became kind of a trademark — something people noticed and remembered about me.

My socks made prospects smile. They made customers curious. People wanted to know where I got them and even looked forward to seeing what socks I’d wear for our next meeting.

Make people “feel” something

Here’s an interesting thing: while talking about my socks, the shields that people typically kept raised while talking to a salesperson started coming down. Prospects became chatty — more “real” and relaxed.

I was able to get more insights into my buyers motivations for change, a lot more. Since prospects felt more comfortable, gaining access to deeper levels of information wasn’t forced, but a natural outcome.

For example, when asking what impact doing nothing would have on their business during a “shallow” conversion I might hear, “It would lower sales”.

But during a relaxed conversation, I might hear, “Our current online auto quote flow isn’t very good at helping people decide what type of coverage to select which has caused numerous problems. In fact, to be candid, five months ago I almost lost my job because we couldn’t increase conversion rates. So what you folks are offering is really critical.

Unless your prospect feels a connection with you, they won’t open up and tell you what really matters to them. Connecting opens the door to trust.

Feelings have a long shelf life

Recently, LinkedIn notified me a client I had sold to four years ago was having a work anniversary. So I shot off a quick congrats message.

Here’s the thread:

Now remember — I last saw this guy four years ago. I don’t even remember what I sold him, and I doubt he does either. But he does remember how I made him feel.

Maya Angelou said it best, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Create positive emotional experiences

The sock thing led to other experiments aimed at making people smile. Making people smile became the objective. Period. Not a tactic used to get a sale.

For example, I paid somebody on Fiverr ten dollars to wish one of my customers a happy birthday.

Here’s the video:

And here’s the response I received:

Ask somebody who buys advertising for a living the last time they made that kind of connection with a customer for ten bucks.

Bringing this all together

Creating positive emotional experiences builds trust allowing you to better help your customer succeed. The more your customers trust you the more they will:

  • Reveal what really matters to them
  • Forgive you for a mistake
  • Take your calls
  • Share “behind the scenes” information
  • Tell you the truth so you don’t end up chasing