What Valentine’s Day Teaches Us About Selling

With intense emotion fused into the day, logic is suffocated, need becomes craving, and price is deemed irrelevant

All logic will go out the window this weekend. A stem of rose that usually sells for 10 shillings and carries over to the next day unsold, will sell for ten times more and  run out in a day! A colour that  means danger any other day, will magically carry a different meaning this Sunday-love. Men who were relatively stress-free in their relationship will become increasingly stressful as Sunday approaches. Pause. This is a sales and not relationship column, so, let me stick to point. What does Valentine’s Day teach us about selling?

Emotion sells

Whereas this is most profound on Valentine’s Day, it only mirrors everyday purchases. No purchase is based on logic; logic follows to justify the emotion. The gynecologist is good because he is tender and listens, not because he has several initials after his name; we chose the school for our child because we admire how the neighbour’s child who schools there presents himself and not because the curriculum is superior.  It would take an extremely depressing host to kill a radio show that is based on relationships (emotion). Therefore, explaining that “given your circumstance, you do not need to incur the extra cost of a higher package” connects you emotionally more to the buyer than does, “refer to the link below for our terms & conditions”

Mould it while it’s wet and know your customer

Valentine’s Day comes and goes. My friend Kanyi runs a creative agency; she started selling customized hampers through social media from last week. Her target market? Men. Because, she told me, “I know how stressed they get during Valentine’s and so I took the opportunity to reduce their stress levels by showing them the image of the product (I received mine via WhatsApp, ahem, ahem) and delivering it for them; they pay via M-Pesa and most don’t even get to see it.” (Girls reading this must be disgusted; how unromantic). And that’s the point really. The sale is never about the seller. She’s managed to remove herself as a woman from the equation and looked at it from her buyer’s (men) perspective. What does my buyer struggle with and how can I help him resolve it? Could I arrange a payment plan in tandem with his cash flow, for instance? Because Valentine’s is one day Kanyi has buffered her distribution infrastructure to ensure that all deliveries are made on time. This calls for preparation. There are prospects we come short of stalking in our quest to meet them. They are decision makers; and then “Valentine’s Day” arrives and they agree to meet us…and “err, uumm, you know” punctuate the presentation. We planned the hunt but not the kill. Like Valentine’s Day the opportunity is gone before you sent the gift. Mercifully in business you only feel the loss of the sale, in relationships you will feel the mistake that night and every day thereafter. Mould it while it’s wet.

Price doesn’t matter when the need is pressing

When we must travel in December, that the fare is three times higher will not matter much; when the craving to keep up with the Joneses must be appeased, we will not ‘see’ the price of the loan to buy the trendy car. Hurry while stocks last rides on this stance. Progressive salespeople show how their product or service solves the customer’s need, because once this is achieved, price falls away as an objection. For instance, explaining to the hospital administrator that installing the through way elevator will save lives because it cuts down by half the time it takes in an emergency to wheel a patient from casualty to theatre and because entry and exist is possible without turning the stretcher. This weekend a rose will retail for 100 bob.  Those remembering Valentine’s Day on their way home at night, reminded by the hawkers selling roses in traffic, will buy it for even more. They’ll give their arm to avoid the cold shoulder from the wife/girlfriend because they forgot. When need is pressing enough, price is of little consequence.

Have a peaceful Valentine’s Day!


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