How many people do you know that open up and tell their inner-most feelings to a complete stranger? None, unless their strange people. If you asked the clerk at Home Depot how they’re doing and they went into their sob story about their divorce, wouldn’t you feel like that was a little inappropriate? I know I would. But here’s the problem. People buy based on emotional reasons so it’s tough to sell something to someone if they’re unwilling to tell you about their emotions.
I like to think of people like onions. On the outside, you have their surface pains. You know, the ones that you might hear from someone in line at Home Depot. You ask the clerk, “How’s your day going,” and he says “Not too bad. I’m glad I get off work in an hour because my feet are killing me.” Inappropriate? Not really.
What if he said, “I can’t wait to get out of here because I’m going home to put my feet up. You see, I’m a diabetic and my ankles are swollen from standing on them all day. My feet are killing me.” Still not too bad. But what if he then pulled up his pant leg and showed you his swollen ankles? Or worse yet, he showed you the diabetic ulcers on his leg? Whoa, now we just crossed the line. That’s not right, you think to yourself. Did he really just show me his ulcers? That’s not something you do to a complete stranger. That’s inappropriate. That’s one of the inner layers of the onion that only people who are closer to this clerk should see. Maybe his family cares to see the inner layer of that onion but I sure don’t care to see that.
Here’s the thing…when people show you their inner layers, when they confess their real pains, that’s when you have an opportunity to deepen the relationship and build rapport with them in a way that builds trust and causes them to buy from you. If you can get your customers to open up and show you the inner layers of the onion, rather than just showing you the outside of the onion (or their surface pains) then you’ll dramatically increase your odds of making the sale. The onion is a great metaphor because onions actually make you cry when you start to peel back the layers. The emotions that make you cry are often the same ones that cause you to buy. When the pain in great enough to make you cry, that’s often the point where you’re willing to part with your money in order to solve the pain. Hope that helps.