The keys to successful selling are emotional and irrational: Why being a small business is your secret weapon

Start-ups and small businesses have an unfair advantage over bigger businesses when it comes to online sales, says retail and innovation consultant Matt Newell.

“Weirdly, small business always try to look big. And big businesses try to look small,” the strategy partner at retail consultancy The General Store says.

“So if you’re a small business, you’ve got lots of strength. Your passion about why you started your business is compelling, so don’t hide that by trying to look corporate. Look small, look passionate and look hungry.”

The General Store has worked with start-ups such as Shoes of Prey and bigger firms such as Brands Exclusive. Newell will be speaking at the upcoming Online Retailer Roadshow in Brisbane and Perth about why tapping into the emotional aspects of selling is the key to online success.

Newell told StartupSmart retailers today can get trapped in conversations about channel strategies rather than focusing on engaging their customers as human beings.

“We have far too many conversations about channels and not enough about human beings and in my view, if you stay focused on the fact there are people on the other side of every kind of screen, this will guide you brilliantly through all those channel discussions,” he says.

Newell says regardless of whether he’s working with online or physical stores, or sellers using both, it’s about creating an emotional connection with your customers to draw them in, and then showing you’re professional and can be trusted towards the end of the sales process.

“The really emotional stuff gets them to your brand, and the rational stuff boosts the conversion,” he says.

“Getting on people’s radar is more about beliefs than needs. All the rational questions will come up at the end so offering the ability to compare the products, to feel empowered with information about the process and easy shipping matter, but you shouldn’t lead with them.”

Newell says the most extreme version of this in Australian retail is each launch of the iPhone. During the launch of the iPhone 4s, Newell interviewed the first 10 people in the queue outside Apple’s flagship Sydney store that snaked for blocks down the city’s chaotically crowded George Street.

“It took me 10 minutes to walk to the end of queue. The guys at the very front of the line had been there for days, and all of them had the iPhone 4, so they were queuing for a phone they pretty much already had,” Newell says.

“It’s never about features at first; it’s about sharing in a vision with the brand about innovation and creativity.

“Every company has a vision; it’s about amplifying that regardless of which channel you use to sell.”


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