In Robert B. Cialdini's book, Influence: Science and Practice, he examines the psychological complexity of sales processes, and most importantly, how we get someone to say, “Yes.” A crucial concept to understanding these practices is the trigger feature, which is a person's neural response to stimuli. Not everyone has the same trigger feature because we do not respond to situations or dilemmas in the same way, but the strong emotional feelings that we all experience—happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust—are standard amongst all humans, and thus, can be somewhat predicted.
Now, as stated, these trigger features are universal, so as a salesperson it is not diabolical or overtly manipulative to be knowledgeable and sensitive to people's emotional responses. This is simply being an emotionally aware person, and a people-centered salesperson. Because knowing why your client is happy, sad, fearful, angry, surprised and disgusted is as important as knowing what they are feeling in the first place.
AEC Trigger Features
First, the trigger that you would “pull” as an AEC salesperson is dependent upon the advantages your firm emphasizes. For example, if you do high-end work, or cater more toward economically efficient projects. In all cases, here are some examples of "triggers features" that your salesperson could employ.
Danger / Safety (for Established Firms or Who Have Won S.T.E.P Safety Awards)
This itrigger would be especially useful for jobs that would involve intricate construction, perhaps in a small and overpopulated site where passersby could get injured. Emphasizing the complexity of the job, the fact that the process is enormously difficult and dangerous, while highlighting your firm’s commitment to safety, as noted in your S.T.E.P award, can instill fear in the client that it could be dangerous to hire anyone else. Imagine if someone was hurt in the process? Fear is a remarkably powerful trigger.
Quality / Competition (If You Specialize in High-End Work)
This is also potentially a fear trigger, but also anger, surprise, or pride. Imagine if a client has many competitors in the area. The other competitors have invested in their infrastructure to have high-quality facilities. Making the client aware of the high level of craftsmanship being performed, and that if they are going to be competitive in this market, they need to also show the same level of commitment, is a way to entice them to feel strongly about their decision to hire you.
Within this trigger is the idea that the economy is thriving, which, depending upon where you live in the US, and the type of services your client provides, may be true. Texas, for instance, has witnessed tremendous growth recently, whereas Southern California still seems to be bouncing back from the Great Recession.
Financial Concern (Great for Economically Efficient Firms)
Who doesn’t worry about money these days? Either you want more of it because you need it, or you’re worried you’re going to lose what you have worked so hard for. Money is clearly a huge motivator for businesses, and something to highlight is the hard times we are currently facing. Pushing that button that it sounds like for your client to cut some corners, and that your firm just so happens to be brilliant at cutting costs, might be that final trigger that brings the client over to your team.
Why Are We Facing Hard Times? But Business Is Good?
Business may be great, but the fact of the matter is that China is in a recession, and it’s unclear when they’ll get out of it, and if the worst is yet to come. If China’s economy topples, this will have a tremendous ripple effect throughout the world. Also, 2016 has already seen a rapidly fluctuating and unsteady stock market in the US. Because of China, and the lack of confidence in the European Union, investors are weary of buying assets, which serves to create liquidity in the financial markets. To sum up, business may be moving slowly in the coming year, so if your clients feel this crunch, and want to cut costs, perhaps emphasizing your ability to save them money is a good idea.