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Help Me Out, Here

September 10, 2008  

Customers often want advice when making decisions—particularly if they involve an emotional element. So, they seek the opinions of friends, colleagues, and marketers. Now research is showing that they also may seek a more personal connection with a salesperson when facing an emotional decision.

This researcher says that sales professionals who provide product information to customers may be judged according to how benevolent or expert they seem to be. The quality (benevolence or expertise) that matters to customers depends on the kind of decision they're making.

If they are making emotionally difficult decisions, customers tend to prefer benevolent information providers. (How do I start on this new restricted diet? What type of shoes will give me extra support?)

If they are making rational decisions, they tend to prefer expert information providers. (Will this time-share be worth the investment?) (Is this the right IRA for me?)

While all customers want to feel the salesperson helping them has a certain level of expertise, these results show they may also be looking for a bit of empathy when making tougher choices.

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