In her seminal 1996 book, “The Power of Framing: Creating the Language of Leadership,” Gail Fairhurst, Ph.D., explains that when we communicate through framing, we shape the reality of a situation. Our past experiences and perspective create a frame through which we perceive the world and which guide our decision-making. However, the wrong frame in the wrong situation can lead to bad decisions. As Fairhurst explains, through effective framing and use of language, we can become better leaders because we are relating to our followers better and, therefore, being more persuasive.
When it comes to selling products and services to prospective customers, frames can interfere with making the sale. But they can also have a positive effect when used appropriately.
Framing for Positive Outcomes
During the sales process, associates need to be cognizant of the potential buyer’s own frame and how it affects how he or she makes purchases. Many buyers may be hesitant to commit, and these objections can result in failures and frustrations. To navigate the buyer’s hesitations, salespeople need to frame their interactions—drawing on the customer’s wants and needs—to make the customer care about what they’re selling.
Appealing to emotions is essential to the sales process, the buyer should feel good about his or her decision to purchase the product. The salesperson should focus on putting positive twists on perceived negatives, as they can affect how customers react to a sales pitch.
“The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice,” written by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky and published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, touched upon the psychological principles of framing. The authors’ posit that people are more influenced by the pain of loss rather than the rewards of gain and will take greater risks to avoid loss than to see potential gain. By framing a pitch around eliminating the threat of loss, salespeople have a greater chance at success.
An effective framing sales pitch puts an emphasis on the outcome, showing prospective clients that they will experience a positive change from purchasing the salesperson’s product or service. While framing can be problematic when used inappropriately, with professional coaching it can be leveraged during the sales call. Creating context for the potential buyer can be the difference between losing or closing the deal.