How a Romantic Principle Applies in Sales and Technology

While in Geneva, Switzerland to attend the World Investment Forum, I had the chance to reconnect with old friends from Alibaba Business School (ABS). Before even saying hello, one of them took a photo of my jacket. When I asked him what’s up, he told me he likes my jacket, and that he wants to buy a similar one. In a few minutes, his mobile app analyzed the photo, led him to an e-commerce store, and in one click, he was able to buy the same jacket that I have. He said it would be delivered to his house in 30 minutes.

The best time to sell is at the point when a person is most in love with you — this is the single strongest sales principle that we were taught in ABS.

It’s quite interesting how a romantic principle became the key sales model of multiple large tech companies globally. In a social setting, the best time to propose to your partner is at the point when he or she is most in love with you. Imagine if at this moment, you forgot the ring, and the following day you had a big fight, do you think she would still say yes? Probably, but it would definitely be harder, all because you missed that one opportunity to propose and the time between the next attempt made room for other things to happen.

It’s the same thing in sales. Imagine yourself, when you see someone wearing an outfit or using a product you like, you would normally ask where he bought it, which brand, then given the time, you would try to visit the shop to check it out. But this whole process takes a while. The duration between the time you first see and like a product, to the possible point of sale, could take days.

Because of the time gap, most likely, with the rapid flow of information in our daily lives, you would have forgotten about it, or not cared at all, in just a few hours after first seeing it.

For a business, this equates to opportunity losses, and the ugly truth is, businesses all over the world would have made billions of dollars’ worth of possible income if only they captured the sale at the point when a person was most in love with you, the point when a person first gravitated towards your product.

People today are impatient. Everyone wants something instantly, if they can’t get it now, they’ll immediately move on and forget about you. Given the example of my experience with my friend, if he didn’t have access to the technology to buy a similar jacket that I had when he first saw me, I am pretty sure he would have forgotten about it within the day.

Fortunately we are in a different time now. New business principles supported by technology have made it possible for us to attain instant gratification or instant fulfillment at the point of infatuation.

In China, there are now fashion shows wherein spectators can immediately buy and pay for a dress as soon as they see it being modelled in the ramp. How fashion shows usually work is that enthusiasts watching a designer’s new collection will talk to the designer privately after seeing a dress they like from the show. This meeting can happen a few hours after the show, but can also take days or weeks. Unfortunately, this practice will only end up capturing a small percentage of the original attendees of the show to buy since people may not have the time to engage the designer, or may have lost interest after a while.

In China, what they did is they empowered the attendees with technology. If an attendee wants to buy one of the outfits in the collection, as soon as the outfit is worn and showcased by a model in the ramp, all the attendee needs to do is to take a shot of the outfit, and instantly, she’ll be able to find out the price of the outfit and buy it — everything within minutes of first seeing the dress. This obviously results to higher sales for the designer, and the best part, it happens at the same time the dress collection is first showcased — sale at the point when a person is most in love with your product.

Businesses now in the digital economy has a massive focus on user experience. The one who gives the best experience wins the game. You may have the best technology, the best price, or even the best business model, but if your competition gives a better customer experience to your market, you will still most likely lose out.

The principle of selling at the point when a person is most in love with you is a great example of an experience-centric model. By empowering your customers to enact on what he wants within seconds of seeing it, you give him a frictionless experience in the whole purchase journey.

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