By Jeff Shore
Anticipated Memories
You just decided it’s time to start looking for a brand new car. What happens next?

You probably begin compiling a long list of purchase factors: brand, style, features, buy vs. lease, etc. You’re all over the car-buying sites on the Internet and are probably paying more attention to car commercials.

But, simultaneously, something else is happening. Something deeply psychological. I’ll bet you didn’t know that you’re also thinking about “anticipated memories.”

This concept comes from Daniel Kahneman book Thinking Fast and Slow. On this topic, Kahneman states, “We think of our future in terms of anticipated memories.”

Simply put, anticipated memories are opportunities to take a current moment in time and decide how we will reflect back on it in the future.

Essentially, the remembering self picks and chooses momentous experiences… to keep in our inner memory archive. Everything else, like what you ate for breakfast on April 7th three years ago is simply forgotten.

Chew on that idea for a moment.

Think about some recent purchases you’ve made. Somewhere in the deliberation process, your mind is processing the experience in terms of anticipated memories – “How am I going to look back at this moment?”

Here’s another example: vacation planning. The entire time you are scouring websites looking at hotels and resorts and activities, you are simultaneously placing yourself into that future. Your brain is forecasting the potential experience you will have if you make choice A or choice B. Very powerful stuff!

This is true for practically everything we purchase – a car, a vacation, a computer… whatever.

Now think about your customers. They are experiencing the exact same process when it comes to purchasing your product or service. Whatever you sell, your customer’s decision-making process involves a psychological journey into the anticipated memory.

This mental progression provides your customers with an instinctive glimpse into their future-case scenario. And they are much more likely to make a purchase decision when they have greater clarity in their anticipated future state.

That means your job as a salesperson is to promote customer clarity throughout the purchase process. The clearer your customer senses the anticipated memory will be positive, the easier it will be to advance the sale.

Here are three ways to provide that clarity:

1. Define the Future

Ask questions about your customer’s desired future state.

  • “What are some of your current frustrations with ___________?
  • “What are you hoping your life will look like one (month/year) from now”?
  • “What’s on your purchase ‘must have’ list?”
  • “What features about my product/service appeal to you? …cause you concern?”

Your role is to both gain clarity (for yourself) and focus clarity (for your prospect). It’s possible your customer has not fully considered any of these questions. Bringing them up will help them establish future clarity.

2. Describe the Future

Restate what you hear from the customer succinctly and clearly – but do so from an emotional perspective. For example,

  • “I hear you saying that you feel stressed about ________ and that you’ll feel more peaceful when you have __________. Is that right”?
  • “Just so I’m clear, it sounds like you’ll be really excited when ______________. Do I have that right”?

Remember, anticipated memories are not solely a thought process. A crucial factor with anticipated memories are how they make your customer feel.

3. Drive the Future

Now you can begin to guide your customer toward achieving their desired future state. I really like using the cooperative word “let’s” in this situation (as in “let’s do this”).

  • “Got it, and thanks for sharing. Now that I understand your situation, let’s take a look at your options and you can determine what works best for you.”
  • “Great. Now that we know where you are and where you want to end up, let’s chart out a plan that best suits your needs.”

The concept of anticipated memory gives us a new and powerful way to help our customers reframe their current situation and rethink their future.

Identify that future, clarify their hopes and dreams, provide some professional guidance, and you’re well on your way to changing their world.