More Sales, Peace of Mind – Sales Psychology to the Rescue

The most destructive element in the human mind is fear. Fear creates aggressiveness (Dorothy Thompson).

Decision making is integral to the sales process. It could even be said that the primary job of the salesperson is to HELP the prospect make a decision.

Sales is about Leadership and helping others. You help them people move to action – in spite of their concerns, their challenges, their fears or their reluctance!

The ability to make decisions is essential to mastering sales. If YOU can’t make decisions when you need to – if you struggle to be decisive in your own life and business –it is very difficult for you to lead others in the decision-making process.

Sales is about Leadership and helping others. You help them people move to action – in spite of their concerns, their challenges, their fears or their reluctance!Click To Tweet

Sales psychology in Trust-Based Selling

Gosh, there is so much I have read and studied regarding sales psychology. From my own 40 years of sales experience, I agree with some of the claims – and disagree with others.

Anything contrary to relationships built on trust … I tend to disagree with!

To get started, let’s talk about a direction in research most attributed to psychologist Daniel Kahneman. He was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work concerning “human judgement and decision-making under uncertainty.”

First off, though, we should acknowledge an important concept: In Trust-Based Selling, the goal isn’t that you ‘make the sale.’ The goal is to discover the TRUTH about your potential client’s situation and whether you can help the client solve a problem or achieve a goal.

After the process of discovery, the next step is to help the prospect make the decision best in his or her own favor – and that is not always a decision for your product or service!

Ethical (and wise) salespeople don’t study decision-making in order to manipulate others, but to best serve them.Click To Tweet

One brain is plenty … but we have two!

Kahneman’s observations spring from a dichotomy in the way we think. These ‘two brains’ are readily observable in daily life.

  • Rational thinking: Solving a math problem, cooking from a recipe, arguing a point – this is the attentive mind. It is slow, cumbersome, and deliberate. It requires us to work at thinking. Because rational thinking is difficult, we fight doing it.
  • Intuitive thinking: Light and fast – this is how we deal with most of life. We are on auto-pilot, and we miss much of what happens. Watching a movie, driving a car, and engaging in casual conversations are all examples of intuitive thinking. We let our gut lead the way, while our minds are ‘a million miles away.’

For Kahneman, the fascination is with how we allow intuitive thinking to reign when we should be slowing down to focus. Perhaps we drive off the lot with a vehicle we’ve not researched enough to know whether it is the best use of our budget.

On the other side of the coin, it is also possible to think rationally and miss the bigger picture. Perhaps you go to a movie theater for relaxation with friends, but make a stink over how much the popcorn costs – throwing a damper over the light-hearted and fun time you could be having.

Because we don’t ‘think right,’ we get into all sorts of trouble. We hurt someone’s feelings with an ill-phrased remark (You’ve heard me say this many times: In sales EVERY WORD MATTERS!). Maybe we aren’t paying attention to road signs and take a wrong turn, causing us to arrive late to a crucial appointment, or we make snap decisions we later regret.

Because we don’t ‘think right,’ we get into all sorts of trouble. Click To Tweet

Our decision making is colored by cognitive bias

A common sales maxim is that “People buy based on emotion, then justify the decision with logic.” Kahneman would attribute that tendency to one of many “cognitive biases.” These biases help the intuitive mind justify its mistakes and avoid thinking too hard.

The mind doesn’t like to be troubled. That is why going for a walk, watching a sunset, and entering a state of meditation feels so good.

Cognitive dissonance is “the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.”

We try to avoid mental anguish at all costs.

One thing I can say for certain, from my years of sales experience, is that inner conflict (cognitive dissonance) is at the root of many ‘failed’ sales calls, sales conversations, or sales presentations.

Cognitive dissonance is almost ALWAYS at the root of the professional sales person or professional who fears selling.

It is the tendency to avoid cognitive dissonance that leads to choice-supportive bias. Under its influence, the customer will readily acknowledge reasons why the buying decision was a great idea and reject any evidence to the contrary.

Without sufficient input though, choice-supportive bias can give way to “buyer’s remorse.” That is why it is important for sellers to follow-up a purchase by supporting the decision with continued contacts and dependable customer service. It is also why guarantees are effective in relieving the buying tension to help a client ‘decide’ to move forward in the buying decision.

Inner conflict is at the root of many ‘failed’ sales calls, sales conversations, or sales presentations.Click To Tweet

A peak-performing sales strategy must take sales psychology into consideration

The big thing I want you to know, right now, is that sales decisions incorporate both rational and intuitive thinking.

To be of maximum effectiveness, it is important to be aware of both processes AND to know the cognitive biases that come into play.

Yes, this is sales graduate school.

Don’t worry, though. We will keep the talk fun, educational, and practical. My hope is that you will walk away from this series with a newfound interest in sales psychology.

To get started, go to the page listed below and watch the short video there. It provides an “ah-hah” example of what we’re talking about.

Next week, we will look at specific cognitive biases and how they come into play during the sales process.

GO HERE: An example of two-brain perception error

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