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The Psychology of Sales - 5 Principles to Keep in Mind

One of the most universally hated selling tasks is cold-calling, and there’s a reason for that.

While making a sale looks different in every industry, the core of sales has to revolve around meeting customer needs. If you don’t know anything about your customer, making a sale becomes a chore.

Because salespeople have to interact with so many different people all the time, it can be a psychologically overwhelming job. You can turn that around by applying psychological principles to your problems.

Gaining insights into the human mind can help you improve your sales without creating stress in the process.

Here’s how you can start applying psychology to your sales.

5 Psychological Principles Applied to Sales

1. Your inner dialogue matters

Salespeople are the lifeblood of every company. It sounds like a motivational poster, but the sentiment holds true. When you bring in new customers or help retain existing customers, you’re the one creating the revenue stream for the company. Remind yourself that you’re important.

Start viewing your job in sales as a privileged position. You get to interact directly with the company’s number one asset: the customers. Your job is not to extricate their money from them, but rather to help improve their lives or their businesses with your company’s products.

Sales is not about squeezing people. If your inner dialogue towards your job is largely negative, that will show up in your results. Changing your mindset about what you’re actually doing can improve your ability to prospect and increase your performance.

2. People don’t buy price and quality

While a good price and high quality are often reasons people like a product, they’re not the reasons people buy them. In both B2B and B2C companies, people buy products because they feel like it will help solve their problems and meet their needs. Products are meant to accomplish something.

It’s your job to root out their underlying feelings. Approach people with an open mind, ready to learn what they actually want to accomplish and what they’re missing. Listen closely, then you can match a product you offer to their needs and demonstrate how it will help them succeed.

3. Out of sight, out of mind

Don’t let your prospects forget about you. No matter how important you are in your own daily life, no prospects are going to remember you without a good reason. The best way to be memorable is to be present.

Regularly providing value to prospects and existing clients can keep you in their line of sight. For some, this means sending out informative emails on topics the recipient cares about. For others, it could mean a quick call to check up on the product purchased or general customer progress.

Being present keeps you in the game. Whether you see the benefits immediately or not, the efforts often pay off with direct sales to those clients, references to new clients, and product or service recommendations.

Speaking of recommendations…

4. Social proof matters

When you see a new restaurant open up, you may want to try it. But, you’re likely to be hesitant if you can’t find anyone else who’s already tried it to give you their opinion. If you find someone who liked the new place, you’re probably going to go. If they didn’t like it, you might stay away.

This same scenario plays out in almost every buying/selling situation in the world. The opinions and experiences of other people matter deeply to us. In many cases, the first opinions we hear about a company, product, or service hold more weight to us than what we hear later.

A 2013 study by the Trust Centre for Neuroimaging showed a correlation between positive opinions and an increase in the value of something. It also indicated that we often feel better when we agree with the opinions of others, whether negative or positive. When there are existing opinions expressed about something, we’re more inclined to agree with them.

Make sure you’re showing the real, positive impacts of your products. Broadcast your happy customers and showcase their great results. This small step can create a better overall image.

5. Scarcity increases value

When something is viewed as scarce, there is more value and importance assigned to it automatically. This looks different in each industry, but it always appears in some way.

In direct-to-consumer industries, scarcity can appear in messages telling you that an item is low in stock or that a certain deal is only available for a short time. In B2B spaces, scarcity shows up as deadlines for contracts or time periods for deals.

A good example of a company selling through scarcity is Amazon. Once a product listed by the company reaches a certain lower inventory level, the number of available products is displayed prominently near the purchase buttons. Although there are several customer complaints about Amazon on third party review sites, these don’t stop them from getting excellent sales results, helped in part by use of clever psychology such as this.

Creating scarcity can be a great way to develop a sense of urgency around what you’re offering to your prospects or clients. This isn’t an underhanded practice with false narratives. Instead, it’s a way of working your sales around the natural product cycle in your company.

Final Thoughts

Understanding some basic psychological principles can help you become better at sales. Observing your own thoughts, the thoughts of others, and how you’re acting based on those thoughts can bring great insights to improve your performance.

These 5 principles are a good place to start.

Contributor Bio:

Christine James believes that every customer has a voice. She is the Community Manager at HissingKitty.com (a customer complaints website) and loves talking to customers on social media about their challenges with Fortune 500 companies. Her work has been published on Huffington Post, Inc., SocialMediaToday, and Thought Catalog. Follow her on Twitter @hissingkittycom.

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