The Art of Persuasion: Applying Psychology with Sales Techniques

Understanding human psychology can be a game-changer in sales. Sales is not just about pitching a product or service; it’s about connecting with people on a deeper level and influencing their decisions. By applying principles of psychology to sales techniques, professionals can enhance their effectiveness and build stronger relationships with clients. Let’s explore some important psychological concepts and how they can be applied in sales.

First, establishing rapport is essential in sales. People are likelier to buy from someone they trust and feel comfortable with. Building rapport involves active listening, empathy, and mirroring the client’s behavior and language. Psychologically, this creates a sense of familiarity and likability, making the client more receptive to the sales pitch.

Understanding the psychology of persuasion is crucial. Robert Cialdini’s six principles of influence – reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking, and consensus – provide valuable insights into how people are persuaded to say “yes.” By aligning sales strategies with these principles, professionals can ethically nudge prospects toward making favorable decisions.

And finally, emotional intelligence is crucial in sales. Empathizing with clients’ needs and concerns allows salespeople to tailor their approach effectively. Recognizing and addressing emotional triggers will create a more meaningful connection and guide the client toward a positive outcome.

Here at One of a Kind Sales, we apply psychology to all of our sales techniques. Our proven methodology leads us to success and great results. To find out more, give us a call at 908-879-2911.

 

Decoding Sales Ethics: OK vs. Not-OK Practices

In the dynamic world of sales, success is often determined by a combination of strategy, skill, and ethical conduct. While there are countless approaches to selling, not all methods are created equal. Some practices can yield positive results in the short term but may harm relationships and reputations in the long run. Let’s explore the fine line between acceptable and unacceptable sales practices.

OK Practices:

Honesty and Transparency: Building trust is essential in sales. Being honest about product capabilities, pricing, and potential outcomes establishes a solid foundation for lasting customer relationships.

Active Listening: Understanding the needs and concerns of customers is crucial. Active listening allows sales professionals to tailor their approach to address specific pain points and offer meaningful solutions.

Value Proposition: Highlighting the value proposition of a product or service demonstrates its relevance to the customer’s needs. Focusing on benefits rather than features helps prospects envision the impact on their lives or businesses.

Relationship Building: Successful salespeople invest time in nurturing relationships with customers. This involves maintaining regular communication, providing support after the sale, and demonstrating a genuine interest in the client’s success.

Continuous Learning: The sales landscape is constantly evolving. Embracing a continuous learning mindset enables sales professionals to stay updated on industry trends, refine their skills, and adapt to changing market dynamics.

Not OK Practices:

Misrepresentation: Exaggerating product capabilities or making false promises to close a sale is unethical. While it may result in short-term gains, it damages credibility and can lead to negative word-of-mouth and potential legal consequences.

High-pressure Tactics: Pressuring customers into purchasing aggressive tactics or false scarcity creates a sense of distrust and can tarnish the reputation of both the salesperson and the company.

Ignoring Feedback: Disregarding customer feedback or failing to address complaints can alienate clients and damage relationships. Listening to concerns and taking proactive steps to resolve issues demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction.

Lack of Transparency: Hiding important information, such as hidden fees or contract terms, breeds mistrust. Transparency fosters open communication and ensures that customers make informed decisions.

Neglecting Ethics: Engaging in unethical behavior, such as bribery or kickbacks, undermines the integrity of the sales process. Upholding ethical standards is essential for maintaining trust and credibility in the eyes of customers and stakeholders.

While the sales profession is inherently competitive, ethical conduct should always remain a top priority. By adhering to honesty, transparency, and customer-centricity principles, sales professionals can build strong relationships, foster loyalty, and achieve long-term success.

What is Combo Prospecting?

At a recent Sandler Training Session, I was inspired by a Sandler trainer, Emily Yepes, who spoke about the challenges of prospecting. In this competitive environment, we all need to “up our game” to reach the prospects we believe we can help.  Prospecting is often the biggest ‘pain point’ for my clients and to meet this need, I’ve become a student of different prospecting approaches.

What is most attractive about Emily’s approach, which she refers to as “Combo Prospecting,” is her simultaneous use of multiple channels to reach a targeted individual. She uses LinkedIn outreach, phone calls, and email to reach a targeted client.  She also leverages video in both email and LinkedIn. What’s important is that the targeted individual is someone who she knows is likely to be interested in her solution at some point. She personalizes her messaging by incorporating a topic that is relevant to the individual – something they’ve posted about recently or even recent media coverage that impacts their business.  She attempts to engage by asking a question.  She does not start to sell to this person immediately.  Her mission is to engage them and stand out.  Doing a bit of background research on each person enables her to do this.

As an example, on day one, a targeted prospect might receive a phone call, an email, and a LinkedIn message.  While this may seem like overkill, remember that your prospect is not 100% focused on any one of these channels. Some people don’t go to LinkedIn often, others never pick up the phone, and email is easily overlooked.  From consumer research, we know that it takes multiple exposures to get a consumer to recognize a new brand or name.  Likely, the message a targeted prospect takes away from this type of outreach is that you have prioritized reaching them.  Over 30 days, you can alternate between using one or two methods every two to three days.  By day 30 if there is no response you can send them a final goodbye email.   Like other outreach methods, you develop a routine that you should stick to, and over time the number of responses should accumulate.

I’m trialing this approach by targeting 20 prospects. I reached out with an initial phone call, followed by an email and a LinkedIn message.  In none of these contacts did I attempt to sell. My subsequent contacts will alternate between two of the three channels and will incorporate personalized videos.   What was striking to me was that in just 47 minutes I was able to make an initial outreach to 20 individuals through multiple channels. Think about how long would it have taken for me to visit 20 prospects in person! And, if I only used one method to reach out to 20 people, imagine how much lower my chances of generating a response would be.

Ultimately, I believe this approach will yield great results.  As I have just initiated this process, I don’t have the final numbers, but I am impressed with the productivity. (Stay tuned for a follow-up in 2024.)  And what we do know is that sales is a numbers game and the more outreach you do, the greater the opportunity for a sale.

If you’d like to learn more about this approach or if you have an organization that needs help generating leads, please reach out to One of a Kind Sales – we are experts at cold calling and we can help your team generate the sales you need.  Give us a call at 908-879-2911.

When Being Negative is Positive

I’ve written before about the benefits of getting to ‘no’ quickly. As I wrote in my last blog, the more no’s you hear, the closer you get to ‘yes.’ But you may have challenging prospects that thwart your efforts. For example, they drag their feet on making a decision, or they don’t give you much feedback, or they repeatedly reschedule meetings. A Sandler Selling Systems technique called “Negative Reverse Selling” may help.

In Negative Reverse Selling, you do the opposite of what a prospect expects. This changes the pace of the conversation and may help you uncover information that you might not have discovered otherwise.

Here’s a cold calling example: during an initial call, the prospect requests that you send them information via email. The normal approach would be to agree to send it right away.

Using Negative Reverse Selling, your response might be, “Sure, I’m happy to send it to you, but I’ve noticed that often when I’m asked to send information, it’s because the person wants to end the discussion without hurting my feelings. I will understand if this is the case –  but is this what is really happening here?”

In this scenario, the client expects that you’ll send them the information and end the call. They don’t expect you to ask about their motivations. In response, they may admit that they aren’t interested at this time. Then you can thank them and move on. Alternatively, they may confirm they’re interested but you’ve caught them at a bad time.

Negative reverse selling has three key elements. In the first – the ‘build up,’ you make a positive statement about their comment. In the second, ‘the takeaway,’ you share an observation about that comment.  In the third element, you ask a ‘question’ to confirm whether your observation is correct.  See the breakdown below:

Element Definition Example
The build up Make a positive statement about their comment or request. “Sure I’ll send this…
The takeaway Sharing an observation based on your experience. but often when someone asks, they are trying to politely end the call. I understand if this is the case,
The Question Test to see if you are drawing the right conclusion. but is this what’s happening now?”

This is an advanced sales technique that could be of use in a variety of situations. If you choose to use it you’ll need to practice and apply it strategically. This is not an approach to use for the first time in a high-stakes sale.

At One of a Kind Sales, we are experts at sales and cold calling.  We have many techniques in our “sales toolbox” to navigate through the selling process.  If you need help generating qualified leads for your business or you have a sales team that is not as efficient as you’d like, call us at 908-879-2911 to learn more about our services.  Consultations are complementary.

Should You Answer a Question with a Question?

“Answer a question with a question” is a Sandler Selling System rule that is sometimes controversial. Sales teams I’ve worked with often express the concern that using this approach could lead to them appearing evasive or “too salesy”.  But as with all “rules” you have to apply them with skill and understand the objective.

Why ask so many questions?

‘Question asking’ is how we salespeople gain a true understanding of our prospect’s needs. The objective is not to avoid answering questions but to avoid shutting down the valuable conversation that leads to a deeper understanding of the prospect and their specific situation.  Without this understanding, we may not really know whether our solution is a good fit for their problem and we may misunderstand the value that our solution holds for this prospect.

I think that we should think of ourselves as diagnosticians when we have a sales meeting.  Consider this: If you go to a doctor with a headache, she will ask questions to identify the cause. Sometimes the cause is not obvious. If the doctor just treats the symptom, it is possible that the symptom might not go away, or it could disappear in the short term, but return because the underlying cause wasn’t addressed.  Likewise, we have found that what is first expressed by some prospects as the reason they might need your solution, may only be the visible expression of a deeper issue. Solving this deeper issue is where our value lies.

So the message in this rule is that ‘question asking’ is integral to the sales process and we ought to focus on asking questions and having a conversation rather than showing that we have all the answers.  It’s good for the prospect to know that we have the expertise, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of learning as much as we can about our prospects.

Apply this rule with skill

Always use your good judgment to assess whether you have learned enough about your prospect. Take your cues from the information that you’re receiving and from how your prospect is responding to you. Open-ended questions are key to uncovering hidden problems and key motivators that may be important to your ability to successfully close the sale. For example:

  • Why is this important to you?
  • Can you tell me more about this?
  • What else happens when this problem crops up?
  • Why do you think this is happening?

If we focus on the conversation first and foremost, we will learn enough to know when it is the right time to ask our favorite question, “What would you like to have happen next?”

At One of a Kind Sales, we love selling and we are experts at cold calling, in particular. If you would like to discuss how we can help you and your team please contact us at 908-879-2911.

What to Do When They are “Thinking About It”

I was recently at a meeting about sales efficiency where a debate broke out about what salespeople should do when a prospect says, “I’ll think about it.” Participants were divided. Some felt that this meant that the selling process was not complete and they should continue to engage the prospect. Others strongly believed that once a prospect tells you “I’ll think about it,” they should move to the next prospect. I firmly believe you should move on.

As a professional salesperson, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with prospects over the years. Because I’m focused on my sales objective and the need to be efficient with my time, it’s critical to know when to move on. We all know that we should not rush to close a prospect. We all know that we should be looking for signs to disqualify a prospect throughout the discussion. When these signs appear early, perhaps it’s easier to recognize that the prospect is not a fit for our solution and end the discussion. But when the signs show up later, they can be more difficult to recognize, perhaps because we are more emotionally invested. But that verbal message, “I’ll think about it” is a clear red flag to me. To confirm whether it’s really time to move on, I might ask, “Is there anything else I can tell you?”, and if the prospect says “yes,” I will address the question. But if the answer is “no,” then it’s clearly time for me to move on.

Why move on? Continuing to sell to a person who is telling you that they need to think about it after you’ve had robust discussions delays you from moving to a prospect that you might be able to more readily convert. Frankly, “I’ll think about it” is really the kiss of death.  Experience tells me that this prospect is not likely to make a positive decision and I would be wasting time continuing the conversation.

You may be thinking, ‘well I’ve spent all of this time getting to know this prospect and I hate to let it drop.’   But that is not what you should do.  You should move the prospect into a nurturing program with a plan to revisit them at some point to see if conditions have changed.

It might be very attractive to continue discussions with someone with whom you’ve already developed a relationship in the hope that they will convert. But you really are fooling yourself. We need to be clear-eyed about what’s going on in a sales engagement. Ideally, we never ask for the sale until the time is right.  At that point, if they say they still need to “think about it,” it’s time to gracefully move on.

At One of a Kind Sales, we love selling and we are experts at sales and cold calling, in particular. If you would like to discuss how we can help you and your team please contact us at 908-879-2911.