Basics – Psychology in Selling

As there are basic reasons people buy or don’t buy, there are also psychological factors that will influence the sales effort.  Since a salesperson needs every advantage in working to gain commitment from the prospect, the following psychological rules should be observed:

  1. Maintain a positive attitude at all times; it will rub off.

If anyone asks you how things are going, tell them everything is great!  It will create a better atmosphere for sales.  You can’t afford to be sick or sad, because you must always project a positive attitude.

  1. Success breeds success.

Nothing makes you feel better than a sale.  You may have a million problems, but one sale can work wonders.  And you can build on that success, as can your fellow workers.

  1. Never wear or use the color red.

Red is associated with danger, and the color triggers the subconscious to say “stop.”  So, do not wear red clothing.  Do not use red markings on your sales material.  And for heaven’s sake, never use a red pen.  The colors green and blue are more relaxing and positive for both you and your prospects.

  1. Never wear sunglasses.

Don’t wear sunglasses either outside or inside when talking to a prospect.  The prospect must be able to see your eyes to know that you are sincere.  If the prospect can’t see your eyes, he can’t judge your facial expressions, and he may think you are hiding something.  Your eyes can also be used at times to provide a degree of intimidation, so don’t hide your eyes.

  1. Make sure the prospect gets accustomed to seeing your pen.

The prospect is afraid of your pen because it can cost him a lot of money and cause him to go back on the commitment he has made to buy.  A salesperson must get the prospect comfortable with the pen.  Lay it on the desk early in the meeting.  Use it as a pointer when you show visuals.  Some salespeople even drop then pen on the floor next to the prospect, so he will have to pick it up and hand it back to the salesperson.  I know one salesperson who is a magician.  He does a great little magic trick in which he breaks a pen in two and then makes it reappear in one piece in the customer’s hand!

  1. Don’t choose one person as most important when you give a presentation.

Sooner or later, a salesperson will be able to determine who makes the decisions in the company.  But do not make the assumption either way when you give a presentation. 

  1. Don’t ignore the ladies when you talk.

Women actually control most of the money in this country.  Don’t forget that.

  1. If you confuse them, you lose them.

Confused people just can’t make a decision.  It’s that simple.  Keep the sales presentation simple.

  1. Never touch a customer, but use your hands and fingers for emphasizing points, directing attention, etc.

Never touch a customer unless you are shaking hands.  Most people resent having someone “in their space.”  (There is another school of thought on this subject, with salespeople who feel that touching people makes them more attentive and draws them closer to you. I disagree.)  The use of gestures and pointing to direct attention are definitely needed, however.

  1. Always nod your head affirmatively.

During your sales presentation, always nod your head in the affirmative.  Convey a positive “yes” attitude to your prospect.  The prospect will often react subconsciously by nodding yes also.

  1. Always sit higher than your prospect.

When you are above your prospect, you assume a superior position.  If your eyes are higher than the prospect’s, this causes the prospect to look up to you.  Subconsciously, the prospect will be more attentive to your words. 

  1. Don’t ever complain about your prospect.

Always keep positive thoughts about your prospect.  Always assume you are going to get the sale.

  1. Bad weather means good sales.

Many people think you need beautiful weather to sell, to get the prospects into a good frame of mind.  But on a bad day, the prospect will have little else to do, so he’ll spend more time with a salesperson.  And, there will be less distractions, so the prospect will be more attentive.

  1. Don’t let the prospect get nervous during or after the sales presentation.

It’s only natural that the prospect will be nervous when you first meet.  One of a salesperson’s jobs is to gain the customer’s trust and put him at ease.  If something is said or done that makes the prospect feel nervous later – during or after the presentation, trust and the sale may be lost.

  1. Answer questions before they are asked.

Prospects are suspicious.  If they don’t understand something, there is a good chance they won’t mention it to you.  But a prospect will think about it in some negative way, and it will become an unseen obstacle to you.  To avoid this, answer everything that you feel might be a question up front or during the presentation.  Explain anything that might be a question, such as your position in the company, how merchandising services can be offered for free, etc.

  1. Never argue with a customer.

Win an argument and lose a sale.  It doesn’t matter if you are right.  Besides, if you lose the argument and get the sale, who is the winner?

  1. When selling to more than one person, stack the odds in your favor by winning over one prospect at a time.

When you are selling to a team, it’s you against them; one against two.  But when you win over one of the prospects, it becomes two against one in your favor, and the sale becomes just that much closer.

  1. Emphasize and de-emphasize monetary amounts to make your points.

For example, when you want an amount of money to sound like a lot, say “Six thousand five hundred dollars,” and write it $6,500.00.  When you want it to sound like less, say “sixty-five hundred,” and write it 6500.

  1. Never say “I’m sorry.”

Rather than say “I’m sorry,” say “I apologize,” or “Excuse me.”  You aren’t a sorry person, and you don’t want to convey that to your customer or to your subconscious mind.  Keep a positive attitude at all times, even in little things that you say and do.

  1. People like to be flattered.

Express sincere compliments.

  1. Relate to the prospect in some way.

A salesperson must get on common ground with the prospect in some way, so he will feel comfortable.  Do or say something the prospect can relate to.  It might be the type of car the prospect drives, where he is from, the number of children, where he goes to church – anything positive.  Just find something and relate it.

  1. Make the prospect feel special.

Always try to tell the prospect a secret or some new information that no one else knows.  We all like to think we know something that no one else knows.

  1. Make the prospect say “Yes.”

When you are making the sales presentation, and the customer answers questions with grunts or “uh huh’s” or with a nod of the head, stop.  Try to get the customer to say “Yes” aloud.  The prospect can then hear himself respond and his subconscious mind will be more alert to what is going on.  This can be accomplished by politely saying, “Pardon me, I didn’t hear you” or “Excuse me, what did you say?”

  1. Let the prospect know you are good at your job.

We would all rather deal with someone who is a winner, and with someone who is experienced. 

  1. Let the prospect feel like he is in control to a degree.

If the prospect feels you have had complete control, he may feel resentful.  Let him believe he is in the driver’s seat some of the time.

  1. Never ignore a negative.

Should something unpleasant happen while you are with a prospect (such as someone saying something rude), do not ignore it.  Comment to the customer; attempt to explain what happened; apologize for the rudeness.  This action will bring the prospect closer to you.

  1. Make the prospect feel special.

Build up the prospect, making him feel special and proud.  People love to be special.  Some salespeople even make fun of themselves a bit to get the prospect on the level they want.  They try to make the prospect feel superior.  Then when they ask the prospect to buy, he can’t say “No” without getting down off the pedestal the salesperson put him on.  This is a means of allowing a customer to trap himself with his own ego.

  1. Use the “mirror technique.”

When you look in the mirror and smile, the mirror smiles back.  If you frown, the reflection in the mirror is a frown.  The same thing happens with people.  A salesperson must always have a good attitude, and must convey that to his prospect.  And with practice and concentration, a salesperson can look many prospects straight in the eye and produce any expression he wants on the prospect’s face.

  1. Look out for the “hot button.”

Every prospect has a weakness.  He is well aware of it, so he will be overly protective in this area.  A sudden increase in objections or excuses from the prospect is an indication that the salesperson is about to touch on that spot.  Find the hot button, and work on it.

  1. Show friendliness to everyone you meet.

When a salesperson is with a prospect, he should be friendly to everyone he meets.  Not only is this good manners, good sense, and good business, but this will at least make the prospect feel that the salesperson is well-known and well-liked.

  1. Replace rejection words with go-ahead terms.

Use the word “when,” not “if.”

Use “total investment” rather than “cost” or “price.” Other terms that can be used in the place of “cost” and “price” are “value,” “valued at,” “available for,” “available at,” “offered for,” “offered at,” and “worth.”

Use “initial investment” rather than “downpayment.”

Use “monthly investment” rather than “monthly payment.”

Use “agreement” or “paperwork” rather than “contract.”

Use “own” rather than “buy.”

Use “acquired” rather than “sold.”

Use “consulted” or “worked out the details” rather than “sell.”

Use “presentation” or “opportunity” rather than “pitch” or “deal.”

Use “authorize the agreement” or “okay the paperwork” rather than “sign.”

  1. Prospects want what they can’t have.

The salesperson must be aware of a basic purchasing phenomenon that is true of all prospects: All prospects want what they can’t have or get.  Some salespeople set “traps” or use negative psychology to take advantage of this phenomenon.

  1. Gear the sales presentation to control your prospect.

When a salesperson talks to a prospect, he has to gear his pitch at a sharp, clear, crisp pace.  If he talks slowly and draws his words out, the prospect has to listen in a slow, relaxed manner.  While this might seem acceptable, when the salesperson asks the prospect to buy, he will automatically say, “I have to think about it.”  This happens because the salesperson unwittingly geared the prospect for a slow and relaxed decision.

  1. Be prepared when the prospect is ready to buy.

When the prospect is ready to buy, the salesperson had better have his pen and working papers at hand.  If he has to hunt for these items, this wasted time could be all that is necessary for the prospect to cool off and change his mind.  The prospect will think to himself, “If he is that unorganized about his paper work, how in the world can he possibly be organized and dependable for me as a customer?”

  1. Tell the prospect you have learned something from him.

If the prospect believes the salesperson has genuinely gained some new knowledge from him, and feels that the information is sincerely appreciated, this will build up confidence in the prospect by flattering his ego.  This will make the prospect more attentive.

  1. Go “the extra mile.”

A trick used by some salespeople when they give their presentation is to bump their head, spill ink on their shirt, or do something which will get the sympathetic attention of the prospect.  Most customers will feel sorry for the salesperson because of the misfortune and become more involved with the salesperson because of the concern.

  1. Positive emotions trigger sales; negative emotions destroy sales.

While emphasizing benefits rather than features, it is important to realize that appealing to the wrong emotions can destroy sales.  The power of the negative is enormous.  One negative can wipe out many positives.

  1. Use the senses to sell.

In addition to hearing, try to involve your prospects’ senses of sight, touch, taste, and smell.  The more senses you involve, the better your odds of making the sale.

Basics – Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills

There are 10 ways to improve your listening skills.

  1. Take time to listen.
  2. Pay attention.
  3. Fight off distractions.
  4. Watch those emotions.
  5. Persuade while listening.
  6. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes.
  7. Listen for the keys to the sale.
  8. Focus on ideas, not facts alone.
  9. Listen between the words.
  10. Give feedback.

1. Take time to listen.

Don’t feel that you aren’t selling when you aren’t talking.  You must take time to listen.

As you talk, if the buyer cuts in, stop talking and listen.  If you don’t, the prospect probably won’t hear another word you say anyway, because nothing is as interesting as what he’s wanting to say.

When the prospect asks a question, don’t be too quick with the answer.  Pause a few seconds to at least show that you are considering the question and to show that you want to give a good answer.  If you wait, you should give a better answer, and you will also be sure that the prospect has finished talking.

  1. Pay Attention.

To be a good listener, a salesperson must push his worries and plans into the background to make room for what the prospect is saying.

The customer wants attention.  He wants to be listened to.  So, give him your full attention.  Acknowledge what he says by giving some reply of word, gesture, or facial expression.

  1. Fight off distractions.

A salesperson must fight off all distractions.  The degree to which distractions keep us from listening depends upon our interest in the subject.  Since a salesperson’s paycheck depends on his success, he should be able to fight off all distractions.

  1. Watch those emotions.

A salesperson must keep an open mind.  Don’t get a closed mind because of emotional words or actions used by the prospect.  A prospect may make a really negative comment to you, but if you ask questions that lead him and allow him to get the venom out of his system, you may be able to get him thinking in a positive direction again.

Excitement can also be a problem.  The expectation of making a sale can make a salesperson over anxious, nervous, and impatient.  This can make the buyer cautious.  So, a salesperson must force the appearance of relaxation while retaining enthusiasm.

  1. Persuade while listening.

A salesperson can persuade in two important ways, by giving his obvious attention to what the prospect says, and by asking questions which probe deeper into the problem or desire.

  1. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes.

By asking questions and listening, a salesperson develops empathy with the prospect.  When you do so, you put yourself into the prospect’s shoes, and this puts you into a better position to solve his problem and satisfy his needs.

  1. Listen for the keys to the sale.

A key to remaining interested in what the prospect is saying is to ask yourself what the prospect is saying that you can use to satisfy the prospect’s needs and wants and make the sale.

  1. Focus on ideas, not facts alone.

Many salespeople concentrate too much on retaining facts mentioned by their prospects.  A salesperson must not overlook the underlying purpose or desire the prospect has.

You may have to probe with other questions to get the main idea, but this is easy to do when you realize that you must not listen for facts alone.

  1. Listen between the words.

People don’t always say what they really mean about buying or not buying a product.  A salesperson cannot take comments at face value.  He must listen for clues as to why the prospect is really hesitating, what new appeal he needs to project.

  1. Give Feedback

Different people can hear the same thing and interpret it differently.  It is often good to repeat back to the prospect the gist of what he said to see if you really understand.  This technique also encourages the prospect to reassess what he said and listen to the salesperson.  It also lets the prospect know that the salesperson is really interested.

Basics – Listening Skills Are Important to Salespeople

A salesperson spends about 70% of his waking hours in communication with others.  A study at the University of Minnesota shows that communications activity is spent as follows: 9% in writing; 16% in reading; 30% in talking; and 45% in listening.  There are courses in reading, writing, and speaking, but not much in listening.  Since a salesperson spends 45% of his time listening, he must work to improve his listening habits and skills.

Questions are important.  But it’s not really the questions that are so important; it’s the answers.  A salesperson must listen skillfully to determine the true meaning of the reply and to keep from missing important information that can lead to the satisfaction of the customer and the sale.

One of the main reasons a salesperson doesn’t do a good job of listening is that he doesn’t pay attention.  Being a good listener takes work, and many of us are too concerned with preparing what we are going to say when the talker gets through.

Another factor is that many salespeople miss the real point.  Sometimes a salesperson becomes more interested in the prospect’s mannerisms, clothes, accent, or voice, and misses what he is really saying.  A listener can also pay so much attention to getting every detail that he misses the real meaning.

Another reason is that many salespeople allow their emotions to interfere.  Emotion is a barrier to comprehension.  Emotions can make us hostile to the speaker or unduly enthusiastic.

Basics – You are a Salesperson and Sales Manager

Regardless of how long you have been selling, every salesperson needs to be reminded occasionally of what his responsibilities are in operating a sales territory.  You are a salesperson and a sales manager.  Even if you work alone, you are a sales manager in your territory – your own sales manager.

You are responsible for producing maximum revenues from the accounts located in your territory, those assigned to you, and those that may suddenly spring into existence.

You have the responsibility of holding current business, increasing business from old accounts, obtaining new accounts, serving your accounts, and selling your company as an organization.

“Serving your accounts,” not “servicing your accounts.”  Somehow the phrase “servicing an account” carries the flavor of routine checkups, phone calls, drop-in appearances rather than carefully planned “selling” calls.  Perhaps you should drop “servicing your accounts” from your vocabulary and replace the term with “selling my accounts by serving them”.

The need to assume the role of sales manager comes with the peculiarities of some businesses.  A door-to-door salesman of specialty products can use a canned sales talk, ring a lot of bells, and through sheer volume of calls, day in and day out, make a lot of sales.  There is a certain uniformity to your customers which permits routine calls, routine trips.  Many manufacturers traditionally bring out a new model each year;  a salesperson for one of these firms, then, sells the initial large orders, concentrates on his first big trip around the territory, and from that point on, follows a set schedule of “around the territory once each    month or six weeks” – and so it goes each year.

But some salespeople are confronted with little of this monotony and have few opportunities to make routine calls and routine trips.  No two accounts are exactly alike.  Their budget years differ, affecting sales call timing;  their products vary, calling for an entirely different sales approach;  at some firms, the manager can give you the order, at others he can’t give you the order, but can keep you from getting it.  Each is a separate sales problem to which you must apply your time, your ingenuity, your salesperson and sales-manager brains in order to get that precious business in your book.

Your own managers and home-office staff are eager to help you with major problems by being available for counsel and calls.  Talk to your managers frequently; keep them informed about accounts; draw on their experiences and judgment and contacts.  Yet, for every special assist they may be able to give you, you must be able to settle many more sales obstacles on the spot.  The salesperson – sales manager on the ground in the territory must be versatile enough to analyze his own sales situations and produce the solutions that will get you the business.


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Basics – You Lose Customers Every Year!

You Lose Customers Every Year!

1% die.

3% move away.

5% form other friendships.

9% are lost for competitive reasons.

14% develop product dissatisfaction.

68% quit doing business because of an attitude of indifference toward the customer by one or more persons representing the supplier!

These statistics are taken from a survey published in U.S. News and World Report made by the Rockefeller Corporation of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

You want Customers for Life, so you must be sure to always treat your customers as they want to be treated.  No one in your company must ever show indifference toward a customer!

Basics – Responsibilities of a Salesperson

Primary Sales Responsibilities

The primary responsibilities of a salesperson are fundamental:

1. Hold present volume of business with existing customers.

2. Increase volume of business from old customers.

3. Obtain new customers.

4. Serve all customers.

5. Sell your company as an organization.

Know your products.

You must be thoroughly acquainted with your products.

You must understand why people want to buy your products.

You must know and believe the basic reasons why people buy from your company.

Know what your sales kit contains. Know where important information is, and be able to put your hands on anything you need at a moment’s notice. You must have an excellent filing system. And you must have the most important information committed to memory.  These are essential responsibilities of a salesperson.

Know your customers

Know everything you can about your customers.

Know the people with each account.

Determine whether your primary contact likes to buy or be sold to.

Classify each person as to whether they are sold on your products or not. Then concentrate on their weak spots.

Know proper timing.

Knowing your accounts means knowing when a company’s fiscal year starts. When does planning begin for the coming year? Are expenditures planned, or does the company fly by the seat of its pants? Make sure you have laid your groundwork during the year. Then hit hard at the proper time.

If you know your accounts through regular calls during the year, you should know where you stand with the account. If a problem develops, you should be alert enough to detect it early.

Know which competitive products your accounts are using.

How much business is the competition getting? What other products are being used?

Know your competition.

Know what your competition has to offer. Know what the positive and negative points of each competitor.

Know what percentage of the business in your territory is going to the competition.

Know how your competition sells. Know how they react after losing some business. Understand that you can still lose business after you have been told it is yours; that’s when a good competitor will work the hardest to knock you off.

Recognize that your competition is calling on accounts while you are elsewhere in your territory. Every call must be an important selling session the impact of which will last after you have gone.

Know when a competitor is taking desperation steps to try to take business from you, so you can fight it.

Know yourself, as a salesperson.

Know how you rate in terms of sales, and be honest in your evaluation as to ability, sales attitude, sales follow-through, and the esteem or respect you have among buyers upon whom you call.

Know how expertly you sell your products, and recognize where there is room for improvement.

To have the proper sales attitude, you must have the desire to drain every last dollar from your territory and have the determination to be the top salesperson.

These are the responsibilities of a salesperson.  Sales jobs vary, so your responsibilities could vary, but basics almost always apply.

Basics – Selling is a People Skill

Selling is a people skill.

Our happiness in life depends largely upon our relationship with other people.  All of us work closely with people daily, whether in the home, in our jobs, in church or service organizations, or in our leisure hours.  Our “skill” in handling people should begin before we leave the house each morning, and we should direct each word and action until we say goodnight for the last time at the end of the day.

Studies show that selling is 15% products skill and 85% people skill.  By now, you have the basic product skill.  So, we should zero in on the part that is overwhelmingly larger – the people skills.  Closing skills are really a people-handling skill, but people skills start with just good old basic treatment of people.

SMILE a lot!!!  Be excited, friendly, and happy, and you will close twice as high a percentage.

Make sure you hear your prospects’ first and last names and that you learn them.  Then always use their first names as you talk to them.  Be sure you use their names several times, but don’t over-use them, as too many sharpie salespeople have a tendency to do.

Make friends with your prospects!  People like to buy from people they like.  We want everyone to leave saying, “Boy, those are really nice people.”

You also must get your prospects involved in what we are doing, if you can.

Believe in what you are selling.  You can get what you want from the other fellow, and make him happy about it now and in the future!

I was once told that there are three basic ways of dealing with people.  First, you can take your share right out of the middle – by force, threat, intimidation, or outwitting.  Second, you can buy your way – by coaxing or begging or indulging his whims.  The third way is to exchange what you can give for what they want – and in return, you receive your desires as well.

Human nature is the same the world over.  All of us desire certain things.  COMMON in all of us is a deep hunger for praise – the longing for approval – the desire to have someone listen – a craving for appreciation and recognition.  So, be a good listener, and use praise and recognition in talking with your prospects. (For example, you could ask to see pictures of the children and praise them. You could recognize what a fine company someone works for. You can tell a lady you really like her outfit….)

Each of us needs to be accepted by others; we want to be liked and respected as individuals.  The better our self-esteem, the better we handle life’s problems.  The person who is chronically unhappy is usually one whose self-esteem is low.  There are a lot of medical terms for this condition, but in most cases, the person’s ego simply needs support.  He needs “ego food.”

Ego is the feeling of personal worth, our dignity, our individuality.  “Ego food” would satisfy these basic desires.  Sincere praise – compliments (at any time, but particularly when not expected) – recognition for tasks well done – never appearing taller than the other person, but talking with them as equals – the act of asking permission to ask questions – and the courtesy of listening to the person’s spoken and unspoken words as he talks.  All of these are “ego food” and show the person that we are interested in him.