This article provided sound insight into the psychology of selling in 1989. In fact much of it is applicable today. After all, people haven’t changed much in the last 34 years. However, sales theory has.

The salesperson’s role today is, we are told, to solve problems, a better alternative to just changing peoples’ behavior most professionals agree. Beyond that, AIDA, most often replaced by the “sales funnel” in marketing discussions, is still a solid sales theory.

By Bruce Witwer
Witwer & Associates

“The Psychology of Selling” sounds pretty heavy, doesn’t it? Don’t let the title scare you. We’re talking about understanding selling. As a professional speaker and sales trainer working with companies all over this nation, my experience has taught me that most salespeople learn how to sell by trial and error, relying on their instincts. It stands to reason that if we study the science of selling we’ll get better and smarter. It’s worth a try because if better is possible, good is not enough.

If we are to understand selling we need to understand the salesperson’s role. We believe it’s to persuade or affect the way another person (the customer) will behave. Salespeople affect behavior internally, helping others change. Once we affect behavior, we can change action.

To affect behavior we have to understand why people so what they do. There are several areas to look at but this month let’s examine perception. We’re talking about the perception the customer has of the salesperson.

When we’re in front of the customer there are literally thousands of sensations per minute that he or she is processing. They eyes, ears, nose, every nerve is sending messages to the brain which processes all of this and then tells the prospect how to behave.

Your smallest gesture, say a yawn, is observed and then translated based on how the customer has been programmed (what has been learned). Most of the processing is subconscious. Since we can only concentrate on one thing at a time, we develop a sophisticated filtering system to filter out those sensations that we perceive as not being important. This system is a product of the customer’s attitude, value, feelings, and needs. The ability to concentrate is controlled by the efficiency of the filtering system.

Customers’ minds wander. It’s like turning a radio dial scanning for a strong signal. The salesperson has to be that strong signal, otherwise the prospect will keep wandering and the signal will fade. That’s not what we want to happen.

Think of A.I.D.A. which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. If you don’t get someone’s Attention, you obviously can’t get Interest to create Desire and Action.

There are a number of ways to hold and keep attention. Here are a few you should find as helpful reminders.
Use intensity or size. An example would be the opening ceremony of the Olympics. In sales, you might say, “I’m here today to save you X dollars.”

Another great attention getting device is novelty. What you sell is new, different, offered in six colors. How about incongruity, meaning something that is not expected, a surprise. “The best part of our proposal is the price.”

You can also grab attention by repetition. People often don’t remember, so say the same thing in a different way.

What we need to do is paint the customer into the picture. You do this by addressing their needs and involving them in the entire sales process.

Selling is simple, it’s just not easy because everybody is different. If you believe that, you’re on your way to much success. Best wishes. FBN

To read more articles from the January 2024 edition click here.