The Psychology of Selling

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Sales psychology is defined as, “a type of process that involves considering the psyche of your target market to sell your products and services. Instead of convincing customers, they need your product or service, you find a way to market to their current needs and wants. There are different ways that individuals buy products.”

This leads to the question, what differentiates a good salesperson from a great salesperson? Both are great at selling, have the tact and skill to sell to customers however there is one key component that sets them apart.

As mentioned in A Sales Guy article, a good salesperson is focused on “selling”, whereas a great salesperson uses a customer-centric focus and is more invested in the who, what, when, where, and why things are happening with the customer’s business.

In short, sales psychology involves getting inside the mind of your customer and viewing the sales process from their vantage point. What type of experience would they enjoy? What problems do they have? By answering those questions, you will be headed in the right direction towards building a customer-centric experience.

This article will discuss the many ways sales reps can adopt the customers' mentality in order to increase sales, build lasting quality connections, and empower customers to purchase the right solution for their needs. 

Why Do People Buy? 

Approaching the sales process with a customer-centric focus will influence how you talk, listen, communicate with the customer, and can have a lasting effect on their experience. Getting inside the mind of a customer involves thinking like them to understand what will drive them to spend money on your product or service.

When a customer is interested in your product, they are motivated by one of the two reasons: to alleviate pain and/or produce more satisfaction (source). Customers are driven by desire, which is typically formed by a negative experience.

The most critical part of the sales process happens during the qualifying phase. It’s the most optimal time to engage with prospects using open-ended questions to discover their emotional reason for wanting your product (source). Once you’ve identified their reason, use it as your North star to help demonstrate how the product or service can solve their problem.

Be Empathetic 

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand the feelings of another. While the main idea behind the sales process is to drive more revenue, it’s important to remember that you are interacting with a human being with emotions.

As a sales rep, your job is to articulate the value of a product or service to a customer in need, however how you do that matters. Leading with empathy will enable you to understand the customer’s unique experience and perspective on an emotional level that cultivates trust (source).

In fact, 53% of customer loyalty is driven by the sales experience (source) affirming that using empathy as the foundation of your sales approach will play a vital role in your success.

Mirror Your Customer

Mirroring is a subconscious process that, when done properly, can lead to successful selling. When you mirror your customer, you are adopting their gestures, speech pattern, or behaviors which allows the customer to see themselves in you. With time, mirroring leads to feelings of similarity, and a friendly harmonious relationship.

The most effective way to practice mirroring while engaging with customers is to use their language. Repeat what you’ve been told, explain the product, and especially ask questions using the same jargon as them (source). Doing so will let the customer know they are being seen and heard. Remember, the customer is always the point of focus, even in the most subtle ways.

Don’t Assume - Always Ask 

While the sales process involves a lot of talking, the focus should be just as - if not even more - stressed on asking the right questions. Whether it’s during negotiations or conversations, the focal point should be on the customer. What are they telling you about who they are and what they want?

Customers have a story to tell, so it’s important to listen more than you speak. Even if you know the customer is in need of a new product/software, be prepared to ask strategic questions that reveal more about their why. Open-ended questions will prompt customers to share more of their story.

Using the 5 W’s: ‘who’, ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ questions, will prompt customers to divulge meaningful and lengthy responses (source). More often than not, customers are willing to share information about their frustrations, likes, and dislikes but only when they are prompted.

What Does Success Look Like?

What a sales rep may define as success can vary from what success means for the customer. B2B sales are typically lengthy and involve various stakeholders at different levels who each will have different involvement in the product (source).

Sales reps that take time to develop an intentional sales approach that addresses each specific customer's needs can greatly impact the buyer's decision. Having your customers' best interests in mind involves creating unique materials and assets that will help the customer sell the product to their internal team.

Understanding what success looks like for your customers' role and their entire organization will reassure them on the product value and can guarantee their emotional and functional needs are met

The Art of Suggestion and Influence

In the negotiation stage, the power of suggestion can have a positive impact on closing the sale. Psychologically speaking, using suggestion is a powerful way to guide the thoughts, feelings, or behavior of another person. These few examples will definitely add value to your sales efforts.

Client Testimonials

Products or services hold more validity to prospects when there are client testimonials. Customers tend to lean in on customer success stories, social media, or anyone who's had experience with your product in order to deem it worthy of purchasing. In fact, customers are 92% more likely to purchase after reading a reputable review or opinions on it (source).

Can you create FOMO? 

Naturally, humans enjoy being in groups of people that share the same interests or values as them. It can evoke feelings of togetherness, belonging, and confidence. The only problem is, when those feelings aren’t aligned, it can create a feeling of social exclusion.

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a prime example of that phenomenon. While it can be seen as a negative in regards to social gatherings, the sales world sees it as an opportunity to capitalize on loss aversion (source). Chances are your customer will feel left out if they miss out on that promotion or free upgrade when it’s offered to them. When used correctly, it can be a very strategic move to close a sale.  

Think about the Buyer Experience

During the prospecting phase, your customers will have questions about your product’s usage, user experience, and compatibility. It’s normal for customers to test drive the product before committing, however, by encouraging a customer to test the product beforehand improves the buying experience.

There has been research conducted on buyer experience that delivering a great experience to prospective buyers has the biggest impact on whether or not they will buy something from you (source). 


“Only 14% of B2B companies are customer-centric, and a lot of that is because they don’t try to get inside the mind of the B2B buyer.” (source)

It is clear that customers are humans that are looking for very human experiences, especially during the sales process. Training sales reps to think like the customer and individualize each customer experience so that it addresses their problems will greatly increase your chances of building rapport and ultimately closing more deals.

Incorporating practices that prioritize a customer-centric focus in addition to being emotionally engaging will only increase your likelihood of closing quality sales and the chances of creating long-lasting partnerships.

Bonus - Downloadable Worksheet

Want to structure a more customer centric buying process?

The team at Airborne has put together a worksheet that you can download and use straight away.

Customer experience worksheet