The Psychology of Selling
Understanding the dynamics of human behavior and how to effectively approach different people are critical skills for sales professionals. Along these lines, a salesperson’s first order of business is to observe rather than react. Observation leads to selecting the right approach for each person.
Assertiveness, responsiveness, and adaptability are three dimensions of human behavior. Assertiveness and responsiveness play a role in each of four distinct behavioral styles:
- A driver requires a minimum amount of responsiveness and wants a salesperson to get to the point.
- An expressive will become enthusiastic as long as the salesperson appeals to his or her vision and goals.
- An analytical wants detailed, specific, and accurate information; otherwise the salesperson will lose credibility.
- An amiable requires a warm and friendly approach; the salesperson must take time to build rapport to achieve a trusting and mutually beneficial relationship.
An observant and knowledgeable salesperson will be able to key in on a prospect’s behavioral style and tailor his or her sales approach accordingly. Likewise, salespeople themselves will align with one of these behavioral styles. An understanding of self is as important as an understanding of others.
Adapting to Your Customer
Adaptability is the behavioral dimension that comes into play when salespeople are dealing with others, as they must adapt to each prospect’s style and potentially overcome their own styles while doing so. The Platinum Rule of “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them” takes into account that not everyone wants to be treated the same way. It should be a guidepost for adjusting the sales approach to match a customer’s behavioral style.
Becoming adaptable is a learnable skill. Adaptability is based on:
*Adjusting one’s image.
*Targeting presentations to meet others’ needs.
*Maintaining a willingness to receive feedback.
There are specific adaptability strategies for addressing each of the behavioral types. Additionally, the market now comprises four distinct generations:
- Civics (or the “greatest generation”).
- Gen Xers.
Each of these generational groups has specific values, behaviors, and communication preferences that salespeople need to be aware of and adapt to.
Understanding Customers’ Needs
Because selling value is based on understanding a customer’s wants and needs, a customer needs analysis should be performed for each sales effort. The goals of this analysis are to:
*Win prospects over early.
*Focus on needs and desires.
*See things from the prospect’s perspective.
*Gain high-quality input so as to make the best recommendation.
Listening is one of the best methods to achieve an understanding of customer needs. Taking notes is also extremely important. Whether the prospect is an individual or a large group, the overall objective is to gain information and knowledge that will lead to a proposed solution that best meets the prospects’ wants and needs.
Presenting Your Value Proposition
Communicating needs-based benefits is the primary way to create value in the prospect’s mind. Needs-based benefits are benefits that match the customers’ definitions of value and meet their needs at the current time.
Presentations that communicate value should be:
*Based on input derived from prospects’ key decision makers.
*Presented to senior executives and the right key stakeholders.
*Inclusive of specific, targeted value points and tied to the prospect’s senior management philosophy.
*Fresh, well organized, and relevant.
*Interactive and engaging.
Third-party references and testimonials inspire confidence and are excellent ways to communicate value to clients and prospects. Inside influencers (trusted individuals from outside the organization) are very useful in testing and confirming the value of a proposed solution and can help a salesperson refine a presentation.
Additionally, any references to the salesperson’s team and company should be contexted as “we” rather than “them;” each presentation should be unique; and any presentation should seek to inspire trust and ensure the salesperson has the prospect’s best interests in mind.