To be an effective salesperson, you’ve got to master a few psychological techniques. Combine a measure of cultural perception, a dose of selective word choices and subtle messages, and you can close a sale with anyone, any time, anywhere. Whether you’re selling sofas to seniors, flowers to fathers or paintings to philanthropists, you must engage in methods that leave your customers feeling relaxed and proud of their purchases.
Cool it on the extrovert personality traits. According to the Association for Psychological Science, people who are overly extroverted often scare customers off. Instead, bring in the nurturing side of your personality to help clients feel comfortable and safe. Listen as much, if not more, than you talk.
Choose your words carefully to win over customers and overcome their resistance to being “sold.” They may want to buy, but they don’t want to be sold. Influence your new friends by agreeing on important issues like the size of refrigerator they need or the number of upgrades they need in their phone service. Add your own ideas to complement, not counter, their statements. When engaged in important decisions, customers are tuned in to your feedback. Even subtle remarks that hint at your disagreement or disapproval may turn customers against you.
Give your customers credit for knowing what they want, having done their homework and being able to negotiate the price they want to pay. Even though you may know they are going to make a purchase based on your recommendations and price point, you've got to make them feel like it was their idea. People who believe they have power are more confident and open about their needs. By assuming a subservient, learning role, you give them an opening to divulge their needs so you can swoop in and respond appropriately. Instead of coercing them to buy something they don’t want, you’ll be able to guide them toward what they really do desire (and what you really want to sell them).
- Embrace your losses. All successful salespeople lose a good majority of the time. In addition to being able to psych up your customers, you've also got to be able to psych yourself up to eventually nab the big ones. Professional salespeople get a thrill from the chase. Use psychological tactics on yourself to remind you that every lost sale brings you closer to success.
- Be careful when you mirror your customers’ behaviors, tones and accents. It’s easy to come off as insincere or even mocking when you partake in the psychological sales techniques of imitation. Subtle mirroring of gestures and tone of voice makes customers feel comfortable without even knowing why, but if you go too far and have to spend too much energy focusing on the effort, you’re going to turn them off and lose the sale.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."