Psychology and Sales

Does anyone really decide to go into sales while they are in school? Or do they aspire to be a doctor, lawyer, police officer or teacher? As a matter of fact, most people just get into the sales profession by accident. I wanted to be a social worker but my grades were not high enough to get into McGill so I studied psychology and sociology instead. It’s actually a shame that there are no formal sales degrees offered at higher education levels. But the synergy between psychology and sales is remarkable. And by the way, everyone is in sales; whether you are a lawyer trying to acquire new business or a dentist looking to add new patients.

Why does someone buy a product or service? Simple. To get the good feelings they want about what they bought and about themselves. This is a direct quote from the One Minute Salesperson by Dr Spencer Johnson which is the finest book ever written on the subject of sales. Does this have anything to do with sales techniques? No. People buy products or services based on emotions and feelings, not logic or reason. I certainly didn’t buy my last  car because of the gas mileage or engine specifications. I bought it because it felt good to drive and made me feel  proud to own it. 

So psychology and sales are inextricably linked. The other principle from the book is – I have more fun and enjoy more financial success when I stop trying to get what I want and start helping other people get what they want. There are people who buy based on logic and reason but the 80/20 rule applies. They are the ones that will study a consumer report before buying a car.

People are egocentric. So when selling, make sure that you focus your discussions on what’s in it for them . Too many salespeople spend too much time talking about their products or services. Ask questions, shut up and listen. Sounds harsh but that is the key to selling. I would rather hire a shy person than a big talker because I know that they will listen.

People buy for their reasons, not yours. You can’t sell something if you haven’t established a need, opportunity or want. However, people love to buy, they just don’t want to be sold. 

And finally there’s attitude. Ultimately sales is a mental game. Most salespeople fail because they convince themselves that they can’t do it anymore. We don’t usually fire salespeople, they just quit. And we tell every new sales rep that if they work hard and stay positive they will succeed. 

So the next time your are buying a magazine or reading one online, check out Psychology Today. You will probably learn more than reading a business publication. 

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