How to Sell Using Common Human Behaviors

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“People are not rational.” This is how Entrepreneur contributor Ted Chong begins a recent article that discusses the relationship between sales and human behavior. While it sounds harsh, Chong doesn’t say it to offend. Even though every prospect is different, it’s likely they will all share at least a few common traits. It’s up to sales reps to know these traits and understand how they can affect the prospect’s buying decisions.

He shares five insights into human behavior that you, as a salesperson, can use to guide your own sales strategy:

People will do more to avoid loss than to gain pleasure.

A lot of salespeople focus on selling to a prospect’s desire for success. But, as Wong points out, research shows that typically people’s fear of loss is strongest. So, what can you do to pry a prospect away from their safe current situation? Wong suggests offering free trials, which present no risk to the prospect. “Once they start incorporating your solution in their lives, loss aversion will work in your favor,” he explains. “It becomes hard for them to stop using your solution, so they will pay to continue using it.” Money-back guarantees can also be effective ways to dampen their worries about loss.

People are interested in themselves.

Whether you want to admit it or not, humans are generally driven by self-interest. Reps need to recognize this and make sure they are basically selling to others’ egos. “Seek to understand the needs of your audience and convince them based on their need, not yours,” he explains. Uncover the prospect’s own needs, wants, fears, and goals, and then use those to craft your approach. Rather than spend the time touting your own success, focus on the prospect.

People are lazy.

Or, in nice terms, people prefer instant gratification. This explains why so many people try the infamous get-rich-quick tricks. And as a salesperson, you should tap into this, but for a more beneficial purpose and strong business relationship. “We can design our sales process to make it insanely easy for people to make purchases,” Wong suggests. “On top of that, we can limit the choices we offer to customers to increase sales.” Fewer decisions and options simplifies the process, making it easy for the prospect to buy. Even better, customize one or two options to make buying even simpler.

Understanding basic common traits will help you understand the people you are selling to and what makes them buy. Adjust your strategy to complement your prospects’ behaviors, and you’re more likely to close deals.

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel and Media Sales Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.