How to Sell to 26 Different Psychological Biases

BY Jessica Helinski
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Any sales reps out there with an interest in psychology? The link between sales and the psyche is pretty strong, and the reps who know this are the ones with a competitive advantage. Everyone is equipped with unconscious biases that affect our behavior and decision-​making. “Like it or not, these biases are part of us, so those in the business of persuasion can benefit from learning how to spot and play to them,” writes HubSpot’s Emma Brudner. She shares an impressive list of 26 psychological biases, what they mean, and how sales reps should sell to each.

One of the listed biases is the ambiguity effect. When tasked with choosing between two things, most people will go with whichever is the most familiar. “The ambiguity effect causes people to avoid options whose results are unknown or untested,” Brudner explains. One way that reps can counter this is to inform buyers about every aspect of what they are selling. Be ready and willing to answer any questions that arise or fill in any knowledge gaps.

The Bandwagon Effect is one that might be familiar; it’s the psychological pull of doing what others are doing. You can tap into this hidden desire by heavily promoting who is using your product or service. Especially in today’s world, social proof is a power tool. Make sure you are using it!

Another bias is the Optimism Bias, which can actually both help and hurt a salesperson. While prospects envisioning an improved future with what you’re selling is effective, they may also be too optimistic. This means that they might foresee their issue resolving itself without your help. To tackle this, Brudner recommends describing two clear scenarios to the buyer: One with your product/​service and one without it. This will dash any unrealistic beliefs. While doing this thought exercise, make sure to keep the buyer’s expectations clear, as well as what he or she should expect post-​sale. “Salespeople can make sure buyers aren’t wearing blinders by clearly and accurately explaining what will happen after they sign the agreement,” she writes.

These are only just a handful of examples from her extensive list. By understanding how psychology relates to decision-​making, you set yourself up to succeed no matter what the prospect’s bias.