Use Sales Psychology to Shift Buyers' Thinking

sales psychology

There’s major opportunity for sellers to tap into sales psychology to drive their success. By helping prospects reframe how they think, reps can demonstrate value more easily and navigate buyers to a purchase. According to RAIN Group’s Erica Schultz, “The best sellers do more than just close sales. They reshape buyer thinking and drive change through the value they provide.” She explains that the most successful sellers in the industry recognize and ask three vital questions that can and will inspire change:

  1. What are the buyer points of view that need to change?
  2. What are the points of view you bring to the table that buyers should consider?
  3. Why should buyers change their thinking?

These questions can help sellers tap into what will inspire buyers and help them shift out of their comfort zone.

Sales psychology: Using cognitive reframing

Before getting into how to use psychology to assist selling, it’s important to first understand the technique you’ll be using: cognitive reframing. Schultz explains it as follows:

Cognitive reframing refers to the creation of alternative ways of viewing ideas, events, situations, strategies, or possibilities for action—or really anything. In other words: driving change with ideas that matter. The reframing is how to get the change started.”

This technique is important because often, buyers can get stuck in a certain way of thinking, which can make them resistant to change, including new ideas, processes and products. This is even more so the case today, as modern buyers do their own solution-​searching and research prior to even speaking with a seller.

3 stages of driving change

Schultz explains that integrating this type of sales psychology into your process requires three stages. The first stage is disrupting their thinking. As she explains, “…buyers are resistant to change. You need to balance inquiry (asking questions) with advocacy (sharing ideas) to get them to see the gaps between how they’re thinking about something and how they should be thinking about it.”

The second stage is reframing the issue. Building on the first stage, this is where sales psychology really comes in. Now that you’ve opened the buyer’s eyes to a different way of thinking, you open the door for them to see their issue in a new light as well. They are now able to stand with you and view things through a different lens.

Finally, it’s time to direct action. This is where you present your unique solution, and because of the previous stages, the buyer will now be more receptive. But, Schultz warns, don’t pressure the buyer. Our research supports this advice, as 30% of buyers say that a pushy rep is an instant deal-breaker.

Approach this stage with patience; focus on demonstrating value and serving as a guide. For insights into boosting persuasiveness while avoiding pushiness, check out these tips.

3 questions to ask yourself

Now that you understand the sales psychology behind the process, and the stages involved, you need to personalize the technique to the buyer. Personalization is vital, as each buyer will be unique in their preferences, needs and goals. While you’ve hopefully done research already on the buyer, you can probe deeper with these questions to help you more efficiently reframe their thinking.

Schultz highlights three questions that can help reps leverage sales psychology and make the most of each of the three stages. While she goes into detail in her article, briefly, here are the three questions reps should ask themselves:

  1. What are the buyer points of view that need to change?
  2. What are the points of view you bring to the table that buyers should consider?
  3. Why should buyers change their thinking?

By asking yourself these and going even deeper with Schultz’s dive into each question, you’ll be able to pinpoint just what the buyer specifically needs to adjust their thinking. The questions encourage a closer look into the prospect’s situation, what they value, their strategies and agenda, and what influences and drives them.

Sellers can leverage sales psychology to engage with buyers on a totally different level by disrupting, reframing and directing. As Schultz points out, these tactics will set you apart from competitors while also enlightening buyers and effectively communicating your value.

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov

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 Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.