April 22, 2019


In Brian Tracy’s best-selling book The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible, he posits “The only real creators of wealth in our society are businesses” and “salespeople are the most vital people in any business.”

Salespeople make the world go ‘round, from mom and pop shops to the Fortune 500. Even the government sells! If sales skills were improved across the board, I think society would run a bit better.

It’s not enough to learn only the mechanics (product knowledge, prospecting techniques, presentation skills, etc.) Since selling is a human-to-human activity, and we are emotional creatures, everyone who sells should devote time to learning the psychology of sales.

A good place to start for each salesperson is to understand their own personality, and for that, I suggest the best sales aptitude test I know of: the APQ. Self-examination helps sales professionals understand how to better relate to others, and is the first step in developing emotional intelligence.

When we combine insights from this best sales aptitude test with what we know from neuroscience, we can better understand buyers and become more competent salespeople. This subject is not about nefarious mind-control; it’s about making better connections and fostering deeper relationships with those we serve.

To that end, here are four important truths about the psychology of sales which will help you be more effective.

1. People decide emotionally first, then rationalize those decisions with logic. Therefore, the primary target when selling is the buyer’s emotions.

I’ve covered emotional selling in depth in this blog before, as well as in my book and videos, so feel free to dive deeper with that content. Countless other material by other authors and researchers exists out there as well, and I highly recommend you study as much as possible. But I will summarize here the most important thing to know: until you satisfy the emotional brain of a buyer, they will be incapable of making a positive buying decision. It’s just safer to remain indifferent or reject you.

So your first target is to wake up the buyer’s old, reptilian brain with things such as excitement, focusing on them rather than yourself, providing clear contrast, using strong imagery, and other stimuli.

2. The fear of loss is a greater motivator than the desire for gain. Use FOMO to your advantage.

Fear of missing out is one of the strongest motivators you can use. Buyers will often act, not because they really need your product or service, but because they feel that if they don’t they will miss a great deal.

Techniques such as announcing upcoming price hikes, two-for-one specials, free installation for a limited time, close-outs, etc. can turn tire-kickers into buyers. The caveat is that you should never use fear to unduly pressure someone into buying something which won’t really benefit them.

3. The human mind is biased towards sharp contrast and simplicity. Help buyers decide by narrowing down their choices.

Novice salespeople talk too much and bombard buyers with data, figuring that all that information about features and specs will bedazzle prospects. Sure, they will be bedazzled into complete indecision.

When it comes to choosing a course of action, the old brain prefers simplicity. Two, maybe three clearly differentiated choices are better than breaking out your entire catalog. The more options you offer, the more the buyer has to process and evaluate – and you might simply cause analysis paralysis.

As a salesperson, it’s your job know enough about the buyer to suggest what the best offering for them is, and then help them easily acquire it. Make it an easy process by limiting options.

4. You become what you think about most. Continually reinforce a self-image of success in order to be successful.

This is not some New Age hocus-pocus; the notion that self-image affects performance is grounded in hard science. It’s also rather logical and self-evident. If you project an image of success upon yourself, you will tend to adopt the habits of successful people in your work ethic, appearance, and the way you relate to others.

This might feel like “fake it ‘til you make it” at first, and maybe it is, but many successful people use affirmations and positive self-instructions to keep them on track – even when they experience failure. Their enthusiasm and confidence inspire others, resulting in a feedback loop leading to even greater success.

The best sales aptitude test, the APQ, will surface personality areas you can work on. For example, it might reveal that you are very introverted, in which case you can begin picturing yourself as gregarious and outgoing. Eventually, you will become more extroverted. This is shown time and time again to be true.

In summary, you cannot sell effectively if you do not understand human psychology. And to do so, it helps to understand your own personality first with the best sales aptitude test I can recommend, the APQ. Combine this with the latest neuroscience research, and you will be on your way towards elite sales performance.