• A grasp of how to use psychology in sales leads to understanding how people buy, which is crucial to sales success. 
  • Span the Chasm founder Randy Riemersma says we tend to make emotional decisions before validating (or justifying) them with rational thoughts.
  • Randy shares his methods for leveraging those emotional impulses in the sales process, including how to pique prospects’ curiosity, incite desire (in a SFW way), and instill confidence.

No matter how witty, charming, and attractive you are, just remember: You can’t make everyone want you. 

You’re not bacon. 🥓

You know how the smell of bacon makes you want it, and want it now? That magical crackling meat candy knows how to build desire – and urgency. Sure, it’s not the healthiest thing on the plate, but it’s the most delectable. It overrides your rational thoughts and hits you right in the feels. In bacon’s case, it’s your visceral appetite for sheer pleasure.

How to leverage psychology in sales

Sales expert Randy Riemersma thinks we can learn a lot from this crispy cured confection. He thinks the key to selling is leveraging our emotions – yours and those of your prospects.

“Those of us in B2B sales can be very good at our scientific, left-to-right sales process,” he says. “But we often miss the opportunity to have an engaging emotional process.”

On an episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Randy talks about how to sell with feelings – literally. 

As AVP of enterprise sales at MuleSoft and founder of Span the Chasm, a company that offers consulting training to help sales teams grow. He knows firsthand how understanding the psychology of buying choices can have “a radical impact on your success.” 

It’s particularly important to know that we tend to make emotional decisions first and then validate them with our rational mind, he says.

“This is a great time, especially with what’s going on in the marketplace right now, to be not only aware but very intentional with emotions in how we engage our clients and prospects,” he adds.

The EQ equation: Know + feel = do

Randy approaches every meeting with a prospect by asking himself three things:

  • What do I want them to know? (“That’s the rational side of their brain,” he says.)
  • What do I want them to feel?  (Engaging their emotional side).
  • What do I want them to do? (It’s the “know plus feel,” he explains.)
potential buyers

Salespeople, especially in the B2B world, are great at identifying the first and last questions, Randy notes.

“But here’s the deal – emotion is the rocket fuel for action.” 

Randy’s entire framework must be approached “through the doorway of empathy,” he adds. “Connecting with people human-to-human before we try to connect to them business-to-business or business-to-consumer.”

That means slowing down and assessing where they are, so you can meet them there. Along the way, you’ll create trust, and they’ll be more receptive to what you have to say.

Think about the relationships you hold the dearest. You trust and respect the people you care about. You share your feelings and experiences in an authentic way. You connect on an emotional level.

When you treat your clients (and prospective buyers) in the same manner, your relationships go from transactional to transformative. Your rapport has real substance – “which allows you to survive things that a ration-based relationship wouldn’t,” he explains.

The path from curiosity to confidence 

The first emotion to tackle is curiosity, says Randy.

“You want them to be curious about you,”  – to think, does this guy or gal know something I don’t? 

At MuleSoft, “everything we do in our sales campaigns is built on bringing a provocative point of view to the marketplace because we want people leaning in. We want them to build up a desire for what we have.” 

Emotionally, he wants them to say: Wow, Randy, you guys get it. You see a different world. I want it. 

Then he wants to help buyers tap into any sense of pain or fear they’re feeling. 

psychology of selling

“It’s like boiling a frog: if you raise the temperature one degree at a time, the frog doesn’t know it’s boiling,” Randy explains. “So many of our clients and prospects are suffering, but they’re not aware of it. We need to expose that pain for them.”

If you adapt your company’s offerings and point of view to their marketplace in a meaningful way, you “take them from pain and create the magic motivator of hope.”

Once you hold up a mirror, show your buyer their problem, and offer solutions, their hope drives desire, says Randy. 

And the next thing you want them to feel is confidence – in both you and the product.

Confidence is a must, “because risk kills all deals,” he says. “The lowest risk usually wins inside the two-yard line. You can be sexy all you want at the front end of the football field, but at the end, you’ve got to be boring – and successful.”

“Curiosity, desire, urgency, pain, hope, confidence,” he adds. “That’s your emotional plan.”

Fear play: the safety squeeze

“We live most of our lives in this emotional band where sometimes things are pretty good and sometimes they’re a little bit crappy,” says Randy.

“I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers football fan. They won; they lost. The pizza was good; the pizza was cold. My Diet Coke was cold and sparkly; it was warm and flat. We live this way 80 to 90% of the time.”

Salespeople need to reach beyond this state and “light up fear and pain,” he explains. “Because if we only sell this glorious, wonderful, delectable future, it’s too far away. It’s too abstract. They’ve got too much other crap going on.”

But if you connect emotionally with a prospect, offering a provocative point of view that’s outside their comfort zone, they’re more likely to see real problems that need urgent attention. 

“This, my friend, is value,” Randy says, going back to sales guru Keenan’s concept of Gap Selling: the gap between their current state, which has been established, and that future state of glorious wonderfulness. That’s what value is in their mind.

Until you establish a reference point – while pointing out that the current state is unacceptable – there’s no way to create value. That’s why prospects will quibble with pricing. 

If you want to seal a big deal, “create a great gap between the current state and the future state,” he argues. “That value is what they’ll monetize against.”

Think bacon 🥓

Remember how the smell of bacon gets your senses going? You start drooling. You start feeling hungry. You decide you want bacon stat. You need to create those feelings in your sales conversations about your service or product. Remember to think bacon!

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