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How to Use Sales Psychology in the 5 Sales Stages

Brian Cristiano Oct 12, 2021

Working with your sales leads and prospects shouldn't be chaotic.  If it is, then something is wrong with your approach!

What's behind the all too common chaos that comes from working with prospects?

Believe it or not, but many sales reps spend countless hours learning about sales theory, but never learn any applicable skills that will help them work more effectively with their prospects!

That changes today.

We're sharing how you can apply sales psychology tactics when working with your prospects.

Each psychological tactic helps reduce the chaos that comes from working with prospects AND leads to an overall smoother sales process!

Not only that, we're making it easy on you by sharing which psychological tactics you can use in each of the 5 stages of the sales process!  In case you forgot, the sales process has 5 stages, including:

  1. Lead generation
  2. Outreach
  3. Qualifying (initial sales call)
  4. Sales Pitch
  5. Closing the deal

Apply these sales psychology strategies (most of which are different from what you may have read in Brian Tracy's bestseller, The Psychology of Selling) in each of the 5 sales stages to cut down on prospect-related chaos!

 

What is Sales Psychology

 

Sales psychology is a strategy used in sales to make prospective customers feel good.

We’ve said it many times before and we will say it again: Potential customers remember more how you make them feel and less about what you say.

Therefore, tactics that make prospects feel good about themselves, including psychological ones, are very powerful in sales. 

Moreover, sales psychology is used to make prospects feel good about themselves, and so that salespeople can close a deal!

While feeling good is at the core of sales psychology, things do run deeper than that.

Why the psychological tactics are used tells you a little bit more about how sales teams use them in their sales strategy.

 

How is Psychology Used in Sales?

 

When it comes to psychology in sales, why sales teams use it explains the how.

As we mentioned above, making prospects feel good is at the core of why successful salespeople use psychology.

But, that doesn't really tell you the whole story, as there are many other ways that you could make somebody feel good!

We've already discussed here on the Business Growth Insider before how sales psychology sometimes makes sales reps feel like they are being malicious or manipulative.  We’ve also explained why it's nothing of the sort!

In short: Sales reps need to use psychology because prospects have, what we call, the monkey mind.

The monkey mind isn't just a trait of prospects, but of every person on earth.

We can sum up what a monkey mind is based on this fact: The average human has an attention span of that of a goldfish.

That's why we use sales psychology!  

Because if we didn't, prospects would get completely lost during the sales process.

If psychology wasn't used, prospects would struggle to make the right decision for themselves because their mind can't stay focused on the solution right in front of them!

With that said, here is the how on sales psychology:

Psychology is used in sales to sway prospects into making a certain decision.  It's about tapping into their brains in order to influence their decision-making systems.

Never feel bad about using psychological tactics to sway prospect decision-making!  

You are only helping them see that you are the one with the correct solution for them.  Which, in the end, makes them feel amazing.

 

The Difference Between “High-Pressure” and “Low-Pressure” Selling

 

Do you enjoy feeling like you are being sold to?

For example, do you like going to the car dealership and getting that funny sense that the dealer doesn't give a rip about you and is just in it for themself?

Our guess is you hate being sold to, just like any normal person.

The feeling that you are being sold to is part of the high-pressure selling approach.  It's the feeling that you are being cornered into making a buying decision.  And, it's never a positive sales experience!

The opposite kind of approach is low-pressure selling.  Low-pressure selling uses psychological tactics that make prospects feel good in order to close more deals.

Moreover, sales psychology tactics fall within the low pressure selling approach.

The best salespeople go into every situation wanting to make their prospects feel at their very best.  

Because, when the customer feels good, they know that they just empowered someone else AND they got closer to closing a deal.

A low-pressure sales approach that uses sales psychology tactics results in a win for prospects and salespeople.

 

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1. Sales Psychology Techniques for Lead Generation

 

Is there anything better in sales than having leads come to you, instead of you having to generate a list of them yourself?

Probably not!

Use sales psychology to kick off the first stage of the sales process: lead generation.

Even better, start filling your sales funnel with leads by letting them come to you!  Or, at least, warming them up to who you are before you even reach out. 

Here are two sales tactics that use psychology to knock lead generation out of the park.

 

Showcase Social Proof

 

That little old thing called 'peer pressure' doesn't just disappear after high school.

Perhaps the most effective sales psychology tactic of all is using a modified version of peer pressure to get leads into the sales funnel.

In life, we call it pressure.  In sales, we call it social proof.  

Social proof is used in content marketing to show potential leads that others are taking advantage of and reaping the benefits of your business's solution.

For example, you can put out a piece of content on your social media platforms highlighting how your current customer’s lives have improved greatly after working with you!

As a result, your potential leads say to themselves... "If it worked for them, maybe it could work for me too!".  

And, boom!  You have a new lead entering your sales funnel. 

Don't think for a second that social proof is a negative, misleading, or manipulative tactic (as some would say).

If you know that your solution is excellent and will solve people's challenges, then what's stopping you from getting it into their hands?

If you need to use social proof to show leads that you've got the answers, there is no harm!

 

Mirror Your Lead’s Identity

 

Whether we realize it or not, we naturally gravitate towards people who we feel are like us.

More specifically, people who we believe act like us, think like us, or share our same values. 

While it is slightly unnerving to realize that we unconsciously gravitate towards the similar, you can use this fact to your advantage in sales.

Collaborate with your marketing team to put out content that, in one way or another, reflects some aspect of your ideal lead.

For example, if your ideal leads have a social media profile that reflects their commitment to sustainability, do the same in your own content!  You don't need to create a full-out sustainability campaign, but even one or two posts that show you have a similar ideal can do the trick.

As a result, your lead will recognize that you are similar to them, and be more likely to reach out themselves.  Or, if you make the first move, the odds that they respond increase.

 

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2. Sales Psychology Techniques for Outreach

 

Once you've got your pipeline filled with leads, you're ready to turn them into prospects by reaching out directly!

Whether they showed interest in you themselves, or this is your first time connecting, you can use sales psychology to your advantage.

Here are two of the top psychological techniques salespeople can use during the outreach stage of the sales process.

 

Reciprocity: Give Before You Get

 

Picture this: You've got your ideal leads in the bag and the perfect cold calling script.  The lead answers the phone and you manage to get a couple of sentences in.  But then... all of a sudden... the line goes dead.

How can you get leads to not hang up the phone when you cold call them?

By using sales psychology of course!

Top sales professionals understand that there is no such thing as something for nothing. 

Moreover, if you are trying to take some of your prospect's time away with a cold call, you better have something of value to give them right away in return!

For example, tell the prospect you ran an analysis on their company and uncovered an issue that you want to show them!  By doing so, you're offering value right off the bat.

What this does is initiate reciprocity.  Reciprocity is the psychological concept that, if you give something of value to someone, they will naturally want to give something back.

In this case, if you offer to show the prospects something about their company that they don't even know, they will reciprocate your generosity by setting up a formal sales meeting!

Remember... don't expect something for nothing!  Offer value during your cold call in order to get the prospect to reciprocate the favor.

 

Uproot Expectations

 

Did you know that your brain is always trying to work ahead of you?

More specifically, did you know that your brain tries to predict what is going to come next in a sequence without you even realizing it?

A good example of that is this sentence: While you are unconscious of it, your brain is currently trying to predict what the next word in this sentence will be before it even comes.

A real-life example is this: "And they all lived miserably ever after."

We guarantee that your brain wanted to see "happily" instead of "miserably", and was a bit taken back when it didn’t see “happily”!

Sales reps can use this think-ahead strategy of the brain to their advantage.  Here's how:

When you are writing out a sales cold email... uproot what the prospect would expect you to say.  Find some way to flip your language!

When the brain's expectations are uprooted, it remembers that moment long into the future.

Moreover, uprooting expectations is a tactic used for staying memorable!  

And, being memorable is a sales psychology tactic in it's own right.  The more memorable you are, the more likely the prospect is to see you as an authority in their domain.

 

3. Sales Psychology Techniques for Qualifying

 

By this point, you've already made a pool of successful leads, reached out to them, and got them to agree to an initial sales call!

Awesome.

Keep the psychological momentum going as you qualify them as a solid fit for your solution.

Remember, the goal of this stage is to both figure out the prospect's pain points AND start building rapport.  Successful salespeople do both of those things using these psychological tactics:

 

Creating an Illusion of Control

 

In order to figure out the prospect's pain points, you need to ask them the right questions.

However, asking questions unfortunately has a negative side effect: It makes the prospect feel like they are at a loss for control over the situation.

When the prospect feels like they don't have any control, they are more likely to feel undermined and head for the door.

What if there was a way for you to get the information you needed without asking questions?  As it turns out, there is!  These negotiation tactics do just that.

While these are negotiation tactics, they are actually designed to get the prospect talking about their problems without you having to ask any questions at all.  Moreover, they have the same effect as questioning. 

As a result, you get the information you need AND they feel more in control of the situation. 

When you make prospects feel in control, their self-esteem goes up.  They will feel empowered by you, instead of trampled by you.

 

FOMO

 

It's a term popularized by social media that has widespread application: FOMO.

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is a feeling that we get when we think that we will lose out on something positive if we don't buy a certain product or service.

For example, a company selling CRM services can use tactics to make you feel that you will miss out on having the perfectly organized sales process unless you buy from them. 

While we are still in the stage of qualifying the prospect, it's never too early to start building up a sense of FOMO.

Sharing a case study is an extremely effective tactic for getting prospects to feel some FOMO.

At the very end of your initial sales call, share a case study with your prospect.  It will start to build up a sense of FOMO inside of them.

As a result, they will be more ready to move forward into the next stage of the sales process.

 

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4. Sales Psychology Techniques for the Sales Pitch

 

Finally, you've made it to the sales pitch!  Unless your sales cycle is very drawn out (which we don't recommend), this is the last step before a purchasing decision is made!

The pitch is your time to shine. If you feel like you haven't had the opportunity yet to show the prospect all the value your solution has to offer, this is it!

Use sales psychology during sales pitches to show prospects that you are the one who can turn all of their problems into strengths.

 

Create a Storyline Out of the Customer’s Needs

 

Why do people buy the things that they buy?

Straight-up: People buy products or services that fit an internal narrative of theirs.  A narrative is better known as a story!

Facts tell, stories sell!

It is your job in the sales pitches to create a storyline around your prospect's problems.  In the story, the prospects are the superhero and your solution is the magic potion that can help save the day.

Stories satisfy the emotional desires of prospects.  Which, at the end of the day, are the root of their buying decision.

In order to create an effective storyline, you need to think BIG!  Here's exactly how to turn every one of your pitches into an epic story that prospects can't resist.

While it might sound crazy at first… if you don’t create an effective storyline, your sale will sink.

 

Dress the Part

 

While this might seem like an obvious one, you should show up to your sales pitches dressed as the person you want to be.

Which, hopefully, is a successful salesperson!

Even if you don't feel like you're the best at the moment, show up as if you are.

Dressing the part of a successful salesperson adds an additional layer of storytelling onto your pitch.

It also makes you feel at your absolute best.  And, when you personally feel great about yourself, you literally emit positive energy that prospects pick up on.

That positive energy taps into their minds, and gets them to lean into your pitch even more.

In the end, dressing the part reinforces your role in the story, makes you feel good about yourself, and changes the aura of the sales pitch for the better.

 

5. Sales Psychology Techniques for Closing the Deal

 

While the sales pitch might feel like the end of the process, there is still time for you to lose your grip on the sale when you attempt to lay the deal on the table.

In fact, closing the deal is often the most catastrophic phase of the entire process because it is the most nerve wracking!  But, it doesn't have to be that way.

Use these top sales psychology tactics at the very end of the sales process to keep control of the situation until the bitter end!

 

Cut Options Down

 

How many times have you walked into an ice cream store, approached the counter, and been blown away by the number of flavors available?  They've got everything, from the basics to flavors you've never even heard of.

Before you know it, you've been standing at the counter for more than five minutes and you still can't make a decision.  Not only are you getting frustrated, but so are the people behind you!

While your business is probably way different than an ice cream store, the same thing can happen to your prospects if you give them too many options... they'll actually get overwhelmed and their experience will go downhill.

Believe it or not, but the more options we have in life, the more likely we are to have a negative experience or walk out on the situation.

With that said, when you lay your deal down on the table, don't give your prospects very many options to choose from in terms of how they receive their deliverable!

A good benchmark number to go off of is 3.

You may think that you are helping your prospects by giving them more options, but you are actually doing the opposite.

Stick to the rule of 3 so that your prospects don't start to develop negative feelings right before the sale is about to close!

 

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Create Limited Time

 

So, your offer is now out on the table, but your prospects are hesitating.

That long, palpable silence begins to fill the room.

You thought the prospects would be jumping out of their seats screaming 'YES', but they're quietly sitting back in their seats contemplating what they should do.

Even worse is that you've done everything right up until this point!  But now, you start to feel the sale slipping out of our grasp.

In order to prevent this situation from ever happening to you, create a sense of urgency in the prospects when you lay out the terms of the deal.  By urgency, we mean make them feel like they will lose out on something if they don't take you up on your offer then and there. 

One of the most effective ways to create a sense of urgency is to give your prospects a 'special offer', in which you throw an extra perk or two into their deal if they're ready to sign the papers then and there. 

By offering a little something special for only a limited time, they get a slight nudge from behind that is enough to make them say 'YES!'.

 

Final Thoughts on Sales Psychology in the 5 Selling Stages

 

How can you become successful in sales if you don’t understand how to work with people?

The truth is, you can’t!

Prospects are at the very center of the sales process, but we often forget to train sales reps on how they can work with them.

That stops here and now.

Get your entire sales team in on using sales psychology in each stage of the sales process to cut back on prospect-related problems AND initiate sales growth!