Upon joining my first sales job out of college I soon learned that I was not a natural persuader. Fortunately my mentor, Gary, was and I took his sales leadership to heart. He was a genuine, honest salesman who had been in the business 7 years when I started. Throughout my first year I took thorough notes on what and how he sold our product, and ways in which I could make them my own. Note the following list merely states what they are without going into long detail. This way I can cover more of them and you can do further learning afterward.
My 7 must-have sales principles of influence
1) Trust: This principle works alongside another one that did not make the list, which is belief. It essentially boils down to having faith in what you’re recommending. Once you have their trust is easy work from then on. I put this first since it represents the foundation of all sales and sales relationships.
2) Emotion: People remember how they felt long after what you told them. Peak sales people and professionals invite prospects along a journey involving stories which evoke an emotional response. This causes prospects to associate pain with their current state as well as the future if they fail to take the sellers advice. Likewise, the stories provide pleasure feelings when considering life with the intended product.
3) Stepping Stones: I have always like the famous sales idiom: “once they agree to the link, they bought the whole chain.” While this is not always true, it garner strong validity and helps to explain the stepping stone theory to selling. Never expect someone to buy right out of the gate. View sales as a gradual process of getting small commitments or buy-ins. The more they agree the first couple stones, the more likely they’ll buy the big rock at the end.
4) Justification: Customers buy in their hearts and justify in their heads. My second principle of emotion is just the first half. Throughout or after the emotional journey you must also provide concrete facts supporting the “yes” decision. They often retain these facts when justifying their purchase to their peers.
5) Involvement: Explaining all the features and benefits of your product while you’re both motionlessly seated is a weak approach. Psychology supports increased understanding, ownership, and passion when a customer has a hand in the presentation. Involve your prospects and they’re more likely to see themselves as part of the solution.
6) Inclusion: No one likes the feeling of being left out. We all want to be included in the larger group, so start employing this principle by having your prospect wanting inclusion with your current clients. This principle is related to envy, social proof, or consensus. The more a product is effective in meeting a similar demographic’s needs, the more your customers wants in on it.
7) Indifference: This is what the salesperson should convey but by achieving a balance with enthusiasm. The goal is to display fervor for your product without showing desperation. I correlate indifference with detaching emotion from the outcome. As soon as your prospect senses that you don’t absolutely need them to buy right then and there, they ironically become more interested. Balancing the opposing behavioral cues is like tuning the strings of a guitar. You’ll need to find just the right level or tension to pull your prospect forward.
These 7 sales principles of influence are universal so I encourage anyone to look for ways to employ them in their individual sales business. Much like how I learned them, I recommend picking up a good sales or persuasion book along with working under the wing of a good mentor. In time they’ll become part of your communication style regardless of whether you were born a natural salesmen or not.