What has psychology got to do with sales?

Written by Izzy McLean-Thorne on 31/03/2021

It’s a common assumption that salespeople are simply extroverted and assertive, but in fact there is a deeper psychology behind selling that creates a sales mindset which sells products and services faster. Psychologists and salespeople have much more in common than you might think.

As a standard, people often compare athletes to salespeople.  They’re competitive, have a strong work ethic, and are driven to succeed. You often see a sales floor comprised of a majority of athletes with competitive natures.

What is less commonly spoken about, mainly as their goals are so fundamentally different, is that the similarities between psychologists and salespeople is even more significant. While a psychologist's goal is to help another person with no personal gain, a salesperson's goal is to close deals primarily for a monetary benefit.

However, after examining the underlying principles, techniques, and traits that each profession has, you discover a range of similarities. Given these analyses, hiring salespeople who possess traits of a psychologist will have a hugely positive impact on your business.

The predominant source of a company's revenue and overall growth relies largely on the ability of its salespeople to effectively generate leads and execute deals. This is why it has become increasingly important for companies to find, recruit, and hire top salespeople and be able to distinguish them from less competent ones. 

So, what are these key traits?

Firstly, salespeople and psychologists have the inherent ability to build empathy, as both must be able to build empathy with prospects and clients. There is huge importance placed on psychologists being able to build trust and empathy with their clients to be successful. Finding a salesperson who also has the ability to connect, build relationships, listen, and build rapport is important for a company’s culture and success.

Secondly, both professions have the ability to listen and be naturally inquisitive. Listening really is the most important part of any sales process, as it enables you to ask provoking questions and get your prospect speaking. For psychologists, listening is the core of their profession. They are able to extract their clients’ views and solve problems by asking questions and listening closely.

Thirdly, problem-solving skills are a must to logically reason and be able to turn any rebuttal into an answer. Good salespeople never take ‘no’ as the final answer, instead they work their way around any objection. They have the ability to create a bridge between problem and solution, understanding coherently the path they must take to make this work. Likewise, psychologists often run into unexpected problems and need to adapt and re-frame quickly in order to work through certain issues.

Finally, patience and emotional stability are core qualities. Salespeople need to nurture leads and move deals forward over the longterm, as demanding a sale too early can ruin the end result or negatively impact the overall deal. For psychologists, patience really is the name of the game. When clients express frustration, anxiety or fear, it is critical that both psychologists and salespeople alike stay calm. For either profession, breaking character can lose the trust of the client.

In Brian Tracy’s book The Psychology of Selling, he explains that businesses are the only real creators of wealth in society and that salespeople are the most vital people in any business. They really are the core of business growth, without them even the largest and most sophisticated companies would shut down. Salespeople really are worth serious thought and investment when it comes to recruiting.

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