Today’s post is by David Hoffeld, CEO and Chief Sales Trainer at Hoffeld Group, a science-based sales training, coaching, and consulting firm. For more information, visit www.HoffeldGroup.com.
Over the past 50 years, there have been numerous scientific studies that have classified how the human brain is wired. Through this research, scientists have identified the behaviors that trigger influence.
This science is relevant in selling because it provides insights that guide salespeople in behaving in ways that enhance their ability to sell. Though there are many science-based behaviors that could be shared, the following are three that are easy to execute and will improve sales effectiveness.
Labeling is when one person assigns a label to another person and then requests behavior that is consistent with the label. There have been many research studies verifying that labeling increases compliance with persuasive requests.
In one such study, behavioral scientists asked citizens about their previous voting behaviors. The researchers randomly told some of the participants that they were above-average citizens who are extremely likely to vote. The rest of the participants were told that there was only an average probability that they would vote in future elections. When the behavioral scientists analyzed whether the participants voted in an upcoming election, they found that those who had been told they were extremely likely to vote actually voted at a much higher rate.
When salespeople label prospects, they are priming those prospects to behave in ways that are consistent with the label. For instance, if a prospect is reluctantly answering a salesperson’s questions and that salesperson says, “You really know a lot about this issue. I appreciate your insights and willingness to answer my questions,” the prospect will become more responsive.
Why do prospects feel pressured when salespeople attempt to create urgency?
The answer is found in a powerful scientific principle called reactance. Reactance refers to the feelings that occur when people perceive that their ability to freely choose is being restricted. When this occurs, they will instinctively desire to rebel against what is being imposed upon them.This is why signs that say, “No littering” or “Don’t litter” have been shown to actually increase littering.
Salespeople who want to increase sales effectiveness must understand reactance because, when attempting to advance the sale, reactance will often be activated. This is detrimental – when prospects feel reactance, they will reject both the salesperson and the salesperson’s message.
The key to minimizing reactance is to reduce the prospect’s perception that you are pressuring him or her. One example of this is found in a fascinating research study identifying that – when asking for funds – compliance rose by 400 percent when the request concluded with the statement, “Of course, it’s up to you.”
3. Tag Questions
How do you guide your prospects in thinking through and affirming the central value propositions upon which the sale is built?
Numerous scientific studies have validated that one way to promote the contemplation of a statement of value is through using tag questions. Tag questions are value building statements that are converted into questions. These questions have been proven to amplify the persuasiveness of sales messages because they guide prospects in mentally digesting and verbally appraising an assertion of value.
To construct a tag question, simply add a concise questioning phrase to your value proposition. For instance, the statement, “This software would reduce your operational costs annually by $300,000” evolves into the tag question, “This software would reduce your operational costs annually by $300,000, wouldn’t it?”
In summary, science has identified the causal factors that create and enable influence. When salespeople align how they sell with this science, their sales effectiveness will skyrocket. This is why merging science with the sales process is a concept that is just too important to ignore.
To learn more about merging science with the sales process, watch my video below.