The Psychology of Selling

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There are two times when salespeople are most likely to feel discouraged: when they are making no sales at all, or when they are making very few sales in comparison with their expectations. Salespeople are discouraged when they are making no sales because they feel that their time is being wasted, or worse still that if their efforts in finding prospects and in telephoning them were used elsewhere, there would be better results. This causes the salesperson to become negative toward prospecting for new prospects and in devising ways to get better results from cold calls. The second time when salespeople are most discouraged is when they are making very few sales in comparison with their expectations. This is understandable, because if the results do not meet the expectations, then there must be some reason for this that needs to be found and corrected.

The Psychology of Selling:

Every sale that is made, no matter how small, is a significant event in the life of a salesperson. This means that every sale should be treated as an accomplishment and not taken for granted. Salespeople must learn to appreciate their success, or they will find it difficult to maintain enthusiasm and continue making efforts necessary to make more sales. On the other hand, if salespeople give up when they make a few sales, the results will be the same. In selling, as in other human affairs, there is no substitute for persistence. No matter what method of prospecting or approach to customers is used it takes time and effort to make sales. There is bound to be rejection and disappointments along the way and this is where the attitude of the individual is important.

Making the sale:

The most common reaction in every salesperson is to feel pleased when a sale has been made. If this feeling is not translated into positive action, it may be wasted. Salespeople must learn to translate their good feelings about making a sale into even more efforts to find new prospects and to make more sales. They must learn that after a sale is made, they should feel encouraged and not discouraged. Salespeople should be careful in using their imagination as it can lead them into thinking of themselves as already succeeding when they have merely achieved the first step toward success. Even those who are new in selling know how to ask for an order, but it takes talent to ask for the order in a way that invites the customer to buy.

Closing the sale:

The word “close” has several definitions according to Webster, but when used in sales it means only one thing – closing the sale. Close is a term which really does not mean anything by itself, because every sale is closed at some time or other. The problem for the salesperson is to be sure that the prospect understands what he is being asked to buy before he feels driven to make a decision. Asking for an order too soon may result in rejection. A good definition of closing, says Gossage, calls for asking questions until there are no more questions to be asked. It means that the salesperson is sure that before an order is accepted, there are no misunderstandings or doubts in the mind of the prospect.

Handling Objections:

The price objection comes up in most selling situations; therefore it should be an easy one for a salesperson to handle. Most objections are excuses for not buying and no salesperson should be surprised or feel hurt when he hears them. He must learn to expect objections and prepare himself to handle them properly. There are many different reasons why a prospect may say “no”, but the real reason is usually because of fear, doubt, lack of interest or misunderstanding. The main point in handling an objection is not to argue with the prospect, but to find out why he says what he does.


The other side of an objection is that it can be converted into an opportunity if salespeople continue to make efforts, even though prospects say “no”. There are two major reasons for persistence in selling: first, prospects change their minds; second, courage builds up even though the salesperson has been turned down. A sale is really made when a customer buys because he wants to buy, not because of any pressure that was exerted on him by the salesperson.

Planning for Sales:

Many people say they will start saving money next year or the first of the year. When a person in sales makes a target of how many prospects he will call on per week or month, he is merely planning financially when he will have to pay his bills at certain times during the coming months. Salespeople may not only save money by making plans for each day and each week, but they can also save their own time and energy by arranging their selling schedules to get the most out of each hour.

Making a Sale:

A sale may be made in many different ways, but two basic terms should help any salesperson break down his selling activities: direct approach and indirect approach. The direct approach is often necessary, but it does have its limitations when the product is one which is not sold through advertising. When advertising is used, the indirect approach may be more effective for contacting the prospect.

The Telephone as a Sales Tool:

The telephone has become an important tool in business and industry; however some people are either too busy or else they feel it is more efficient to use written letters rather than to talk over the telephone. A good salesperson should not only recognize the importance of using this tool effectively, but he should also learn how to use it in selling. There are some advantages and disadvantages of using the telephone for selling; however it is clear that writing letters is no longer enough; telephoning is necessary.

A Case History in Salesmanship:

A case history in selling is one in which the student follows a specific selling situation or incident through to conclusion, recording each step in the process. The case record should show what would be done if it were really taking place and who would do it. Scripts for practice sessions may be used by people who are not good speakers, but good selling depends on good speaking. The case history should be conducted in such a way that the student can learn from experience rather than merely memorizing what someone else would do under given conditions.

Preparing for Sales Calls:

A brief outline of each sales call should be made before the salesperson leaves for his appointments. Every sales call is different, but studying the product and company before meeting with the prospect can help in selling. The salesperson should establish what he has to do when he gets there; then follow through with his plan for action once inside the prospect’s office. The outline should be well organized and set up in such a way that it will not take too much time in actual presentation. The outline will also make it easier for the salesperson to be more efficient and productive when in the field making sales calls.

The objectives of preparing for a sales call are:

1) To gain interest on the part of prospects after seeing samples, catalogs or hearing an explanation of what is being sold;

2) To communicate information about the product or service being offered;

3) To overcome doubt and fears on the part of prospects if they have any.

Methods of Selling:

The two basic methods of selling include:

1) Personal Sales – a method in which a salesperson has complete control over all steps from beginning to end.

2) Agency Sales – a method in which an agent makes the presentation and runs the risk of getting the order; if he gets it, he will get the commission. An agency salesperson has no control until after he gets his name on the dotted line as an order taker.

A Survey of Sales Methods:

The four methods of selling include:

1) The Straight Commission System – a method in which the salesperson gets paid on every sale; no matter what size; all he needs is enough margin to meet expenses.

2) The Drawing Account Plan – a system for commission drawing accounts, in which the company sets up allowances to be used by the salesperson for home office and traveling expenses.

3) The Straight Salary Plan – a method in which a set salary is paid the salesperson, regardless of how much he sells.

4) The Hybrid System – a system which combines elements from two or more of the above systems. In this plan, the company sets up allowances to be used as a draw against commissions.

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Methods of Handling Objections:

There are three methods to handle each objection that the prospect might have:

1) The Way It’s Always Been Done – a method in which you ask the prospect what he means by this statement and then go into a great deal of detail about why his statement is true. Do not argue with the prospect; just ask questions that will lead him to the point where he will say it isn’t so, which means you have broken down his reason for not buying.

2) Spontaneity – a method in which you say, “I’m sorry I don’t know what you mean.” Then pause, wait for the prospect to explain – if he doesn’t, ask questions. A salesperson should never argue over an objection because it takes away his control of the sales interview.

3) Good Answer – a method which uses what is called “The Polite ‘No'” in which you say something like, “I’m sorry but that is not what I had in mind.” Then go into detail about why you can give the prospect exactly what he wants.

A Survey of Sales Closing Methods:

The four methods used to close sales include:

1) Direct Close – a method which is used when there are no objections raised. This technique requires that the salesperson lead the prospect toward the desired conclusion step by step until he has no choice but to buy.

2) The Roundabout Close – a method which is used when a prospect raises an objection that is based on a misunderstanding of some kind, or when there are several prospects in the group and it takes one more convincing than another person.

3) The Warning Close – a method which uses the same techniques as the direct close, but includes a statement such as, “I don’t want to scare you, but…” before selling.

4) The One-sentence Close – a method of closing in which the salesperson immediately states his price and terms.

Methods of Making Sales Presentations:

There are three basic methods of making sales presentations:

1) The Silent Method – a technique in which the salesperson waits for the prospect to ask questions or make comments. He does not talk unless he is asked to. This method requires that the salesperson know his product so well that he can answer any question without giving away all the advantages of his product.

2) The Question-and-Answer Method – a method in which the salesperson reads all questions and answers them before asking the prospect to buy the product. This is also called question pitching because you are pitching your product by answering questions that are asked of you.

3) The Reading Method – a method of presenting a product by reading from a script, which is written for the salesperson, telling him what to say. Most of us have been subjected to this type of presentation. In some cases it works if the person making the presentation has personality plus, but most of the time it doesn’t work at all.

Methods of Closing Sales

There are six methods of closing sales:

1) The Assumptive Close – a method of selling in which the salesperson assumes that the prospect is going to buy. It requires that you know your product so well that you can assume positive results, and it calls for excellent questioning techniques so you can find out exactly what it is the prospect wants to buy.

2) The Necessity Close – a method of closing in which you sell the prospect on the idea that he needs your product because something is not right about what he has now, or because it will solve his problem.

3) The Tie-Down Close – a method used when the salesperson cannot think of how to overcome an objection, or finds that he cannot close the sale. If the salesperson finds himself in this position, he should ask for permission to return later. The way to make it seem like you are not pressuring them is by saying something like, “Perhaps we can take care of your problem right now if we work at it together.” Then, when you leave, let them think about it and discuss the offer with others.

4) The Competition Close – a method in which the salesperson tells the prospect that there is a limited supply of an item and that he must buy right now if he wants to take advantage of this opportunity.

5) The Psychological Close – a method used when you manage to make the prospect feel like he is getting a good deal even though you are selling. For instance, if your prices are higher than other companies in your industry but you offer better service, more selection and prompt delivery, then people who buy will believe they’re getting a good deal.

6) The Summary Close – a method of closing which is used at the end of a sales presentation and in which you say, “In summary…,” and then go on to recap what has been discussed.