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Psychology in Sales – Using influence the right way!

Justin Vanhartingsveldt

By: Justin Vanhartingsveldt, Co-President & Co-Founder, SalesEvolve

Recently my business partner, Mark Wolters, wrote a couple of articles that are more Psychology centric. Studying psychology is a fascination of mine. I’ve always felt that Psychology should be well understood by people that choose a career in sales, marketing and business. Psychology is defined as the study of mind and behavior. It stands to reason that understanding how people make decisions, what influences or motivates them, and why potential clients like some people (and not others) can have a profound impact on a person’s success in their role in sales or marketing. The same will be true in terms of understanding your own staff or peers.

Understanding Psychology is not about mind control. At SalesEvolve, we do not condone using principles, strategies or tactics to manipulate people to get what we want. Many older sales and marketing tactics covertly teach this practice, and we strongly advise people to steer clear, as they are ultimately counterproductive. Rather, Sales and Marketing should be viewed with a “customer needs, first” attitude. 

If everything we do in our Sales and Marketing positions is to help people make good decisions about the product or service we provide, then understanding psychology and how it contributes to decision making will help us to better communicate and understand our customers.

How people are influenced


There are several concepts in psychology that are commonly used in sales, marketing, and advertising to influence potential customers to buy. Some of these include the following:

Scarcity: We know that anything in short, or very limited supply that is also in demand by a market will naturally command a higher price tag. Therefore, you see companies dishing out “limited edition” products for example. People who value rarities or are highly individualistic are happy to pay more for unique and limited-quantity products.  Businesses enjoy offering items in short supply, as it often allows them to command a higher profit margin.

Credible Authority: This is the idea that when people of high regard vouch for you or your product or service it helps to earn the trust of others. This is often used in the business world. Customer case studies and online reviews are prime examples. They are used and demanded by potential customers to determine if you are trustworthy and to help them make sound decisions.

Liking: This is a common sales concept that suggests our clients prefer to interact with peers who have similar commonalities and interests. Engaging in small talk and spending time with clients is incredibly important to build rapport. It helps both parties understand and learn about each other, discover common interests and discover if compatibility exists. When potential clients see traits, interests or a purpose they share, relationships form and trust builds.

There are many more examples, but the point to illustrate is that potential clients want us to use principles like these to influence them. People prefer rare items, they look for a credible source to vouch for the product or service they are considering and people want to know that they will enjoy and trust working with the company whose products or services they are considering. The offensive part of sales and marketing is when the selling company applies to influence principals in a way that is not genuine or with an attitude that is not in the best interest of both parties.

I hope this short article helps to underscore the importance of understanding human behavior and its effect on selling. In my next blog, I’ll address psychology in context of objection handling. A good understanding of the psychology of sales and its impact on selling will help your team’s long term client retention. If this is something you or your team would like to understand better, please reach out to us at SalesEvolve. 

Thanks for reading…
Justin