This blog is modified from an article on Forbes. Click HERE to read the original.

If you're a salesperson, you can likely attest to the fact that selling is more difficult today than it's ever been. Landing that meeting with a prospect is nearly impossible because we're all dealing with endless distractions and overtaxed schedules.

And when you do land that meeting, you must often overcome their psychological feelings of choice overload and selling aversion to making the wrong choice. These twin forces — choice overload and sales aversion — can paralyze our prospects from making decisions, which can cause us to lose time and sales.

To put it simply, salespeople (and prospective buyers) are overwhelmed and mistrust us.

So how can you achieve success when the odds are stacked against you? First, you must recognize these feelings in your prospective buyer. Then, you can make two simple psychological shifts to increase your chances of success:

  • Stop selling to the person and start selling to their mindstate.
  • Add a few "psychological nudges" to move your prospect to take the desired action.

As the founder of a behavioral research and design firm, I've developed a few tips for how a salesperson can do this properly.

How to Sell to Mindstates

When you sell to a person, you must fight through all of their psychological barriers: choice overload, mistrust, and short attention spans. To get better results sell to their mindstate, a temporary state of mind in which you are in a state of high emotional arousal.

During these moments, I've found that you're more susceptible to influence and relying on unconscious factors. Your core motivations, such as nurturance, autonomy, or security, comprise your mindstate and regulatory approach, which is when you're either optimistic and striving for success or cautious and avoiding loss.

When a sales pitch is aimed at a mindstate, it feels like a more natural interaction; there's less resistance to it because it's been optimized to fit with someone's state of mind at the moment.

Smiling young bearded man writing plans in notebook and dreaming on business project sitting at netbook connected to internet,Contemplative male blogger thinking on funny ideas for new publication

Let's say you're a real estate agent who's showing homes to buyers. To know their mindstate, you first need to ask them their goals for the experience. As they describe their goals, listen closely for their motivation and regulatory approach.

If, for example, your buyers want to buy a new home because their old neighborhood doesn't feel as safe and they're focused on avoiding threats. Their mindstate is "cautious security."

With that in mind, when you're showing them houses, you wouldn't focus as much on the garage or big backyard. You'd bring up the brand new security system, the fence and the neighborhood watch program. When you do this, it builds consideration in the mind of the buyer and makes them more open to buying that house.

But how do you move the prospect from consideration to action? This is where you can add psychological nudges to your interactions to get them to sign on the dotted line. 

How to Close the Deal

Once you've got the prospective buyer on the hook with a sales pitch crafted to match their mindstate, you need to close the deal.

In this section, I'll describe a scenario that includes several psychological nudges. If your meeting with the prospect can match this setup, that's fantastic. If not, you can still use whichever of these nudges applies to you.

1. Choose the day.

When the weather is nice, people feel happier. In turn, they develop behaviors that are conducive for sales, such as cooperation, problem-solving, and concessions.

So, whenever possible, choose a day when the weather is nice. If you need to negotiate in bad weather, discuss the bad weather. Research shows that people are less happy in life when the weather is bad, but the effects are eliminated by talking about it.

Regardless of the weather, try bringing coffee and donuts to the meeting. Donuts can raise our glucose levels, reduce our aggressive tendencies, and make us less resistant to new ideas.

It’s funny how a warm, friendly environment can make a big impact on your bottom line.

2. Choose the time.

When planning the meeting, try to set the details around when it occurs. Those who set the meeting details begin the relationship with more psychological leverage.

Even if your client needs to suggest a different time, your assertiveness will increase your perceived power, giving you a more favorable negotiation.

One tip for being assertive yet accommodating with a potential client is to offer a small concession upfront. Give them something that they want, then drive hard for your key points because they’ll be more open to reciprocating now. For example, you could acquiesce to their timeline, then use that leverage to negotiate the price you want.

3. Choose the room.

Research shows that context and body language associated with low power (e.g., shorter chair, contracted posture) alters two hormones that generate the feeling of power: testosterone and cortisol. Meaning if you sit hunched over in a shorter chair, you will feel less powerful during the meeting. 

Ideally, you want to meet in your office and sit in a slightly higher chair at the head of the table. This may decrease testosterone and increase cortisol in the client, which could give you more influence in selling.

When the client walks in, sit with your chin up, shoulders back, and chest out. This “alpha dog” posture psychologically communicates dominance to everyone else.

Use lighting to help control the environment. Low lighting makes people less open to new ideas, while bright lighting tends to have the opposite effect.

Using Psychology to Increase Sales

Closing a deal starts with a sales pitch that's optimized for your prospect's mindstate. All the psychological nudges in the world won't help if your sales pitch is terrible.

Once your pitch has built consideration, any of these nudges can help you close the deal. If you use them in combination, it makes your argument even more powerful.

To gain a deeper understanding of consumer mindstates and the way they influence buying behavior, get your copy of the Mindstate Marketing Starter Package


For only $39.99, the Mindstate Starter Package introduces you to Mindstate Marketing: a revolutionary marketing framework used by thousands of businesses worldwide to persuade customers to listen, care, and act.  

The principles you’ll learn in these resources apply to both marketing and sales, and they can make a serious impact on your business’s trajectory.

Learn More

Topics: Innovation, Sales, Research