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February 23, 2016 // 8:30 AM

6 Psychology-Backed Selling Techniques to Enhance Your Sales Calls

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Once you start getting on the phones, you need to prepare psychologically. In this post, I want to share some interesting pieces of advice for running successful sales calls that are outside the norm.

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The first three sales techniques are excerpted from an excerpt from an article by my friend Vanessa Van Edwards who runs a behavior research lab and focuses on helping salespeople navigate behavioral cues. She calls it Science of People. The last three selling techniques are derived from my own experience.

How to Make a Sales Call Based on Behavioral Research

Step 1: Start all sales calls with a bang. 

Always start your sales calls in style. One study tried to figure out how to increase room service tips for waiters in hotels. Much to the researchers’ surprise, all the waiters had to do was start with a positive comment. When hotel guests opened their door, waiters said “good morning” and gave a positive weather forecast for the day. Just that one simple, pleasant comment increased their tips by 27%!

How does this help you? Never start your sales calls or meetings by talking about bad weather, traffic, or being busy. Always begin with a positive comment or anecdote. Think great weather, fun weekend plans, or a favorite sports team winning a game. That kicks most sales calls off on the right foot.

Step 2: Don’t bad-mouth competitors during sales calls.

The biggest self-sabotage mistake during a sales call is to speak ill of a competitor. Due to a psychological quirk called spontaneous trait transference, research has shown that whenever you say bad things about someone else, your audience puts those same traits on you. If you say your competitor is low quality and unreliable, your potential client can’t help but associate those traits with you, even if they know logically that you are talking about a third party. So no matter what, when it comes to gossip about competitors, always say “no comment.” 

Step 3: Use awesome labels.

When you assign someone a positive label, like having high intelligence or being a good person, that actually cues them to live up to that label. In one study about fundraising, the researchers told average donors that they were in fact among the highest donors. Can you guess what happened? Those donors proceeded to donate an above average amount. We live up to our positive labels. 

When you are with a client or potential customer, give them good labels (however, be sure they’re genuine -- I never want you to be fake or manipulative). You can say, “You are one of our best customers” or “You’re such a pleasure to do business with.” In that way, the client will actually want to be one of your best customers and try even harder to be a pleasure to do business with. 

Step 4: Set the agenda and stay in control.

When I get on sales calls that I’ve set up from meeting requests, I always like to articulate clear agendas and ask the prospects if that's okay with them. This way, we can keep our calls on track and accomplish what I want to accomplish, while at the same time making them feel in control of the conversation. For example, you might say, “Well, I’m glad we’re able to connect today. I’d love to go over XYZ and then would be happy to answer any questions you might have. How does that sound to you?”

Step 5: Stand up.

Allow your passion and excitement for the product to come through in your sales calls. Make it something the prospect can be infected by. For this reason, reps should stand up and do sales calls in a main common space instead of hiding in a conference room.

As Mattermark CEO Danielle Morrill says, “Speak loud and proud!” I myself like to pace around for all calls.

Step 6: Use emphasis wisely during sales calls.

In addition, focus on your inflection, especially on voicemails. Bedrock Data CEO John Marcus describes this as “putting makeup” on your calls. By adding inflection to the right words, you sound more passionate and articulate and, in turn, more convincing.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the new book Hacking Sales: The Playbook for Building a High Velocity Sales Machine. It was originally published in May 2015 with permission and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Topics: Sales Process Sales Calls

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