Selling To Mindstates: How To Use Mindstates To Increase Sales

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 aversion to making the wrong choice. To put it simply, we (and prospective buyers) are overwhelmed.

These twin forces — choice overload and loss aversion — can paralyze our prospects from making decisions, which can cause us to lose time and sales.

To be successful, a salesperson must first recognize these feelings in their prospective buyer. Then, I believe they can make two simple psychological shifts to increase their chances of success:

• Stop selling to the person, and start selling to their mindstate.

• Add a few of what I call "psychological nudges" to your interactions to make it more likely the prospect will take the desired action.

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

How To Sell To Mindstates

When you sell to a person, you must fight through all the psychological barriers we discussed earlier. Instead, you can sell to their mindstate, a term I coined that refers to a temporary state of mind in which you are in a state of high emotional arousal. During these moments, I've found you're more susceptible to influence and relying on nonconscious 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, I've found 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.

To put this into perspective, 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. As they describe their goals, listen closely to 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, they're focused on not losing any more security. 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. Instead, 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.

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 three psychological nudges. If your meeting with a prospective buyer can match this setup, that's fantastic. If not, you can still use whichever of these nudges applies to you.

1. Put clients in a good mood.

There are a number of factors that might affect a person's mood, such as the weather or even the refreshments you provide. And when people are happy, they can develop behaviors that are more conducive for sales.

But let's face it: You can't control the weather, and it's often been debated whether sunshine truly makes someone happier. So no matter if you're negotiating on a cold, rainy day or a summer afternoon, bring coffee and donuts to the meeting. These are more than just a pick-me-up; donuts (or other sweet treats) help raise our glucose levels, which in turn can affect a person's mood. Research has also found that warm coffee can affect someone's perception of you and make them see you as "warmer."

2. Set the time yourself.

When planning the meeting, try to set the details around when it occurs. In my experience, setting the meeting details shows you're assertive and creates a more even playing field when negotiating. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Being assertive can also help boost your self-esteem and earn others' respect."

One tip for being assertive — yet accommodating — to a potential client is to offer a small concession upfront. Give them something that they want, and then drive hard for your key points. I've found that often, they’ll be more open to reciprocating. For example, you could acquiesce to their timeline, and then use that compromise to negotiate the price you want.

3. Let yourself feel powerful.

Research shows that people show power through their body language, and when you have open, expansive posture, you can actually feel more powerful. This means that if you sit hunched over in a short chair, you will likely feel less powerful during the meeting. The power dynamic can greatly impact your negotiations, which is why it's important to keep your body language in mind.

So when you meet, sit openly in a chair at the head of the table and uncross your legs and arms. When the client walks in, sit with your chin up, shoulders back and chest out. This type of posture silently communicates your power to everyone else.

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.