March 23, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In 1960, President John F. Kennedy announced to the world that the U.S. would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. In October 1969, Apollo 11 delivered Neil Armstrong into space and he set foot on the moon. How did NASA, never having completed this task before, have success without disaster? By understanding the science and testing everything on Earth according to the rules of science, NASA was able to predict how things would work on the way to the moon and the result was Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong.  We can leverage that same science when it comes to selling, and, if understood, can use it to predict the outcomes of sales calls.

Most prospects have a negative perception about salespeople. “They are pushy, arrogant, self-seeking, annoying…” are just some of the adjectives given. I know, because I have asked many times. However, the science behind human behavior and communication has been understood by psychologists for decades. The method of Transactional Analysis, Dr. Eric Burne explains, states that to generate trust and bonding with other people one must behave with humility and vulnerability, which is the opposite of how the typical salesperson behaves in a sales call.

The DISC behavior assessment, developed by psychologist William Marston, defines four distinct behavior styles of people.To win favor of a prospect, behave like they do, not like you do.

Neuro-linguistic programing, created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder is the science of communication.

To win favor of prospects, mirror and match the way they communicate.

Sir Isaac Netwon gave us the laws of motion: An object in motion tends to stay in motion; every action has an equal and opposite reaction. These laws spill over into human behavior. The best chance of getting a prospect to say “yes” is to take this prospect to “no.” The action of taking a prospect to “no” will often be met by the prospect with an equal and opposite reaction of moving toward “yes.”

I can’t give any one scientist the credit for emotional motivation, but that doesn’t diminish the power behind this scientific truth: People buy for their own reasons and these reasons are driven emotionally. Most sales conversations revolve around intellectual information such as features, benefits, price, and terms and conditions, and the conversation never leaves the realm of the intellect. Take the conversation to the emotional level and then prospects start buying from you even if your price is high.

I am a scientist by education (bachelor’s degree in engineering) and I love the science of selling. However, for many years I did not know it nor did I pursue it, so I had to work much harder to win sales. Sales professionals should make it part of their personal development to learn and then own the scientific rules as they apply to the world of selling.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.