The Top Three Psychological Barriers In Sales (And How To Overcome Them)

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What are the biggest roadblocks in closing a deal? We’re all familiar with the usual culprits: establishing urgency, gaining a warm intro, competing against lower prices, overly long sales cycle, etc.


While these can be challenging obstacles, you won’t have trouble finding an assortment of proven sales tactics designed to overcome them. On a deeper level, though, there are also a number of psychological factors that tend to derail B2B sales, and because these are more innate and ingrained, they can be much more difficult to surmount. It’s true: the brain works in mysterious ways. But recognizing some of the underlying cognitive drivers that commonly stall out deals can bring clarity, helping us to alter our approaches, and minimize these barriers.

Here are three common psychological barriers in sales, and how you can overcome them:


One landmark research study found that “people who had more choices were often less willing to decide to buy anything at all,” suggesting that “choice, to the extent that it requires greater decision-making among options, can become burdensome and ultimately counterproductive.” This is a form of analysis paralysis. When making a significant B2B purchase decision, the stakes are much greater, so this effect tends to be heightened in such scenarios.

What should you do?

You can’t control the number of options a prospective buyer faces in the open market. But you can control the way you present and deliver information when engaging them. The simpler you make this experience on their end, the better your chances of avoiding paralysis by analysis. Take unnecessary decisions out of the equation, streamline your message, and drill down to the bare essentials. Research ahead of time so you can eliminate extraneous questions. Remember, the less information you cram into a buyer’s brain, the more clearly they’ll be able to evaluate your offering.


This theory is also referred to as regret aversion, and suggests that people will sometimes stall in making a decision because they (often subconsciously) dread the future remorse of making the wrong choice. Regret is a powerful negative emotion, and in cases like this, its mere prospect can interfere with our rational thought. This dynamic comes into play for many everyday decisions, but again, it’s magnified in a B2B purchasing situation because choosing the wrong solution could lead to professional ramifications and emotional strain.

What should you do?

The way to overcome anticipated regret is taking every step you can to eliminate the feeling that a buyer will ultimately realize they should’ve gone another direction. And that means positioning your solution as the best one for them, based on their specific circumstances and needs. Most sellers recognize that it’s bad form to rail on the competition directly during the sales process, but there are ways to subtly cancel out reservations. An account-based approach is helpful here because it enables your sales and marketing teams to develop an acute understanding of the organization you’re pursuing, so you can tailor the pitch and explain why your solution is the exact one for them. Additionally, social proof carries weight here. When a buyer sees that others with similar needs have done business with you and wound up satisfied, it helps reduce the potential for regret aversion. Case studies, customer reviews, and referrals (especially from someone the individual is already familiar with) can be profoundly impactful.


This is the number one inhibitor of relationship-building and forward progress in sales. In fact, it’s usually the top barrier in getting a response or starting a conversation in the first place. When the B2B decision-maker sees you as a stranger operating out of self-interest, gaining sway and influence with them can be extremely difficult. It doesn’t help that salespeople in general carry a negative stereotype in the eyes of some. Sales pros who can consistently overcome this barrier have a dramatic advantage over the field. But it’s not easy.

What should you do?

There are no shortcuts heretrust is earned, not given. The vital process of building trust begins before you reach out and continues through the follow-up phase and beyond. It requires taking an earnest interest in the prospect’s pains and needs and demonstrating this in authentic and genuine ways. Some good methods for doing so? Establish your credibility through a consistent, interactive, and insight-driven social presence. Do them a favor before ever asking them to do you one. Build a network of strong relationships, LinkedIn connections, and endorsements so that your reputation speaks for itself. Keep in mind that as difficult as trust is to develop, it is equally easy to break. As long as you take a consultative approach guided by honesty above all, you’ll be on the right track.

Those old inevitable roadblocks will continue to arise along the journey to converting a sale, but for today’s sales pros, an approach designed to overcome these dissonance factors -simplifying your pitch, minimizing anticipated regret, and building authentic trust- is a no-brainer.

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Stefanie Fernandez

Written By

Stefanie Fernandez is the Head of Sales Solutions MENA
at LinkedIn.