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How to Use Human Psychology to Crush Your Sales Goals Learning why people act the way they do when it comes to purchasing will help you become the master of sales — and you might already be using some of these strategies without knowing it.

By Jason Miller Edited by Kara McIntyre

Key Takeaways

  • 1. Start with clearly defined goals.
  • 2. Understand the unconscious mind.
  • 3. Focus on why people buy.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Although the marketing world has been changing drastically over the years, some things have stayed the same. I'm talking about human psychology. There are tried and true tactics that win every time based on how we behave and what signals our subconscious behavior and emotional triggers.

According to McKinsey & Co., 80% of consumers want retailers to personalize their experiences — so when you use sales psychology, your audience will believe you understand them and their needs. Knowing sales psychology can also help you predict when your clients are going to buy, which in turn can lead to you being more prepared with inventory and/or employees to gain more sales.

Related: 6 Psychology-Based Tips to Boost Your Sales

Start with clearly defined goals

The first step may seem obvious, but before you start selling, it's important to make sure you have clearly defined sales goals. At my business, we start by creating sales goals every quarter and making sure we meet those goals on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

At my company, we make sure our sales team records all of their calls so we can go through and see what they need to work on. We conduct a weekly sales training call with all of our closers, go through calls they recorded throughout the week and analyze what needs to improve — whether that's making sure they're asking prospects the correct questions, using an assertive and supportive tone of voice, building rapport or making prospects feel comfortable and understood.

If the client thinks you don't understand their problem first and foremost, they won't feel confident in your company being the solution they need.

Understand the unconscious mind

Did you know that 95% of purchase decision-making takes place in the unconscious mind? If you want to learn how to access the unconscious mind — and your customers' emotions — focus on these key areas:

The psychology of color

Colors evoke different types of emotions so it's a great way to use it in your branding and marketing. There are usually many different feelings associated with each color, but here are a few to get you started:

  • Brands that choose purple usually portray luxury and feelings of sophistication.
  • Blue evokes feelings of calmness and trustworthiness. That's why a lot of doctors' offices and spas will be painted blue.
  • Orange creates feelings of warmth and showcases creativity and adventure. It's also vibrant and can be well suited to attracting younger crowds.
  • Restaurants that want to evoke feelings of hunger and excitement may want to use the color red.
  • Brands that want to come across as confident and sophisticated can opt for the color black.

My company's logo is a mix of blue, red and white. As an American company, we purposefully chose these colors to mimic the feelings that come from the pride Americans have for our flag. Red isn't just used to evoke feelings of hunger, it's also used to signify power and fearlessness, which is what we stand for.

A quick note of precaution on the psychology of color: Each color can also portray a negative emotion along with a positive one. For example, red is great for evoking feelings of hunger, but it can also evoke anger.

Related: 6 Ways You Can Leverage Consumer Psychology to Drive More Sales

The psychology of pricing

I believe that the psychology behind numbers is one of the most powerful tactics you can use. An MIT study shows surprising results regarding the number nine. You may have even done this powerful trick yourself. In fact, it's so powerful that the MIT study indicated when it came to a dress in a women's catalog, the experiment tried three different prices $34, $39 and $44. You would think people would have bought the dress the most when it was $34, but changing the price from $34 and $44 didn't change demand at all, however, changing it to $39 increased demand by a third.

The psychology of scarcity

People want what they can't have, and there are various ways you can leverage this psychology of scarcity. I recommend using flash sales as a quick cash flow increase and to keep your customers on their toes. You can do this through email marketing, ads or social media. On your website, you could also try showing how many items are left in stock. There's more FOMO (fear of missing out) if there are only four items left versus 100.

The psychology of social proof

People want to follow what other people are doing. You might think they just "want to be popular," but the need comes from wanting to feel like we belong and are well-liked. It's a basic human need, and as such, we look toward what others are doing when we're confused. A 2022 study by TINT showed that 75% of customers search for social proof, including reviews and testimonials, before making a purchase — so make sure you use everything from user-generated content on social media to video and written testimonials.

Related: 5 Psychological Reasons 'Social Proof' Beats Everything Else in Marketing

Focus on why people buy

There are many factors why people buy, including but not limited to money, status, security, popularity and transformation. At my company, we focus on business growth and transformation, so our ad campaigns specifically revolve around making sure feelings of success, security and power are evoked.

You should be evoking emotions throughout the entire client journey, from your ad to the purchase and even after you close the sale. This is where a lot of businesses fall off on the client journey, but even after your product is bought, there are still many ways to evoke feelings and make sure you receive a positive client testimonial/review or a referral. Checking up on your clients will make them feel like you care.

In order to win at selling, at the end of the day you need to focus on selling a lifestyle, not just a product based on features. By defining your sales goals, learning about customers' emotions and needs and accessing the unconscious mind through pricing, colors, scarcity and social proof, you will be able to leverage sales psychology.

Jason Miller

CEO of the Strategic Advisor Board

Jason Miller is a seasoned CEO with an overwhelming passion to help other business owners and CEOs succeed. He was nicknamed Jason “The Bull” Miller because he takes no BS and no excuses from the people he serves. He has mentored thousands of people over more than two decades.

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