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Want to sell more … shut-up and listen!

The more you tell, the less you sell!

The human brain is designed to solve problems.  Imagine in our hunter/gatherer days solving the problem: how do I find food during a harsh winter.  This would clearly give us an evolutionary advantage. Our experience of pleasure from solving problems is the brain’s way of rewarding survival-based behaviours.

This explains why sales people are so keen to pitch their products at the slightest whiff of a customer problem – solving problems is highly satisfying because it triggers the brain’s dopamine reward system. The trouble is, it is the sales person that experiences the pleasure, not the customer.  In fact it could have an adverse effect on the customer who will likely push back (perhaps for no other reason than it wasn’t their idea). It is this subconscious  effect that gives rise to what is called a sales objection.

If pitching doesn’t work, what else can the eager sales person do?

The answer is to help the customer come up with the solution themselves. When someone solves their own problem they are rewarded with a release of dopamine in their brain, a neurotransmitter that creates positive emotions and satisfaction. It follows that if you are able to create positive feelings in your clients they are more likely to want to deal with you.

So instead of pitching, the best sales people devise a carefully crafted series of questions that allow clients to come up with the solution themselves. Good questioning will lead the customer to your offering.  Research by Huthwaite, amongst others, shows that this approach is far more successful, and results in 65% fewer objections than traditional selling.

Solving your client’s problems may make you feel good, but helping them solve their own problems makes them feel good.

Ask more questions; speak less!

One of the hardest things for a sales person is to bite their tongue – to suppress their evolutionary instinct to offer their solution. All the research shows that pitching early in the sales cycle has little impact on the customer, whereas inhibiting your urges until the prospect has reached their own conclusion has a high impact on the customer’s likelihood to buy. It’s no wonder that the most successful sales people think of selling as ‘joint problem solving’. They listen more, ask more questions, and speak less!

Solving your client’s problems may make you feel good, but helping them solve their own problems makes them feel good.  If you can make them feel good, they will naturally want to put their business with you!

Discover the latest insights from neuroscience into what makes people buy