The Psychology of Selling: 5 Steps to Selling that Actually Work

One of the most impactful realizations I made early on in sales is that closing deals isn’t just about the numbers. You also need to tap into the psychology of your prospect and get buy-in on a fundamental, biological level.

That’s why today we’re looking at the psychology of selling—5 steps to selling that actually work. You’re going to love seeing your close rates skyrocket after incorporating these steps into your pitch.

The Numbers Objection

How many times during a sales call have you heard, “Let me check the numbers and get back to you.” Or “The numbers just don’t work on our end.”

Numbers, numbers, numbers—most reps think closing sales in the B2B biz all comes down to the numbers. Does your product make logical sense for the buyer?

What a lot of sales professionals miss out on though is the emotional aspect of a deal. Sure, there’s still a big place for logic in sales. But when it comes down to it, we make decisions based on emotions. President and CEO of Whetstone Adrian Davis broke it down for me like this in our interview:

“Fundamentally, we make decisions emotionally, and if all we're doing is spouting features and benefits, we're really engaging the logical part of the brain. The logical part of the brain does not make decisions. It analyses and captures information to weigh pros and cons, but decisions are made emotionally”

The question is, how can you appeal to the psychology of your buyer to better sell your product? What tactics can you leverage to boost your selling power tenfold? And what framework can you use to consistently and effectively tap into the psychology of sales?

That’s exactly what I’m covering today. This five-step method is based on the Storytelling Framework from inside the Selling Made Simple Academy, but more on that in a sec. Right now, let’s jump into the steps.

1: Help Your Buyer Understand Their Current Reality

The very first step to tapping into the psychology of selling is helping your buyer understand their current reality.

What is the biggest problem your prospect faces today? Is it a stall in business growth in recent months? A team not working as efficiently as they should? Have they hit a success roadblock that they just can’t overcome?

Summarize their unique pains and verbally confirm those pains with the buyer. This gives them the opportunity to correct or clarify what you understand as their biggest problem. Beyond that, it also immediately puts you and the buyer on the same team—you are both trying to solve that problem. And you’re also scoring points for showing you understand what they’re going through.

2: Make Them Feel the Pain of That Reality

Next up is making them feel the pain of that current reality.

This step is also known as “agitating” the pain in copywriting terms. And it’s an essential step to engaging the emotions of the prospect.

So ask yourself—what are the consequences of this pain? Who do they look stupid in front of because of that pain or problem? Who is judging them? And what’s really, truly on the line if that problem goes unsolved?

Acknowledge these consequences with the buyer. Bring them up. And let them know you understand the stakes of the decision.

And don’t just stick to monetary consequences here. Reputation, career advancement, bragging rights, and much more besides money are motivating factors for making business decisions too.

Now that you’ve identified and agitated the pain points, it’s time to move on to step #3…

3: Outline What’s Stopping Them From Moving Forward

Outlining the current barriers that are stopping them from moving forward.

In most cases, these barriers fall into one or more of five specific categories. Step #3 involves pointing out which of these barriers your buyer is currently facing.

I go into greater detail about these five forces in the Storytelling Framework from the Selling Made Simple Academy. But for now, the five barriers are:

A) Selection Overwhelm

Selection overwhelm. The buyer has a problem and knows there are solutions. But there are too many choices. And it’s tough to know which is the best. This is a great opportunity for you to remind the buyer of your unique value proposition.

B) Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias. This is the mind’s tendency to stick to our previous decisions and defend them wholeheartedly. Pointing out this bias alone is enough to make a buyer more seriously consider switching solutions.

C) Blowback Risk

Is your buyer afraid of looking like an idiot after switching to a new solution that doesn’t work out? You can address this success blocker in particular by pointing to your brand’s reputation and success stories.

D) Initial Cost of Change

Initial cost of change. Is your buyer being held back by the thought of fighting for the budget or spending the time needed to implement your product? This blocker is best dealt with by providing your prospect with the resources they need to reduce those costs of change. Onboarding support, cost analyses, C-suite targeted product breakdowns, and more can all make your buyer’s job much easier.

E) The Buyer Is Lost

The buyer is downright lost. In the complicated world of B2B buying, knowing which solution is right for their problem is confusing. And that’s why they’re looking for help. For a guide. For someone that can simplify the process for them and tell them exactly what they need to know to make the right decision.

4: Paint a Picture of the Place They Want to Be

Painting a picture of the place they want to be.

At this stage, we want to show the buyer what their life could be like once they solve their problem. The goal here is to generate enthusiasm and connect a solution—your solution—to an easier, happier life.

Now, you want to be specific here. Can they achieve or outperform their professional goals? Will their stress levels drop? Are they finally recognized by the higher-ups?

This is a powerful step because humans aren’t great at envisioning the future. As Joey Coleman of Design Symphony put it:

“They can see the present, they can see the past, but they really struggle to see the future… That's why I think that salespeople have an opportunity, and I would dare say maybe even a responsibility, to preview the future for their customers that their customers aren't going to be able to envision on their own.”

Once you’ve illuminated their future selves, it’s time for the final step…

5: Build the Reality Bridge

Remember when I talked about the buyer being lost and needing a guide? Someone to show them the way?

Well now is the time you connect the dots. It’s you that can bridge the gap across their success blockers. It’s you that can help them achieve their goals. It’s you that can ensure implementing your solution goes seamlessly.

And it’s you that can take them from where they’re at now—with all their pains and problems—and give them what they need to be the less-stressed, more successful versions of themselves they imagined earlier.

All they need to do is sign.

And if you’ve followed the previous steps correctly, they’ll be asking for a pen in no time.


That’s it for leveraging the psychology of selling! See, pretty easy, isn’t it? Just…

  1. Help Them Understand Their Current Reality
  2. Make Them Feel the Pain of That Reality
  3. Outline What’s Stopping Them From Moving Forward
  4. Paint a Picture of the Place They Want to Be
  5. Build the Reality Bridge

That’s all it takes to tap into the psychology of selling. When you can appeal both to the logic and emotion of your buyer, nothing will be able to stop you from crushing it out there, I promise.

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