Selling isn't luck or magic - it's science

Posted by Harry Mills on 7 February 2017 | Comments

For the past 60 years, social scientists have been studying how successful persuaders switch our minds from no to yes.

Hundreds of studies into the psychology of persuasion show you can dramatically boost your powers of persuasion. Moreover remarkably small changes can make a difference to your powers of persuasion.

Professor Robert Cialdini, the Regent Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University has made much of this academic research accessible to lay readers.

His book, Influence: Science and Practice, has sold over two million copies. Cialdini is now the most quoted expert in the field of influence and persuasion.

Cialdini’s ground breaking research and brilliant insights inspired me to write Artful Persuasion: How to Command Attention, Change Minds and Influence People. Its success resulted in me being selected as the Harvard Manage/Mentor on persuasion.

Over the past two decades scientific researchers have developed remarkable new tools for probing the hidden workings of the mind. The resulting explosion of brain scan research has meant that we have learnt more about how the brain is wired to make decisions than in the previous 200 years.

Lastly, the new sciences of behavioural economics and neuro-economics have given us a much clearer picture on the patterns of thinking that cause us to make dumb or irrational decisions.

When it comes to understanding how we think and choose and why we make irrational decisions, no one has made a greater contribution than Daniel Kahneman who was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science. Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow is a tour de force on how our brains are easily bamboozled.

Ground breaking research by Elliot Aronson and dozens of other social psychologists has proven that self-persusion is much more powerful than direct persuasion. Remarkably, this large body of research has been largely ignored by the hundreds of sales training companies who continue to teach forms of direct persuasion or tell-and-sell.

My forthcoming book The Aha! Advantage:The Revolutionary New Science of Sales Success draws heavily on this research into self-persuasion. Instead of training novice sellers on how to convince prospects why they need to buy, we need to train them how to help prospects convince themselves. When we help clients uncover their own reasons for buying, they commit faster and for longer.

Its time we stopped talking about the art of selling and started talking about the science of selling. When we do that, selling will finally earn respect as a profession.