How Science is Changing Sales As We Know It


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Too many sales managers are trying to build their business by using methods that have been outdated for a decade. Imagine going to a doctor that is still practicing medical advice from 1990? Sure they can give some insights and may even be able to help you with whatever is troubling you but their ability to make an impact on your health is determined on old information. Wouldn’t you rather have a doctor that is up to speed on the latest medicines, research and technology? (You don’t have to answer that.)

Understanding the science of sales and how sales intelligence can have an impact on decision makers is a major competitive advantage.

Science of Selling

There was an interesting experiment by the Universite de Bretagne-Sud in France that says people buy more from you when you act like them. By mimicking customer behavior, 78.8% of the customers ended up buying the product. Without mimicking customer behavior, buyers only made a purchase 61.8% of the time. Along with increased likelihood of buying, mimicked customers were more complimentary of the salesperson and the business.

The study abstract states: “An experiment was carried out in a retail setting where four sales clerks were instructed to mimic, or not, some of the verbal expressions and nonverbal behavior of the customers. On their way out, these customers were asked to evaluate the sales clerks and the store. Results showed that mimicry was associated with a higher sales rate, greater compliance to the sales clerk’s suggestion during the selling process and more positive evaluations of both the sales clerks and the store.”

Another study was performed on Duke University undergrads where participants were told that its purpose concerned the impression formation, process and marketing of unfamiliar products. The study was set up to see if a decision maker would/could be influenced to make a purchase based on on a sales person mimicking customer behavior when the decision maker is aware that they are dealing with a salesperson. Turns out the decision maker was over twice as likely to buy when mimicking was employed.

Buying decisions determined by mimicking customer behavior

One might have expected that a person who is aware that a salesperson is trying to affect their behavior may try to guard against this influence, thereby being less likely to respond positively toward the product promoted by the salesperson. Instead, the mimicry led to more engagement when the salesperson was highly invested. Thus, in this case there was in fact an observed disassociation between the conscious desire to guard against persuasion and the nonconscious tendency to be engaged.

It’s a common understanding in business that people buy from people and not companies. Having a complete picture of your prospect and understanding how to sell to people and not contacts gives a sales person an definitive advantage.

Neuroscience and buying decisions had an article explaining that companies are starting to look at brain activity during sales presentations see whether or not prospects are being convinced. This technology exists now and is being marketed by a company named Affectiva that is run by David Berman, who was president of sales and service at Webex.

neuroscience is now proving what many sales professionals have long suspected: that decision-making, even among top executives, takes place mostly at a “gut” level.

Measuring emotional arousal via skin conductance that grows higher during states such as excitement, attention, or anxiety and lower during states such as boredom or relaxation can be a game changer for companies trying to get even deeper sales effectiveness during negotiations and sales discovery.

How scientific is your sales process?

Do you really know your customers? All of the research points to the massive effectiveness of sales intelligence. Knowing more about your prospects can make a dramatic impact on your revenue. Aberdeen’s paper on the science of sales intelligence shows even further that companies that invest in knowing more about their prospects reap larger rewards when it comes to building a fatter pipeline and closing more deals.

We are seeing more companies investing in things like adding game mechanics to sales teams to drive performance and that dovetails into ways to be more engaging with prospects with the same mechanics. Customers have evolved, has your sales process evolved in a way that mimics them?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Koka Sexton
Koka Sexton, Social Selling Evangelist and Sr. Social Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, is one of the most recognized social selling experts in the technology industry. A career in helping companies use social media for lead generation, creating new opportunities, and engaging customers. READ MORE at the LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog.


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