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Using Behavioural Science to Improve Sales Performance

Behavioural science is defined as a branch of science that deals primarily with human action and often seeks to generalises human behaviour in society.

There is a fundamental connection between behavioural science and selling – because, at its core, selling is a profession rooted in human interactions.

Hiding just below the surface of any sales conversation are unconscious biases that drive the human decision-making process.  These unconscious biases are present for both buyer and seller alike.

Richardson’s sales training programmes focus on building an understanding of these subconscious drivers and the skills, practises, and techniques sales professionals must master to deliver a differentiated customer experience.

Benefits of Understanding Behavioural Science in Sales

Sales professionals familiar with behavioural science concepts improve their ability to connect with customers because they have a greater understanding of their customer’s biases and their own. This helps them to more objectively evaluate opportunities and challenges, avoid aggressive behaviours, and reach their goals.

Sales professionals who understand the core concepts of behavioural science are better able to engage their customers because they have:

  • Increased self-awareness
  • Improved emotional intelligence
  • Improved agility
  • Reduced social anxiety
  • Reduced fear in managing difficult conversations
  • Improved ability to assess challenges and opportunities objectively

These attributes reduce barriers to success because the sales professional has a stronger grasp of their buyer’s strengths and limitations as well as their own.

Another great benefit for sales professionals endeavoring to internalise the teachings of behavioural science is that they learn how to better assess and manage their own subconscious reactions. Paying closer attention to their own reactions is critically important because generally everyone accepts that buying is an emotional experience, but they often forget that selling is emotional as well.

Bringing Behavioural Science to Life in Richardson’s Sales Training Programmes

Concepts rooted in behavioural science are highlighted in Richardson’s instructor-led training sessions and on the Accelerate digital learning platform.  These insights are mapped to specific course content to reinforce learning and add meaningful context for your sales team.

Here we look at a few examples of how behavioural science concepts help Richardson’s content truly resonate with your sales team.

Consultative Selling Training Programme

In the Consultative Selling training programme within content focused on building skills to resolve customer objections, the concept of cognitive dissonance is explored.

Cognitive Dissonance shows that humans are prone to discount, dismiss, or oppose information that is new or conflicts with our beliefs because it creates emotional discomfort.

Both customers and sellers are prone to the effects of cognitive dissonance. Customers object because of it. Sellers are naturally wired to react by defending their viewpoint in order to relieve their emotional discomfort. This only increases the level of cognitive dissonance for the customer and may trigger a threat response.

Being aware of the effects of cognitive dissonance helps sales professionals maintain Presence. Using acknowledgment or empathy helps to diffuse feelings of defensiveness for both the sales professional and the customer. This, in turn, creates a more collaborative and emotionally positive environment for the sales professional to ask questions to truly understand the objection and resolve it.

Consultative Negotiations Training Programme

Another example of how behavioural science concepts are integrated into Richardson’s programmes comes from the Consultative Negotiations training programme. Embedded in the content focused on building skills to open the negotiation is a discussion of the Anchoring bias.

The Anchoring bias describes the human tendency to overly rely on the first bit of information that we get. The initial information becomes a reference point (anchor) for subsequent thinking and judgments.

Science reveals this bias gives the advantage to the first person who offers.

This understanding helps sales professionals build confidence to make the first offer because they know this action will help them get better terms that are closer to their targets.

Developmental Sales Training Programme

Improved understanding of behavioural science is just as important for sales managers.  In the Developmental Sales Coaching training program, the connection between self-determination theory and the importance of coaching by asking rather than telling is discussed.

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a theory of human motivation. According to SDT, human beings have three inherent psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. SDT predicts that when people have developmental experiences that support these three basic needs, they will advance towards more self-motivated behaviour.

Sales managers learn that when they transform their focus from being an expert who tells to a coach who inspires by fulfilling their team’s basic human need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness they can build a team that is comprised of more self-motivated professionals.

Connecting Behavioural Science Across a Sales Curriculum

Many behavioural science concepts are repeated throughout Richardson’s Connected Selling Curriculum.

This repetition and demonstration of applicability across different skill development courses serves to help the sales professional internalise the learnings. They can use this foundation to continuously build their skills in different areas of selling.

Overtime enhanced understanding of behavioural science and improved selling skills help sales professionals become truly consultative. As a result, their selling style is more confident, insightful, and agile.