The salesman as psychotherapist: 3 areas of psychology that traders should study

The salesman as psychotherapist: 3 areas of psychology that traders should study

A trader who knows psychology has an edge over others. But it is a shame to educate yourself in psychology only from manuals for traders. For inspiration, we have chosen three psychological areas that, at first glance, do not relate to business. But they give marketers much more than another e-book about why medium cups sell the most at Starbucks.

Psychotherapy: master the art of listening

When the editors of the business portal SalesHacker reviewed a study by the American Psychological Association (APA) about what qualities make a good therapist, they found that all 14 points also define a good salesperson. For example, both must be able to:

  • listen empathetically
  • solve the client's problems together,
  • react flexibly.

Most importantly, psychotherapists must be excellent listeners, just like marketers. The therapist actively listens and looks for ways to solve the client's problems in life. And the businessman, in turn, actively listens and looks for ways to solve the client's business problems.

For example, Luke Ruffing, the founder of SaaS company PandaDoc, says that salespeople who do the least talking in a meeting and actively listen most of the time sell best. His meetings look like this, for example:

Psychologie - Luke Ruffing

13% of the meeting is spoken by Luke, 87% by his client.

The therapist's goal is to create an atmosphere of unconditional positive regard (UPR). This is a state where the client can express their emotions without fear of being judged—⁠ in other words, total honesty. This state is necessary both for obtaining information and for building a relationship between the therapist and the client.

In a business environment, you can achieve this, for example:

  • open-ended questions – ask in such a way that the client does not answer yes/no, but let him talk,
  • active listening – you don't listen to the client in order to manipulate him, but to understand his problem,
  • repetition – repeat the client's sentences or phrases from time to time, you will let him know that you are listening.

TIP: We discuss the technique of open questions in detail in a separate article.

Couples therapy: how to build healthy relationships with clients

The Sound Relationship House Theory or the Gottman Method is one of the most popular frameworks for resolving conflicts in couples therapy. It defines 7 principles of a happy relationship, which are built on willingness and trust. The Gottman Method claims that if a couple follows these principles, they will maintain a happy relationship.

Oficiální ilustrace frameworku od Johna Gottmana

Official illustration of the framework by John Gottman.

​Try to translate these principles into the relationship between a merchant and a client. For example, fulfilling common dreams in practice means following the idea that you and your client have a common goal to pursue. Other points such as active sharing of mutual needs, conflict resolution or maintaining a positive attitude are equally important in a business relationship.

Bottom line: the relationship between business partners and between life partners is based on the same principles. Try to think from time to time whether the relationship with your long-term clients meets the principles of the Gottman method, and if not, think about how to fix it.

TIP: The closer you build relationships with clients, the more you will want to record about them. We describe in a separate article how to create a complete and clear record of clients.

Storytelling: stories lead to better understanding

Storytelling is a theory from neuropsychology based on the fact that the human mind perceives the surrounding world through stories. Events around us have beginnings, endings, tension, twists, plots, and other typical story characteristics.

In general, people can communicate information either through simple messages or through stories. For example, if someone asks you how your lunch was, you can answer:

  • "Nothing much."
  • or: "Look, we came there, there was no empty table, the waiter was unpleasant, and when we sat down after 20 minutes..."

The difference is that in the second case, the listener will immerse himself in your narrative and remember it better. In addition, according to neuroscientists, storytelling releases the hormone oxytocin in the body, which awakens empathy. Thanks to this, you will begin to sympathize with the actors of the story.

What does this mean in sales? Don't explain services to your clients in boring numbers and data that will go in one ear and out the other, but use stories. Tune in and work with the case studies. If you describe to the client from beginning to end the stories of people who solved the same problem and your service helped them, he will identify with them, empathize with them and remember them.

TIP: Prepare separate case studies for clients from different segments or different sizes. CRM will help you record which group each client belongs to and how best to work with them. You can try this ultimate trading tool for free for 30 days.


Psychology is a sea of inspiration for marketers

Marketers should not be cogs turning to fill quotas. People in sales are there to help people and businesses solve their problems. This is also why business has a lot in common with psychology, and if you delve deeper into it, you will find hundreds of other useful insights that will move you like a jet in addition to the 3 areas from this article.

If you are a sales manager, be sure to include psychology in your team's training plan. A businessman who knows people has a head start in business. You can find other points that should not be missing in the training plan in our hub for business managers.