You’re probably familiar with the idea that a good sales manager has to be good at psychology or that true sales experts read their prospects and pull clever mind tricks on them. The same thing can be said about businesspersons in general. Sometimes they are painted as Hannibal Lecter — all-knowing, perceptive and capable of getting into other people’s heads. And many business owners or sales managers try to live up to that standard.
Before we started out as Belkins, we saw a lot of beginning sales managers who tried to be mind-readers and get into their prospect’s heads. Those attempts either bore no fruit or backfired. That’s because the sales managers in question were too busy following the latest business communication trends or the guidelines in the latest sales book they read, without acknowledging reality.
They also weren’t aware of the fact that you can’t be confident about the quality of the product, service, tool, or even a piece of advice until you either test it or get tangible proof from someone who has tested it before you. Mind tricks are not immune to this. There are good ways to outline the preferences of your prospects and pick up the pattern of communication they’re comfortable with and there are ways that will end with you alienating your prospects. Or worse, that comes off as pushy and manipulative.
To ensure your B2B communication always goes smoothly and your decisions are built on truly relevant information instead of random facts, let’s talk about bad mind trick games a bit.
# 1. Playing on the insecurities
Given how often we mention pain points, it sounds as if we suggest you bring up your prospect’s problems without actually mentioning them. But there’s a difference. Let’s break a mind trick game down.
- You get contacted by a sales manager who starts by talking about how many current issues your business has. They describe the grim future of your company and the drop of your ROI, they paint the dark picture of your goals failing and your customers leaving you. Then they sum it all up by saying that the nightmare can be avoided ONLY if you use their services.
- You get contacted by a sales manager who asks you how you solve the specific pain points in your industry. They briefly introduce the services provided by their company and how they helped their clients tackle their challenges. Then they reveal that they gathered some insights about your business and they suggest to explore how their assets can amplify your progress.
So, if you were to choose between A and B, who would you pick?
Never start your conversation with anything that may come off as “Hi, you need help.” Ever. Even in B2C, getting carried away with the insecurities of your target audience and continuously pushing their buttons is frowned upon.
- First of all, nobody wants to feel like an infomercial character.
- Second, the worst thing you can do is tell your B2B prospect, a person who took part in developing the company and is responsible for its critical processes, that they are failing.
It won't be a conversation between two equal professionals who seek to improve their metrics and even make things better for their industries. It would be a rather short talk because your prospects aren’t likely to tolerate a condescending tone. Sales managers who start with pushing their prospect’s buttons like this are associated with a lack of professional experience and confidence. After all, a professional who is confident about their core strengths doesn’t have to intimidate people into employing their services.
#2. Creating urgency
We often hear that sales executives should initiate action and motivate your potential customers to move to the next stage of the sales funnel. We’re also told that our potential buyers won’t bother themselves with progressing further if they’re not prodded enough or not told that they don’t have all the time in the world.
Following that logic, it’s acceptable to insert emails that inform prospects about a limited offer or force a deadline on them during a phone call. For example, telling them that they should make their choice by the end of the current day is as acceptable as counting the days before the offer ends. Some would say that it’s fine to create a false sense of urgency by pretending that a permanent offer is a temporary one.
However, you can already tell why it sounds phony. It puts your prospects under too much unnecessary pressure and it creates the feeling of animosity towards you. Nobody likes it when someone puts a timer in their life in any way. In B2B, where decisions are made by a group of people instead of just one person, it makes a particularly bad impression. It shows you don’t respect your prospect’s time and workload. Is that the approach your prospects expect from their ideal vendor?
#3. The bandwagon principle
“Everybody is doing it, so you should too...” This message is all too common in product promotion. We definitely won’t say that appealing to the feeling of community and the authority of the majority is bad. However, we assure you that appealing to the majority too much, and without thinking, will hurt your sales.
Let’s look at an example of such a mind trick game.
A company offers a wide range of services, including app development for Healthcare and Fintech. Logically, it has lots of customers from major healthcare and financial institutions. So, when the sales executives of the company need to find more leads for their Healthcare app development service, would it make sense for them to include the full list of their clients regardless of their specialization and industry? Of course not. Healthcare institutions are not going to be impressed by how many Fintech organizations were boosted by the company. They are looking for a vendor trusted by other health facilities.
Mentioning the clients that are relevant to the prospect’s industry may seem like a logical thing to do, but many people make the rookie mistake of choosing big-name brands over relevant brands when describing their clients. They believe that the scale of their operations is enough to impress their target audience.
However, your target audience can tell the difference between the mere majority and the majority that matters. You should too.
#4. Reverse psychology
Some sales managers like to try the following trick: they introduce their prospects to the price packages and start with the cheapest one, subtly implying that the prospects wouldn’t be able to afford the larger package. Their goal is to make their prospects take the bait and purchase the more expensive package of services to prove the sales manager wrong. It seems like a clever idea, but in reality, you are more likely to offend your prospects and lose them forever. After all, mind games like this only work in B2C. And, even then, only when they are executed by truly perceptive people who have a degree in Psychology who can read their audience. In other words, the success stories depend on the individual qualities of the sales executive.
This method doesn’t work in B2B. Since it’s a group of titles that makes the ultimate buying decision, there is no point in challenging them or daring them to acquire a more costly service package. Second, by offering them the cheapest version, you may unintentionally insult your prospect’s ability to manage their budget or control their expenses and lose them as your potential customers.
As for other reverse psychology tricks, you shouldn’t make your potential B2B buyers do what they don’t want to do. If they see through your game, they will stop thinking of you as a credible vendor and move on to other options. Nobody wants to deal with a person who would rather manipulate and dance around the subject instead of explaining the hows and whys in a transparent and mature way.
What about the good mind tricks?
In our opinion, there are downright bad tricks (the ones that invade the prospect’s privacy, ignore the SPAM-CAN act and break the law) and tricks that can work in one situation and backfire in another situation. We can’t tell you about the top approaches that will turn the tables on your sales in the current year. However, we can give a few tips on how to shape the right approach to communication with the prospects.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t try to be all-knowing or pretend like you know your prospect’s business better than they do. Offer them an opportunity to talk about themselves. Socrates once said “Speak, so that I may see you,” and this saying is still relevant. The more eager your prospects are to talk about themselves, the easier it is for you to select the right place.
- Keep up your prospects intrigued. Your prospects always look for something exclusive. They hope to find more than a good offering. Their dream is a good service with benefits that fit them like a glove. But, if you lay your cards down in the first email, you can lose that sense of awe and your unique value proposition won’t look as impressive as it should. Keep some details for the second call with the customer or for a separate email, but mention that you would love to show more information about the relevant pain points or a specific area.
- Use emotions for speaking, facts for selling. B2B buyers don’t like poetic descriptions. They have no time for debates and won’t take kindly to you challenging their morality or trying to emotionally blackmail them into doing what you want. What they do appreciate is a sincere “Hello, how are you doing?” and a naturally flowing conversation with friendly sales executives who can balance between talking shop and being amicable.
Has anyone ever tried to pull a mind trick on you? How do you prefer to build your sales communication?
Let us know what you think about those tips or your personal experience of speaking with B2B buyers. We’d love to hear from you!