3 Proven Ways to Influence Decision Making


Working in sales is more than just flashy pitching and fast-talking. You have to be an expert in influencing other people, which means positively influencing how they make decisions. It’s absolutely crucial to have this skill, as it can either make or break your sales career.

Fortunately, you don’t need a degree in psychology to figure out how to influence your customer and their decision making process. In fact, you’ll see that it’s all fairly easy to grasp.

There are three basic cognitive biases that we, as salespeople, can take advantage of. Cognitive bias basically allows individuals create their own “subjective social reality” from their perception of the input. Essentially, people will make decisions based off of their individual perception of what we say.

How can we change their perception of what we say? Each individual is different, and each person has different moods. How can we possibly influence how each person perceives us and our sales pitch?

Surprisingly, it’s not what we say…it’s how we say it.

Mastering non-verbal communication is the ultimate key to influencing decision making because it allows you to tap into the part of the brain where words alone cannot influence. It contains a mixture of many different elements, such as tone of voice, eye contact, etc. However, we have isolated three non-verbal “cognitive biases” that you should learn how to master to help you influence decision making.

Establish Trust by Showing Confidence

Put yourself in the shoes of a customer. A sales executive, who has a 20 year record with the company, presents a product to you. They don’t sound overly confident about the product, or confident in their sales pitch. Even though this sales executive has a proven track record, you probably won’t make a purchase because of his lack of confidence.

Let’s repeat the exercise. A brand new sales executive walks in to your office. He is so confident in the product and in the company that he represents. According to Carnegie Mellon, even though this sales executive is brand new, you are more likely to make a purchase from him based off of his confidence alone.

Our brains look for signs of certainty and tend to assign our trust to those who project confidence. It doesn’t matter if you are a brand new sales executive or a tenured veteran. If you project confidence in your body language and in your voice, the customer is more likely to trust you, which can prove to be a very important element in decision making.

Smiling, eye contact, lack of “umms”, a firm handshake, and not stammering are great examples on how to show confidence.


Sound Upbeat

One of the reasons why tone of voice matters so much is because it influences how we feel, not just what we think. Researchers call this the “mood contagion”. Behavioral scientists Roland Neumann and Fritz Strack found that when listening to a speech, people felt more optimistic and more susceptible to persuasion if the presenter spoke in an upbeat tone compared to a somber one.

This bit of research is huge for salespeople. Just by sounding eager and upbeat, you can not only change someone’s perception of your content, but also, change their overall optimism, which is a key factor in convincing someone to purchase your product. After all, why would someone buy from you if they were pessimistic about your product?

Prime the Brain to Make a Favorable Decision

One of the more interesting ways to influence the decision making process is to make it perfectly clear to your client that a decision MUST be made by them. However, it has to go further than that. There are numerous studies that support the hypothesis that decisions are made contextually, meaning that influencing others’ decisions means framing their choices properly.

The best way to prime the brain to make a favorable decision is to continually direct them in a conversational question and answer format. The questions should be focused on the concepts that you want them to actually make their final purchasing decision on.

A great example of this in action would look something like this:

“Mr. Smith, does it make logical sense that there are many companies, very similar to yours, have switched to our product because of our superior quality?”

In the customer’s mind, they are affirming that people are indeed switching over to the salesperson’s product because of the superior quality. This primes the brain to focus on that particular element, which will aid in the decision making process.



This is pretty advanced stuff, but if you are able to utilize the three above tips, you will definitely see a strong increase in your sales volume. To sum it up, be a confident salesperson, no matter what’s going on in your personal or professional life. Sound excited and upbeat at all times. Finally, frame the questions so that you are priming the brain to focus on the positive concepts you wish to communicate.

This, right here, is what makes top performers.



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Author: Jason Karaman

Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service author, blogger and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife. I enjoy reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to JasonKaraman@ExpertCaller.com

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