This is a guest post from David Hoffeld, author of the best-selling book The Science of Selling. In episode 4 of the BoldIdea podcast, he talked about the science of selling.


Mastering the ability to sell bold ideas is often the difference between a successful idea and one that never gets traction. That’s why it’s so important for everybody to learn the art of sales. Whether it’s a church planter vision casting to build their launch team or a corporate manager trying to the lead charge to make change and measurably impact an organization. It makes no difference. A pitch, a vision cast or whatever you want to call it will be necessary. Regardless of what you call it, it’s a sale.

Over the last 50 years there have been thousands of scientific studies that have classified how the human brain is wired to be influenced. This science is extremely relevant in the profession of selling because it provides insights that show sales people how to guide their potential customers through the buying process.

Here’s a look at two science-based behaviors that are easy to execute and will instantly improve your sales effectiveness.

Behavior #1: Minimize Reactance

Why do signs that say, “No littering” or “Don’t litter” actually increase littering?

The answer is found in a powerful scientific principle called reactance. Reactance is the feelings that occur when people perceive that their ability to freely choose is being restricted. When reactance is triggered during the sale, our potential customers instinctively desire to rebel against what is being imposed upon them.

Sales people must understand reactance because often when attempting to advance the sale they will inadvertently stimulate reactance in their buyers. This is detrimental because when buyers feel reactance they will reject both the sales person and the sales person’s message.

The key to minimizing reactance is to let your potential customers know that they have a free choice to accept or reject what you are sharing. For instance, one fascinating research study identified that when asking for funds, compliance rose by 400% when the request was concluded with the statement, “Of course, it’s up to you.”

Behavior #2: Use Tag Questions

How do you guide your buyers in thinking through and affirming the value propositions you share during a sales call?

Numerous scientific studies have validated that one way to promote the contemplation of a statement of value is through using tag questions. Tag questions are value building statements that are converted into questions. These questions have been proven to amplify the persuasiveness of sales messages because they guide prospects in mentally digesting and verbally appraising an assertion of value. In other words, they serve your customers by helping them think through what you are sharing.

To construct a tag question simply add a concise questioning phrase to your value proposition. For instance, the statement, “This software would reduce your operational costs annually by 300k” evolves into the tag question “This software would reduce your operational costs annually by 300k, wouldn’t it?”

In summary, science has identified the causal factors that create and enable influence. When people align how they sell their idea, their vision, service or product with this science, their ability to effectively sell will skyrocket. Therefore, merging science with the sales process is a concept that is just too important to ignore. What will you be moving forward with your bold idea?