What You Need to Know about Your Prospect’s Mindset

By Christine Harrington

Many times the ill-prepared salesperson will dump all the features and benefits during the sales pitch. Why? Because he has no idea which benefit will interest the buyer.

Successful salespeople understand the fundamental principles about why a buyer buys. That’s why they will tailor their presentation around what the buyer is interested in.

If you’re not sure about whether you understand why your buyer buys, consider the following questions:

  • Do you treat every prospect the same?
  • Do you launch into the same canned pitch for every prospect?
  • Do you know the prospect’s needs, mood, personality, and prejudices?
  • Do you know what will motivate the buyer to buy?

If you want to close more deals, you need to reach the buyer on three levels: intellectually, emotionally, and personally. To do this, you need to go beyond the obvious to understand what really motivates your buyer. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are they, really?
  • What do they want?
  • How do they feel?
  • What are their biggest concerns and problems – and how can your product help solve them?

Though it is important to reach a buyer’s intellect – his or her logical side – reaching the buyer on an emotional level is more powerful, letting you tap into the emotions of pride, fear, greed, love, and even anger.

Buying out of anger may surprise you. Yet I’ve witnessed it. When I was selling preplanned funeral services, a distraught woman met with me. Her brother had just died at age 50. He had been suffering from an illness for years and she was so angry that he hadn’t “put his house in order” before he’d passed. She carried the weight of figuring out his finances, coupled with her guilt for feeling angry.   

When we met to arrange her brother’s funeral, I asked her one simple question…did she have children? She said yes, and she never wanted her children to be burdened by her own arrangements. We planned her funeral arrangements, too.

Because of her brother, she bought out of anger (an emotional reason)) and out of compassion for her children (a personal reason)

Granted, this example encompasses all strong emotions, which may not be the case for what you sell. Here’s another example.

For a little more than 15 years during my 40 years in selling, I sold group benefits. It’s a brutal world because it’s very competitive.

After six months of relentless pursuit, the benefits manager of a large hospital finally met with me. What got me in the door was some of my undercover work. I discovered the current carrier had denied a simple claim by a key employee – a claim my product covered – and the key employee was one of the VPs at the hospital.

All I did was tailor my sales presentation around the claim:

  1. Intellectual (made sense to listen to a carrier that covered a simple claim that had been denied by the current carrier)  
  2. Emotional (if they stayed with the current carrier, other employees would be denied the same simple claim)
  3. Personal (I used the VP as an example)

The word I used in describing the claim was “simple.” (Frankly, it shocked me the current carrier hadn’t covered the simple procedure.) Just adding the word “simple” to describe the denied claim was powerful. The benefit manager was still fuming about the denied claim, because the VP blamed him for not uncovering the “flaw” in the coverage.

Right or wrong, it was an emotional and personal pain point for the benefit manager. He bought, fueled by anger.

Keep in mind: The most powerful way you can reach the buyer is on a personal level.

To reach the buyer on all three levels – intellectual, emotional, and personal – you must understand the buyer’s core mindset. Their mindset will be made up of their beliefs, feelings, and desires.


  • What does your buyer believe?
  • What is their attitude toward your product?
  • What problems and issues does your product address?


  • How does the buyer feel? Are they confident or low key? Nervous or fearful?
  • What do they feel about major issues in their lives, business, industries, or the world?


  • What do they want?
  • What are their goals?
  • What changes do they want in their lives that your product can help them achieve?

Once you understand your prospect’s mindset, you know how to sell. It makes closing the sale much easier when you tailor your sales pitch around the buyer’s mindset.

Christine Harrington is The Savvy Sales Lady. She is a facilitator for Peak Performance Mindset workshops and a personal sales coach who helps sales professionals develop and improve their sales performance.

About Lisa

Editorial Director at SellingPower.com.
This entry was posted in Selling Skills. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ERROR: si-captcha.php plugin: GD image support not detected in PHP!

Contact your web host and ask them to enable GD image support for PHP.

ERROR: si-captcha.php plugin: imagepng function not detected in PHP!

Contact your web host and ask them to enable imagepng for PHP.