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Selling yourself

How we can use Psychology to make thousands of pounds, get the job we want - and fall in love.

Mike Bird

on 22 October 2016

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Transcript of Selling yourself

Selling Yourself
How to use Psychology
to make thousands of pounds,
get the job you want,
and fall in love
Mike Bird
Director, MATCX Ltd

Chief Operating Officer, Ofqual
Executive Director of Investigations & Operations, PHSO
Head of Marketing Delivery, VocaLink
Customer Experience Director, BT
Consultant and partner with Kepner-Tregoe (an international management and training consultancy)
Other jobs: Actor / director, Parliamentary proof reader,
About me
What do we think when
we hear the word ‘sell’?
Aron, A., Melinat, E., Aron, E. N., Vallone, R., & Bator, R. (1997).The experimental generation of interpersonal closeness: A procedure and some preliminary findings. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 363-377
Rowan, D, (2011), http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2011-11/08/how-to-find-love-in-45-mins?page=all, Wired magazine
Carroll, Lewis. "What the Tortoise Said to Achilles". Mind, n.s., 4 (1895), pp. 278–80
Hofstadter, D., (1979), Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. See the second dialogue, entitled "Two-Part Invention.“
Ariely, D, (2010), Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Harper Perennial
Bower, G. H., 1981. Mood and memory. American Psychologist, 36 (2), pp. 129–148
Fisher, R., Ury, W.,& Patton, B., (1992), Getting to Yes, second edition, Hutchison, Century Business
Gibson, J.J.,  (1979), The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, Houghton Mifflin
Schkade, D.A., & Kahneman, D. (1998). "Does living in California make people happy? A focusing illusion in judgments of life satisfaction". Psychological Science, 9, 340–346.
Martin, P. Y., Hamilton, V..E., McKimmie, B. M. & Martin, R., (2006), Effects of caffeine on persuasion and attitude change: The role of secondary tasks in manipulating systematic message processing, European Journal of Social Psychology
McCraney, D., http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/07/27/anchoring-effect/ (great explanation of the anchoring effect)
Balachandra, L., http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/01/should_you_eat_while_you_negot.html, Harvard Business Review blog (accessed 7 April 2013)
Goldstein, N., Martin, S.J. & Cialdini, R.B., (2007), Yes! 50 secrets from the science of persuasion, Profile Books
Shelley, M.K., (1994), Gain/loss asymmetry in risky intertemporal choice, Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 59: 124-59
Pfeffer, J., Fong, C. T., Cialdini, R. B. & Portnoy, R. R., (2006), Overcoming the self-promotion dilemma: interpersonal attraction and extra help as a consequence of who sings one’s praises, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32:1362-74
Freedman, J.L. & Fraser, S.C., Compliance without presssure: the foot-in-the-door technique, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4: 195-203
Rackham, R., (1995) SPIN Selling, Gower
Tybout, A.M. & Yalch, R.F., (1980), The effect of experience: a matter of salience?, Journal of Consumer Research, 6: 406-13
Martin, P.Y., Laing, J., Martin, R. & Mitchell, M. (2005), Caffeine, cognition and persuasion: evidence for caffeine increasing the systematic processing of persuasive messages, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35: 160-82
Bruner, J.S. and Minturn, A.L. (1955). Perceptual identification and perceptual organisation, Journal of General Psychology 53: 21-8. - See more at: http://www.simplypsychology.org/perceptual-set.html#sthash.NPRkPkxQ.dpuf
What's happening?
What have you got coming up?
What are you aiming to do or achieve?

Given what you want to achieve,
what issues are you facing ?
What is the impact of these issues on what you want to achieve?
What would you like to learn in today's session
which could help you with
these issues?

To deliver or give
up in violation of
duty, trust or
loyalty and
especially for
personal gain

To betray —often
used with ‘out’
<sell out their

To exact a price for <sold their lives dearly>

Merriam Webster Dictionary

To deliver into slavery for money

To give into the power of another <sold his soul to the devil>

To dispose of or manage for profit instead of in accordance with conscience, justice, or duty <sold their votes>
Neil Rackham
Post-grad research in Experimental Psychology,
University of Sheffield

He and team observed more than 35,000 sales calls to see what behaviour led to better results

And the outcome was SPIN...
SS Pysche
To help someone to choose
to exchange value*
This is something we all do
all the time!
So why
do so many of us
fear selling?
Selling is about choice....
But choice is irrational
In the story of Achilles and the Tortoise, Lewis Carroll proved - using logic, mind you - that accepting an argument cannot be forced by rational logic alone.

Choice is, or can be, legitimately irrational.
There is lots of research to back this up.
Dan Ariely's book,
Predictably Irrational
, offers a great overview of this area.
The other scary thing about sales:
value is perceived, not absolute
David Ricardo, 1772 -1823, described the
Law of Comparative Advantage
in his exciting best seller:
The Law of
Comparative Advantage:
Sell the thing you
are best at...
But the kicker was this:
In a good sale, both parties are better off
So if selling is about understanding (and influencing) the underlying (and potentially irrational) causes of our choices...
...and if selling is also about understanding (and influencing) how we perceive...
...then selling is matter of
Luckily, Psychology gives us many tools for the job
We are selling all the time - so why is it scary?
Using psychology to help sell - SPIN
Some other psychology tools
Special case: getting the job you want
...and falling in love
Let's begin by learning about SPIN
SPIN is a robust, practical process for selling that has been proven all over the World.

It is about having conversations to uncover relevant value.
Examples of questions could be:
What's happening at the moment?
What are you aiming to do?
Tell me why you're doing X?
What's involved when you do X?
Questions like these:
What challenges or obstacles are in your way?
How difficult will it be to get to your goal? Why?
What's going wrong?
What would you like to improve?
What's the impact of this issue?
How much effort or money does this problem cost you?
What can't you do because of this problem?
How does this problem make you feel?
Questions like these:
How would it help if this problem was removed?
If we could fix this problem, in what other ways would that help?
What would you do with the savings,
if the cost of this issue could be reduced?
How would removing this problem help you achieve your goal?

SPIN is a question-based sales process
It is about understanding problems and solving them.

It is about asking the right questions in the right order.
So where can we use SPIN?
...When we're selling our stuff, like a car...
...When we are pitching an idea where
we need someone else's agreement...
...When we seek charity sponsorship...
...When we work in business
(all the time, not just in sales)...
fun of all...
... to protect ourselves when others try to sell to us...
But our Psychology toolbox contains
much more to help us sell in everyday life
Cognitive Psychology
tools for selling
How can we minimise 'cognitive load'?
How can our words be more persuasive?
The more we use language which is relevant to our customer, the easier it is for them to understand the value of what we are proposing.


...and his ideas were reinforced by Marjorie Shelley (1994) who showed that the idea of loss avoidance was three times more persuasive than the idea of saving money...

People avoid losses in preference to making gains
Perceptual Psychology tools for selling
How can attention affect perception?
What is the anchor of Paraguay?
What's wrong in this ad for
Colgate toothfloss?
Expectation affects perceptual set (Bruner & Minturn 1955).

When selling, we can direct our customer's attention by the questions we ask.
Is the population of Paraguay
more or less than 25 million people?
How many people do
you think live in Paraguay?
6.5 million people live there.
Was your estimate lower,
or higher?

Most people will estimate higher. This is the anchor effect in action.
The anchor effect means that in the absence of data, we work from the initial point of reference which we are given.
Daniel Kahneman is a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize for his work on decision-making. One of his breakthroughs is the idea of 'loss-avoidance"
Behavioural Psychology
tools for selling
Do customers respond better to rewards or penalties?
How does timing affect customer behaviour?
What did we learn from Skinner and co.?
Neuropsychology tools
for selling
What activity improves the profitability of negotiation?
What drug makes us more persuadable?
An experiment by
Principles of Political Economy and Taxation
Behaviour is more strongly and sustainably affected by rewards than punishments...
...and don't read the small print.
...which is why we impulse buy...
Immediate rewards are much more motivating than deferred ones...
When we want it, we want it now!
...Having lunch!
According to a Harvard study by Lakshmi Balachandra (2013), subjects who negotiated over lunch secured more profitable deals than those who did not..
...1, 3, 7 - trimethylxanthin...
...more commonly known
as caffeine.
Martin et al. (2005) found that subjects who had consumed caffeine were 35% more likely to be favourably disposed to a proposition than those who had not.
Social Psychology tools for selling
How do other people affect our choices?
How do feet help sales?
Why do names help to sell?
Who is best to blow our trumpet?
Have you ever played
Milgram's crowd game?
According to a study by Cialdini, R., et al. (2006),
one of the most effective ways to
theft of petrified wood fragments was to warn people that wood was being stolen at the rate of 14 tons a year...
...as one person remarked: "We'd better get ours now..."

This is the notion of 'social proof' - others like me are doing X, so maybe I should do X as well...
We can use social proof positively too...
In 1966, Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser studied 'Foot in the Door' technique. They showed that social compliance to significant requests greatly increased if the person had accepted a relevant, smaller request first.
When Luke Skywalker tells Darth Vader, "there is good in you, " he is applying
labelling technique
Tybout and Yalch (1980), showed that labelling people as 'above-average citizens likely to vote' increased their likelihood of voting by 15%
Pfeffer, J., et al, (2006) found that credentials through a third party were much stronger than if the credentials were offered directly.

If someone else introduces us, we make a better first impression...
So let's revise what we have learned with a special case:
Getting the job we want.
A practical strategy using Psychology to sell ourselves into the job
we really
Job search strategy:
Getting started
Identify the kind of job we want and the kind of company we want to work for
Identify someone we know who knows something of, or someone in, the area
See if we can contact them directly, or better, find someone to introduce us
Intention directs attention
Credentials are more effective
from third parties
Job search strategy:
Set up the meeting
When we contact them, we tell them we don't want to talk to them about a job.
It is helpful to avoid
negative consequences if we want to engage people
Tell them we are contacting them as we have heard that they know about the area we are interested in
Labelling them as expert may make them more willing to share their expertise
Tell them that we are talking to people like them to get feedback
on our CV
Tell them that you only want 15 minutes of their time
Social proof can encourage co-operation
A small commitment is a foot in the door...
Job search strategy:
Meet them
Offer to meet for coffee; better yet, for lunch
People are more persuadable with coffee
Before we ask for their thoughts on our CV, we ask them about their business (gently).
We won't normally have time to do a full SPIN cycle, but just asking situation questions is really valuable.
We take them through our CV, using vocabulary and language most
relevant to them
Note any edits to our CV that they suggest and thank them, even if the feedback is harsh.

(We don't fight, disagree or defend too much...)
Immediate positive reinforcement is the best motivator.
Now we go for the real 'close'. We ask:
We are asking them to provide third-party validation of our credentials to someone else.
Job search strategy:
The close
Job search strategy:
We follow the meeting immediately
with a thank you note
Reinforcing, yes, but it's also just good manners
After a day or two, we send them our revised CV, again with thanks and seeking their opinion of our edits.
Once more rewarding their help - and it strengthens labelling as well
After we meet the person to whom they referred us, we make sure to update them afterwards and thank them again for the referral.
Again, strengthening their label as someone who helps...
We lather, rinse,
repeat with each person to whom we are referred
Job search strategy:
what happens
will already
have our CV
We will have already had
our first interview
And we will have been

As far as they are concerned, who else should they even look at for this job? It is likely to be faster, cheaper and more immediately rewarding for them to employ us than to go to the market.

Our use of Psychology is helping us to sell our most important product - ourselves
More people than we imagine will be happy to see us
We will understand what matters in the sectors we want to enter
We will learn relevant vocabulary
We will get CVs that better describe us
We will get CVs that maximise the perception of the value we can bring
We will get a network in the domain where we want to get a job
"90% of business is just showing up."
- Woody Allen
...and, when a job appears in or near our network...
We sell all the time
To recap:
And what was that about falling in love?
Aron et al. (1997) developed and tested a set of questions which, it is promised, can help pairs develop "extraordinary closeness" in 45 minutes. As a bonus, here are the questions...
(Well, it is selling, of a sort).
...and deals are more profitable with lunch.
: I find the best first Situation question (and a great ice-breaker) is to ask:
Are you busy
"Who else should I talk to?"

"Can I use your name?"
Selling is about helping people to perceive value and to make a choice - Psychology is immensely valuable with both
SPIN helps, especially when we don’t know what to say – just ask a question from the process
There are lots of tools we can use
We are admirably equipped to get the job we want…
Questions to develop closeness 1
What questions do you have?
Mike Bird




URL for this Prezi:
Mike Bird
University of St Andrews
24 October 2016

like them
Isle of

To give up to
another for
something of value

To give up in return
for something else
especially foolishly
or dishonorably
<sold his birthright
for a mess of pottage>

To deliver personal services for money

eed / Payoff
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a "perfect" day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Questions to develop closeness 2
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you've dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven't you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people's?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
Questions to develop closeness 3
25. Make three true "we" statements each. For instance "We are both in this room feeling..."
26. Complete this sentence: "I wish I had someone with whom I could share..."
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things that you might not say to someone you've just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven't you told them yet?
34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner's advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

What questions do you have?

Using SPIN is a great way to pick up our customer's language
Full transcript