Image: Duke University – Psychology and neuroscience
Psychology is seen to play an important role in selling. Those who have sold, advised, or been part of deal-making are familiar with the uncertainty of the outcome of a customer meeting. This is especially so when it is a first meeting and the deal being chased is large. The nature of the pitch to the client should be the question that crops up time and again before the commencement of any client meeting.
The importance of customer psychology in successful selling is getting better understood. Client behavior is not uniform. Some focus only on the macro picture, while others like to go into details. Some like continuously opinionating about everything under the sun and disputing every statement. The seller, in such cases, rarely gets an opportunity to make the pitch.
I have encountered impatient clients, often in a continuous state of agitation bordering anger. They insist on total obedience, even obsequious behavior from the salesperson. They want things done as of yesterday but do not want to state their requirement clearly. They want the seller to somehow miraculously sense their need and offer the ideal solution.
Having spent over a decade and a half in business development work, I was curious to learn if there are technological solutions available that can help sales and business development teams improve sales conversion rates and handle difficult clients better.
Scouring through the list of startups and technology solution providers attending various global events, I came across Bizmind – a Finnish company attending the popular Nordics tech event – Slush.
Manne Pyykko, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Bizmind consented to a skype interview. Pyykko is a psychologist with over twenty years of B2B sales coach experience. The company is based out of Helsinki, Finland.
Bizmind, Pyykko told me, is the developer partner to the Artificial Intelligence IBM Watson program. He, along with a team of technology and domain experts, has built an Artificial Intelligence (AI) enhanced sales psychology platform that is recommended for use by B2B sales professionals.
The Bizmind team led by Pyykko has four key individuals who have over sixty years of work experience. Pyykko does not like Bizmind to be classified as a startup even though the company was registered only in 2014. His platform is an extension of their professional work over two decades old.
Pyykko gave me access to the app to write this article. I downloaded it from the Play Store on my smartphone. The first step required keying in my psychometric profile. This was done by answering simple questions directed at mapping an individual’s personality.
At the heart of the application lies the analytics framework, which captures the psychometric profile of each seller and buyer. It classifies individuals into four categories:
- Conscientious Analyst: Such an individual could be detail-minded, thorough, or quality oriented. His negative traits can be chosen from the following options – indecisive, critical, and pedant
- Convincing Driver can be decisive, goal-oriented, or pragmatic but could be too quick, controlling, or too outspoken
- A warm-hearted Diplomat could be empathic, flexible, or supportive but could be too permissive, hard to say No or too sensitive.
- Inspiring Visionary people can be uplifting, exciting, sociable, or improvising. But they could also be impatient listeners, unrealistic or superficial.
The salesperson captures the profile characteristics of each person he or she meets from the options indicated above. The AI algorithm behind the app works as soon as this information is entered.
Psychometric profiles are analyzed, and recommendations are specific to the psychometric profile of the individual with whom a meeting is scheduled to pop up. As more and more data on buyers and sellers is aggregated, given the nature of AI, a more precise set of recommendations would become available.
Client-seller interaction success often depends on mutual chemistry that the two can create during their interactions. The app’s recommendations help the salesperson tune the sales pitch to the client’s psychometric profile. Better alignment leads to better rapport. This, in turn, helps improve success rates.
The Bizmind application thus acts as a sales accelerator. The AI algorithm puts the application on a continuous learning and improvement path. The app has been tested by Pyykko et al. with success on marquee customers like Deloitte, Siemens, Cap Gemini I, Pfizer, UB, and Nordea.
Pyykko, though, is using Bizmind mainly as a sales coach. I understand the logic behind using this psychology mapping tool for sales training. This may be because its relevance is felt more by large and mature companies that can better appreciate its value.
Given its nature, it slowly and steadily improves sales performance. It is not a one-shot quick miracle solution. The small and medium-sized market often lacks the patience or the financial bandwidth to take a steady and incremental improvement in sales performance.
The volume of business as a sales training tool is limited. Bizmind will probably need to innovate and create more neuroscience-based marketing solutions to expand its offerings portfolio. The IBM Watson relationship could come in handy here. Already emotion capture is becoming part of the marketing professional’s AI tool kit. Bizmind could leverage this capability in the future.
The predictive analytics business is said to be growing at a CAGR of 30 percent and is expected to grow from US dollars 3 billion in 2015 to US 10 billion in 2020. Innovations like Bizmind have the potential to leverage this business in the future.