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Sales Psychology by Nick Kolenda: Summary & Review

Sales Psychology by Nick Kolenda: Summary & Review 

Sales Psychology is a 4-part online course on the psychology of effective sales in which Nick Kolenda, the author, teaches how to communicate your product in a way that (a) feels easy and natural, and (b) influences the prospect to buy.

Bullet Summary

  • Part 1: Sales Material
  • Part 2: Lead Generation
  • Part 3: Closing a Sale
  • Part 4: Bonuses

Full Summary

About The Professor: Nick Kolenda has been researching behavioral science for the past decade. He's known for explaining complex ideas in a clear and lighthearted style. He's also the author of Methods of Persuasion and founder of nickkolenda.com.

Part 1: Sales Material

#1: Sales Page Layout

  • “Help your visitors imagine buying your product or service (e.g. place the final destination in the background, place the purchase button on top of something so that it is / appears closer to the user, etc.)
  • “Give visitors as much information as is necessary—no less, no more (e.g. hide secondary details in expandable mediums—like toggles, etc.).”

#2: Pricing (On the Sales Page’s Layout)

  • “Enhance the mental stimulation of clicking the purchase button (e.g. place a positive statement—such as Instant Access—near the button, etc.).”
  • “Distinguish the purchase button from nearby elements, especially prices (e.g. add an arrow or spacing, use different colors, etc.).” 
  • “Place a numerically larger number to the left of the price.”
  • “Indicate when the price will increase.”

#3: Benefits

  • “Every product has a hierarchy of benefits. Start your sales copy at the top of the hierarchy, and then move downward.” 

E.g.

You may notice here that the bottom of the hierarchy lists the features of this example product (a camera).

Many sales resources out there recommend avoiding mentioning any product features because the customer doesn’t come for the features, they come for how the features will solve their problem (i.e. the benefits of the product's features). 

So, it’s widely recommended that anyone looking to persuade a prospect should stay away from using features as a persuasion tool.

Yet, Kolenda says that there are exceptions to that general rule and, based on certain studies, features can be quite persuasive in moving the customer closer to buying.

#4: Your Sales Copy

  • “Keep minimal copy on the surface of a page, yet detailed copy below the surface.” 
  • “Start with a relatable scenario that seems unique. This copy will activate an existing memory in the customer’s brain. Then you can mold this imagery to include the desired action.”

#5: Your Sales Videos

  • “Design a thumbnail that (a) seems effortful and (b) captures the key identifiers of your product or service.”
  • “Replace broad generalizations with concrete examples.”

E.g.

Broad: How can you improve your website?

Concrete: How should you display prices? Which images should you show? What should you write on sales pages?

  • “Suggest an alternative to ‘not buying’ so that you dilute this imagery (e.g. ‘If you’re not sure whether you’re ready to hop into XYZ Course today, you can check out our other related content on our blog.’).”
  • “Show the desired motor behavior (e.g. clicking the purchase button)”
  • “If you sell educational products, teach something in your sales materials.”
  • “Blur a later portion of preview videos.”

#6: Social Proof

  • “You only need social proof when decisions are emotional or risky. Otherwise, customers might perceive the decision to be larger.” 
  • “Testimonials should (1) Come from sources who are similar to target buyers, (2) repeat the words that are occurring in the minds of buyers, (3) seem authentic and outside the control of marketers.”
  • “Replicate testimonials in a design program to enhance the visual quality.”

Part 2: Lead Generation

Here is Kolenda’s five-step process for generating leads.

Step #1: Isolate a Market

“Compile prospects that match relevant traits you’re looking for in a client (e.g., revenue, traffic, interest).”

Step #2: Find Value

“Find something that could help each prospect — it should be simple, personalized, and immediate. Ideally, this idea should help your full list of prospects (e.g. review the webpages on their website and make notes of tweaks / changes / adjustments they could make to boost sales, conversions, etc.).”

Step #3: Deliver (Some of) the Value You Found

  1. “Find somebody relevant on LinkedIn who works for the organization.”
  2. “Send a short email delivering some of the value and offering to deliver the rest if they reply that they’re interested.”

Step #4: Pitch and Close

  1. “Set up a call to deliver more value.”
  2. “Give them two more ideas.”
  3. “Offer a small project to deliver more value.”

Step #5: Deliver and Seed

“While delivering the small project, position this work as the completed first step of a larger project.”

The example that Kolenda provides is if you own a yogurt shop. And, you distribute coupon punch cards that gets punched each time a returning customer comes back for more yogurt. With enough hole punches and they get a free yogurt.

When the customer has bought their first yogurt and receives their first coupon punch card, don’t hand them a blank card. Position the yogurt they just bought as the completed first step of a larger project (the goal of that free yogurt). Hand them a coupon punch card that already has two return visits punched out.

That way, they’ll feel more motivated to “finish what they started” by finishing the rest of the coupon card’s punch slots with more return visits (see “drive their momentum”).

Part 3: Closing A Sale

#1: Sales Calls

  1. “Sales calls are 80% asking questions 20% pitching.”
  2. “Immerse prospects into a hypothetical narrative. Describe their exact experience as a customer or clientKolenda says that a powerful way to persuade the prospect is to make them imagine hiring you. And, you can do that by immersing your prospects into a hypothetical narrative (e.g. show the deliverables: “This is the weekly report you’ll get from us,” show example scenarios: “Here’s a typical email that our team might send you,” show physical locations: “Here’s the studio where you’ll meet our production team,” etc.).
  3. “Determine the first step that a prospect would take as a client (e.g. schedule a kickoff call). Then complete this step during the call."

#2: Questions

  • Be aware and prepared that, “Many businesses should [and will likely] ask questions in these 8 categories: Revenue, Users, Product, Website, Goals, Current Process, Company, Project.”

#3: Objections

  • Kolenda recommends, “Resolve objections before they manifest [by paraphrasing relevant answers that you extracted during the call].” (e.g. In the beginning of the sales call ask, “How much are you doing in annual revenue?” That way, if it’s a good sized amount, you can remove the objection, “We don’t have the budget.”)
  • “Before asking for the sale, preemptively address each possible objection.”

#4: Sales Proposals - Part 1

  • “Design a minimal sales proposal that still looks beautiful.”
  • “Label the proposal the name of your service (instead of ‘Sales Proposal’).”
  • “Group your logo and the prospect’s logo in the footer. This visual partnership will strengthen the mental imagery for a conceptual partnership.”

#5: Sales Proposals - Part 2

  • “Describe their problem based on information that you gathered during the call. Then describe how your product can fix that problem.”
  • “Add an inexpensive item at the top of your list of deliverables. It will help the prospect imagine starting this project.”
  • “Avoid round prices (which can seem arbitrarily determined).”
  • “Be careful when listing names of clients. Only show clients that are similar to the target business.”
  • “Show the next step. Display a previous step that has already been completed (e.g., ‘Read Proposal’).”
  • “After sending the proposal, follow up every week with value.”

Cons

  • Some of the information didn’t convince me

Kolenda teaches a few tactics that he admits himself are quite contrarian, such as putting your prices in red. Or, that when doing lead generation, after sending one email, you shouldn’t follow up again. 

When providing the reasons behind his teachings, some of those reasons didn’t convince me.

  • Provides disconnected information

Kolenda has written other books. And, I was still expecting the information in Methods of Persuasion to be well referenced throughout this course.

So, I was surprised to find that its teachings were only ever mentioned here and there on topics he may have covered in those other two books (big enough persuasion topics such as cognitive dissonance).

At one point, when doing a teardown of his own sales page for one of his courses, Kolenda started to talk about how he might replace the arrow that points to his “Start Course” button with one that has a hand drawn design because, “...A hand drawn arrow might activate muscles in the user’s hand and, with those muscles activated, users might be able to imagine themselves clicking that [Start Course] button.”

A good tip. But, compared to the importance of good copywriting and positioning oneself as an authority in their space, I couldn’t see how this minor change could warrant the investment of my time to learn about. 

I’d rather focus on the 20% of efforts that will produce 80% of my results. And, I don’t think a hand drawn arrow is significant enough to fit into that 20%.

  • Contained less content than I was hoping for and sometimes felt time-wasting

With a steady focus, I finished this course in roughly a day and a half. Compare that to a Masterclass course which took me nearly a month, or my Yale college course which took me 2-3.

That’s not to say quantity is always better. Certainly, quality over quantity is a great general rule to follow and live by.

That’s to say that I was hoping for more than a day and a half’s worth of high-quality content.

And, since what I came for was practical strategies and scripts that I could learn and run with, sometimes I felt Kolenda went too deep into the psychology research of “why this is what it is”.

  • No sales scripts for sales calls and only one lead generation strategy

His sales page for this course says, “Exact words to say in your emails and phone calls.”

There was one strategy that he shared for handling objections. That lesson came with a couple of PDFs that include questions to ask in the sales process and common objections. 

But, as far as an A-Z sales script, you won’t find one in here yet. 

And, that was disappointing for me because Ramit Sethi provides one in a course of his that isn't even a sales course (see “Earnable”).

His sales page for this course also says, “How to find relevant prospects,” which is lead generation. Unfortunately, he only shares one strategy and that approach may not work for you depending on your target market / ICP (ideal customer profile).

Pros

  • All of his notes, all done for you

Makes reviewing the material SO much easier.

If you value your time, this will be a pro that you'll appreciate the heck out of.

  • He’s always updating his courses

When I first tried to get a look at this course, it was closed while he was updating it along with a few others.

And, he’ll be raising the price as he continues to raise the value of this course. 

  • Bonuses are robust, bountiful, and top notch

Kolenda even includes a Mystery Bonus that many would be both surprised and very excited to receive—especially if they’re fans of Kolenda’s work (I’m not going to spoil it, but if you’re thinking it’s a free copy of all of his books, a meet and greet, or something like that, it’s even better :).

  • Shares his love for psychology

I love that, especially when Kolenda showed his face on screen, you could see him oozing with excitement to share what he knows about the inner workings of the human mind.

It made me feel more like taking a deeper interest in more than the persuasion strategy aspects of the course, but the psychology references as well.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood

I wanted to give this course either a 7/10 or a 7.5/10 rating.

But, thinking back to this review, I think I'd give it an 8/10.

I was looking for more in terms of sales scripts, but the surrounding content was so impactful when we applied it to the Power University sales page that I think it's earned that extra star.

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