If You Use Priming, Your Sales Results will Soar!

How do you prepare for notable sales activities at the moment?

For instance, what do you do to prepare for a new business meeting? Or a pitch? Or a close?

I don’t mean how do you plan, I mean how do you mentally prepare?

For most of my sales career I didn’t mentally prepare for anything. I just went into things with a positive outlook and ambition.


That was until I heard of priming.

Priming is defined as something which prepares something else for use or action. In psychology it is the technique of  exposing the subject to some form of stimulus to create or influence a corresponding response.


Psychologist William Cox in his publication “Stereotypes, prejudice and depression: the integrated perspective” talks about the sheer power of priming. He conducted a study to use priming on a patient whom had a self-image of incompetence. He merely asked her to reflect on specific circumstances where she had been competent in the past. This and this approach alone changed her self-image. Reflecting on past experiences enabled her to dispel her insecurities of incompetence. William did nothing more than use priming effectively.

Tony Robbins, one of my heroes, uses and advocates priming. In his book ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ he delves into the topic in relation to reference experiences. He metaphorically describes how priming acts like a table. Every positive experience you have adds another leg to that table to make it more and more secure, re the extract below:


“a belief is nothing but a feeling of certainty about what something means. If you believe you are intelligent, it’s because you have activated certain references to support that feeling of certainty. Maybe you’ve had the experience of successfully tackling mental challenges, such as acing a test or running a business well. All of these reference experiences act as ‘table legs’ to support the idea, or ‘table top’ that you are intelligent.”

Tony Robbins – Awaken The Giant Within

Psychologist John Bargh conducted an experiment regarding priming which has become rather well renowned.


He involved a group of undergrads as subjects and presented to them five scrambled word groupings. For instance there would be a phrase such as ‘blue the from is sky’ which the task of the subjects would be to make sense of this and convert it into it’s appropriate phrase in this case ‘the sky is blue.’ To all intents and purposes, the undergrads thought that this was the study, but it wasn’t.


The actual study came next.


He split the undergrads into two groups. Group one he incorporated words such as ‘ intrude,’ ‘bother,’ and ‘rude’ into the scrambled word groupings. Group two were presented with words like ‘patience,’ ‘polite’ and ‘courteous.’ The real study happened after the subjects had each individually conducted their scrambled word groupings. They were told that once they’ve completed their groupings to walk down the hall to get their next task from the experimenter.


The researchers staged the next part. They made it so that the experimenter was in deep, continuous conversation in the hall way with another person. What the researchers wanted to find out was the power of priming. What would be the average time for the individual of group one or two to interrupt the experimenters conversation.


Well you guessed it. Individuals from group one were the fastest to interrupt at five minutes. Whereas 82% of those in group two hit the time limited of 10 minutes, they didn’t interrupt at all.


How astonishing is this. The only difference between the two groups is the vocabulary they had been mulling over just 5-10 minutes earlier. Yet something so insignificant influenced their mental state so greatly that they acted in very different ways.


This is the power of priming. The words that you use and the things that you reflect on effect your mental state, your outlook and thus your performance.


That is why priming is so essential for any person, especially for us sales people.


So the question is how do you develop your priming?

Well the key to anything like this is to make it personal to you. In William Cox’s study above, we believe the most powerful form of priming is to think of your own past experiences. Like Tony Robbins said, every instance you have of positive reference acts as an additional leg for your table. The more legs the stronger that internal view will be of your proficiency in said area.


So start by asking yourself

  • What examples do I have that will back up my acumen and proficiency in said area?

Once you’ve done this ask yourself

Where can I apply priming?

  • At the start of the day
  • Before a meeting
  • Before a close


The occasions where you use priming is down to you, the most important thing is that you use it. Priming is a proven technique to change your mental state. It can be the resource that fills you with utter confidence which enables you to book that meeting, make that stellar pitch or close that sale!

Just have a try of this yourself and witness how powerful it can be.


In a future article we’re going to introduce what we at Sales Icon Coaching encourage from a priming perspective. In the interim before that article though have a think about your own priming. Think about what situations you could use this technique to prepare and help you to get in the right state of mind to be successful in that following activity.


Also I’d love to hear about what other sales people use for priming at the moment, do direct message me on LinkedIn or comment on the article. 


Happy Priming!


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