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Author, Speaker & Behavioral Science Influencer


Every aspect of sales effectiveness has been dissected in countless books and training programs. Every aspect, that is, except the impact of human irrationality on decision-making.

Applying behavioral science concepts and principles to the sales cycle in a systematic and holistic way, Ghosts in the Machine gives you a better understanding of the human beings you are communicating with and the hidden drivers behind the sometimes-irrational decisions they make, decreasing their resistance to you and increasing your effectiveness selling to them.

Ryan Voeltz

Ryan Voeltz, is a salesperson, banker, writer, and behavioral science enthusiast. He combines more than 20 years of sales experience with insights from behavioral science to present novel approaches to sales that complement and enhance existing go to market strategies. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

Gain a Better Understanding of the Common Challenges Salespeople Encounter at each Phase in the Sales Cycle

Real success in sales—or anything for that matter—requires sustained and consistent effort over time.




That said, understanding why certain phases of the sales cycle tend to unfold the way they do, why the same patterns and challenges emerge, will add tremendous value to those sustained and consistent efforts. Understanding why things happen the way they do will enable you to become more efficient and effective as you strive for success, and motivate you to apply your efforts in ways that will move the needle rather than waste your time. Understanding why something works increases the odds that you will be able to figure out how to succeed in approaching it, regardless of the exact details.


If you have been selling things for any amount of time, you have likely had the experience of working hard to convince someone of the value of your product or service, only to have your message fall on deaf ears. You try throwing every selling point you have at the wall, and yet nothing seems to stick. 


Then, one way or another, you learn what is really important to that person—their why, the reason behind their decision-making process. Suddenly, while you are still working just as hard as you did before, you are able to make progress, align your value prop with their desires and breeze through the rest of the sales process.


In these situations, the difference between failure and success is not in how hard you work. It is not necessarily making better use of a given sales methodology. And it definitely is not in leveraging some secret or shortcut. The difference is in understanding why, because understanding why allows you to choose courses of action that will help you turn your efforts into achievements.  That is what this book is about.


Ghosts in the Machine is about the whys behind the common challenges salespeople encounter at each phase in the sales cycle. Instead of promising secrets and shortcuts for success, or recreating the sales wheel, this book will help you understand why the challenges you face persist. In doing so, the guidance herein will work alongside your preferred sales methodology, whatever it may be. Along the way we will uncover plenty of really good hows—not secrets, but proven and effective strategies—but they are not nearly as important as the whys.

“If I have seen further it is by standing
on the shoulders of giants.”

Sir Isaac Newton


Why Did Ryan Write The Book?

In our exploration of our biases and decision-making glitches, we stand on the shoulders of giants. 


Much of what you will find in this volume has been taken from work done by the greatest minds known to behavior science. The likes of Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, Richard Thaler, Carol Dweck, Robert Cialdini, and Robin Dunbar, William von Hippel have done most of the heavy lifting to reveal how and why these behavioral ghosts influence human thinking—and how to mitigate their glitchy effects.


By applying behavioral science principles to the different phases of the sales cycle, I hope to shed light on some important and underappreciated factors that can have a dramatic impact on your success. In this book, I take the behavior science insights that most impact the sales process and organize them into an actionable system that will positively impact your business development efforts, no matter what you are selling or who you are selling it to.


This book is chock full of advice that is applicable to your life as a salesperson, regardless of the products or services you represent. It is also broadly applicable to all types of selling situations—from retail to business sales—and all types of customers—from individual consumers to c-suite executives. However, the guidance in this book is most applicable to the following types of sales:

  • Outside sales—the sale of products and services by salespeople that physically go out into a territory and meet with prospects and customers in person, as opposed to sales which are largely done online (i.e. virtual sales) or strictly over the telephone (i.e. inside sales)

  • Business-to-Business—the sale of products and services from one business to another, as opposed to sales to individual consumers or government organizations

  • Complex sales– sales processes that have long execution cycles, multiple competitors, large contract values and multiple stakeholders, as opposed to transactional sales like stock trading or office supplies

  • C-suite sales—sales to executives with a “C” in their job title (e.g. CEO, CFO, COO, etc.) who are the ultimate signing authority

  • Recurring business—a selling environment that requires an ongoing, long-term relationship between sellers and buyers 


If your selling circumstances require a certain level of personal, ongoing service to senior level executives at for-profit companies, and a long execution or implementation cycle, the advice and recommendations in this book are squarely in your wheelhouse.

“Sales is hard. Fortunately, there is something you can do to make it less hard: accept, understand, and embrace human irrationality.”

Ryan Voeltz

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