In recent decades, research in social psychology has unearthed many insights into the human psyche – what motivates us, how we think, and how we react in common situations. So the question may arise, why hasn’t this knowledge been tapped for anything useful, like, you know, making money? Well, actually it already has. In fact many of the sales techniques in use today had already been stumbled upon by sales people through trial and error before they had been experimentally validated. Here are 5 sales tips which can help you gain insight into your customers’ thought processes.
1. People Do Not Want You to Sell Them Anything
It is in our very nature to resist when we feel that people are trying to get us to do something, and to go along when people do not want us to do something. For example, if you tell someone they need to quit smoking because it is bad for their health, they will typically resist, unless they are already mentally in a place where they are ready to change. But if you act sympathetic and understanding, then they may say, “Well I have been meaning to quit/cut back.” People want to perceive that they are doing things of their own volition, not because they fell for the pitch of a slick salesperson.
A corollary of this idea is the “easy out” technique. You can give customers an easy out during your sales pitch, so that they don’t feel pressured.
2. Make it Personal
People want to feel cared for and understood. Also, it can’t be emphasized enough, we value ourselves more than anything. If you want to grab a person’s attention, make your sales pitch personal. Find out what motivates them, what’s important to them, and how your product or service can make their life better.
3. Use the Inoculation Effect
If you know that a customer is choosing between you and a competitor, alert them to the sales techniques of the competitor, and explain how your product or service is better, so that they won’t be swayed by your competitor’s sales pitch.
4. Most People Follow the Crowd
Social proof is the best form of advertising. People tend to think that if a lot of people are doing something, then it must be good. And a lot of times they’re right. This is known as a heuristic, or shortcut to decision-making. You can demonstrate social proof through testimonials, endorsements from industry leaders, or advertising sheer numbers of sales.
5. Use Reciprocity
When someone gives us something or does something for us, we feel the need to reciprocate. It’s part of being a decently socialized human being. You can take advantage of this impulse by offering a free gift to potential customers. This will also get them engaged with the product and make them want more. And then, the more time someone spends doing a given activity (learning about your product), the more they want to justify the use of the time that has already been spent. This is known as effort justification.
Whatever your sales goals may be, by understanding just a few of these basic intuitive concepts, you can go from delivering a dry information-based sales pitch to a smooth presentation that pushes all the right buttons and captures the customer’s interest.