Psychological Selling: 6 Different Ways to Make a Sale

Psychological Selling: 6 Different Ways to Make a Sale

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(image: Inc)

When it comes to describing your best salesperson what words or phrases would you choose? Having the “gift of the gab”, and being “approachable” and “confident” may come to mind, but have you ever thought beyond their personal characteristics and to their sales tactics?

Robert Cialdini, a professor of psychology and marketing, is one of the most noted figures in defining the psychology of selling and the different sales tactics that may be implemented in business. He has created 6 points that any salesperson, whether on the high street, online or by phone, should know.

1. Reciprocity

Reciprocity is a term given to the idea that when someone does something for us or gives us something we feel morally obliged to return the favor. And in sales this compelling feeling is highly effective.

How many times have you come home from a grocery store with items you weren’t planning on buying, but you felt you had to purchase after enjoying a number of free samples? That’s reciprocity for you.

Of course offering free samples of everything would not only be hectic, but very expensive to do, so successful sales people implement this idea in other ways.

Free gifts

One such way is offering a free gift with a purchase over a certain price. Everyone likes a freebie that much is true, and the offer of a free gift can entice a customer to spend a little more in order to obtain it.

This sales tactic is especially common in the fragrance and beauty industry. For example, here is a current promotion offered by Estēe Lauder:

If you have a limited supply of miniature items or ‘freebies’ then another way is to slip a free sample in with other product orders before shipping. This will make the recipient feel good and make them more likely to make a future purchase – maybe of a full sized version of such sample.

Another reciprocity sales tactic is to provide value for money through quality website content, through a frequently updated and helpful blog or a monthly newsletter. A quiz to help you find your ideal product is a great idea, or if you sell food, make sure to display a few recipes.

2. Commitment and Consistency

This theory states that once a person has made a commitment they will strive to remain consistent to it. Therefore if you can persuade a customer to commit to a newsletter, you are more likely to enjoy their custom in the future. Plus, the emails can tempt them with new products…

Ciadini also believes that if you can get the products in the customer’s hands, with no commitment, the chance of a sale increases tenfold. Perfume samples, the feel of a cashmere jumper or sitting in a new car are all examples of this.

And online stores do it too. A great example is the service offered by Glasses Direct, where they send customers a number of frames to try before they buy. The customer feels committed as soon as they send for the items and the probability of a sale increases, even though there is no obligation to buy.

3. Liking

This tactic revolves around a person’s likeability factor. It states that we are more likely as customers to buy from a person we like or have something in common with. That’s why retail managers are always telling their staff to smile at the customers!

As a result of this, many brands opt for celebrity endorsements, so the love of a star is transferred onto the product. After all, many people like to emulate their heroes and having the same products puts them one step closer to their idol.

But you don’t have to use big stars to piggyback onto this tactic.

Simply picture the items on a model who your customer can identify with. Scrap the supermodels and use ‘real’ people. For example, if you sell kitchen wear, show a mother in an apron, or if you sell tissues a person with a cold. It’s so simple, but works brilliantly.

Branding is all about getting customers to like you. Everything from your business depicts your company’s personality – from the color of your logo to website copy and social media activity.

4. Authority

Although, we may not agree with the actions or words of a person in authority, many of us feel compelled to comply out of respect for seniority. This is something that your sales approach can take advantage of.

Add credibility to your products by stating that it is expertly created, through hand crafting or a scientifically-approved method. Or start a ‘curation’ and have your MD or a senior staff member pick an item of the month.

The fact that a person in a senior business position likes the product may be enough to boost sales.

5. Social Proof

Social proofing is linked to the theory of liking a person. Humans are social beings, and often like things just because other people do (even if we don’t). It’s all about the feeling of fitting in, and not being the odd one out for going against the grain.

Including quotes from good reviews, ratings or press on your website is a sure fire way to give it credibility. Heck! This is an essential part of marketing and selling books.

(images: The Man Booker Prize and Handbag)

You can build upon this by displaying statements such as ‘best seller’, ‘most popular’ or ‘number one’. These are just the opinions of a select few individuals but the desirability dramatically increases by simply adding these few words.

6. Scarcity

“Act quickly! There are only a few items left. You don’t want to miss out!”

This may sound like pressuring someone into buying, but it is a proven sales techniques. Scarcity, or even rarity, is something we are psychologically programmed to be attracted to. It’s similar to the idea of being told as a teen you can’t do something and then having an increased desire to do it anyway. We want what we can’t have.

This can be transferred to the market place by stating that an offer won’t be on for much longer or that an item is selling out quickly. Seasonal or special addition items are likely to be in limited amounts. So advertise this – the better the price, the quicker they’ll sell.

Starbucks are experts at seasonal products and offers. Pumpkin Spice Latte anyone?

(image: Brand Eating)

These 6 points from Robert Cialdini are the basic outline for nearly all sales strategies, and implementing them in your online store could really boost sales.

Work through them 1 to 6 and let us know if psychological selling works for your business – we bet it does.

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