How do you close more deals to help your company grow? Any business expert who knows exactly how to answer that will likely be a billionaire. There is no perfect answer to the question. Human beings are complex, and any sales strategy has to embrace that complexity to even stand a chance of success.
That means doing more than just touting the features or even the benefits of your product or services. At some point, your audience will get tired of hearing that. Instead, it means tapping into deeper, often subconscious behavioral patterns and desires that relate your brand to your audience.
You might not know it, but psychology plays a key role throughout the sales funnel. From brand awareness to generating customer loyalty, some of the best brands in the world are leveraging psychological concepts to attract, convince, and convert their audience. Consider these 6 ways to use human psychology in your quest for closing more deals.
Warning: Some of these concept sound pretty high-minded. Fortunately, most of them can actually be broken down into simple terms, and none exemplifies that more than our first tip.
1) Leverage the Reciprocity Principle
Sounds fancy, right? In fact, the reciprocity principle refers to the fact that:
we are hard-wired to respond positively to a gift, even if we didn’t ask for it, or even want it. We automatically feel indebted to the giver, regardless.
This is why samples and promotional gifts work so well. If you can give your audience something in advance, they’ll feel compelled to respond in kind, often with a purchase immediately or down the road. Don’t be afraid to give up value throughout the sales process or even during the actual sales pitch. Human nature makes it such that you will increase your chance of closing that deal.
2) Create a (Realistic) Sense of Urgency
In psychology, the scarcity principle is “the tendency to place a higher value on things that are perceived as rare while devaluing things that are seen as common or abundant.” You see it used throughout marketing strategies. Limited sales, ‘while supplies last’, and countdown clocks are all common examples.
Creating that sense of urgency makes your audience think of your product or service as rare, leading them to faster decisions. But be careful. As soon as you start to sound dishonest, or it becomes obvious that you’re trying to create a false sense of urgency, your potential customers will jump off. We’ll discuss that tendency more in the cognitive dissonance tip below.
3) Embrace the Power of the Crowd
Nobody likes to make decisions in isolation. That’s what has made social proof so powerful as a marketing and sales tool. The basis for it is simple: we implicitly believe, rightly or wrongly, those majority decisions are good. When we’re uncertain of what to do next, we consult our friends, family, and even complete strangers through online reviews.
Successful salespeople tend to embrace that power. They ensure that their message, up to the closing pitch, comes not just from them but other customers. They embrace references, testimonials, and social selling. They know that the voice of others automatically adds a level of credibility that a single salesperson or brand voice could never accomplish.
4) Avoid Generating Cognitive Dissonance
So far, we’ve focused on the positive. However, there is one major negative psychological concept that sales professionals have to avoid: cognitive dissonance. Put simply, cognitive dissonance theory states that
Conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors… produce a feeling of mental discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance.
Stated differently, when your audience receives conflicting information about your product or service, they experience a level of discomfort (often subconscious) that makes them want to reduce that conflict. Often, that leads to lost sales as audiences who cannot reconcile these conflicting facts simply walk away.
This problem occurs all the time in sales. A boastful marketing promise is not followed up in the sales pitch. The pitch itself includes contradicting information, seems dishonest, or disconnects from general perceptions about the product. When that happens, chances are your customers are gone. To close the deal, you have to make sure that your sales pitch is a natural follow-up to marketing messages, market perceptions, and audience expectations.
5) Be Honest About Your Shortcomings
It’s tempting to boast. If you truly believe in your product, you want to sell it. Starting to talk about potential downsides seems totally out of the question. But actually, going down that route might actually beneficial to your sales goals.
Social psychologist Fiona Lee found that actually, companies who are honest about their faults and don’t shy away from them actually tend to perform better. She concluded that customers look favorably on companies who sell their products that way, implying credibility and a measure of self-confidence above the norm. As long as you counterbalance your shortcomings with actual strength, this can actually become a powerful sales tactic.
6) Play to the Emotions
Finally, and perhaps most basically, make sure that all of your marketing and sales effort, even to the last conversion moment, are based on emotions. Psychologists tend to agree that even in major purchases when we engage in rational processes to find the right option, is almost always irrational.
Think about buying a house because it ‘just felt right’ or choosing a college based on the campus tour. With both simple and complex decisions, your audience tends to boil it down to these emotions in the final decision.
That’s important to remember as you try to close more deals. Even in the final pitch, don’t take emotions out of the equation. Instead, play to them in a measured way to maximize your opportunities in trying to convince your audience that your product or service is the right choice.
In reality, sales and human psychology are almost impossible to separate. Whether or not you embrace the above concepts, your audience will act based on them. Is your company prepared to make the necessary adjustments? How can you optimize your processes to maximize your conversion and closing opportunities? Tapping into human psychology should be at the core of your answer.