There are many factors that go into a successful sale and for many, closing the deal is an uphill battle. You have the product, you’ve built your brand, customers should be knocking at the door immediately, right? Wrong. In fact, there’s a surprise player that needs to be intricately integrated into any salesperson’s process – psychology. Business psychology has always been a booming industry, but too many companies aren’t taking advantage of its benefits. Today, we will walk you through the art of turning both influence and authority into the all-mighty sale.
If there’s one person’s name that you need to know in this space, it’s Robert Cialdini. Cialdini is a pioneer in this space, having authored award-winning books like Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, The Small BIG: Small changes that spark a big influence and most recently, Pre-suasion. Each in some way discusses the six principles of influence and persuasion, which are what we’ll discuss today. They are: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, likeability and scarcity. They all depend on each other and are intertwined. As you read on, you’ll most likely already know how they’re present in your workplace and in your online presence:
When someone gives us something, we’re wired to want to give them something in return. Think about the last time you went to a grocery store. Did the person distributing samples have a smile on their face? That experience (when positive) drastically increases the number of that particular product which are sold, because you feel an obligation. The good cop/bad cop strategy is an example of this, because you want to do business with those that you like.
Let’s take this in practice to your online presence, how can you create reciprocity for your visitors? It all begins with the content, as you design a positive user experience. Maybe visitors to your site aren’t quite sure what product will meet their needs. Why not add a quiz that can provide recommendations based on their responses?
Another opportunity here is to surprise and delight your consumers. This is a good way to convert brand-new customers who aren’t yet familiar with your product. One of our favorite examples comes from Suja Juice. Suja was looking to reach customers who weren’t having the best day and revitalize them with a free juice. They took to social media and searched hashtags like, “#badday”, “#tired”, “#sick” and “#hungover”. They then messaged the users with a code for a free beverage. Consumers felt heard, recognized, and were more likely to buy a product from a compassionate brand like that.
Beauty brands specifically are also beginning to do more and more free gifts with purchase. Who doesn’t like free stuff, right? It can be as simple as a travel-sized shampoo bottle that you receive at checkout when you have decided to buy the full-sized shampoo bottle. The customer leaves with more than they expected.
Consistency and Commitment
This principle says that if you have a brand that shows commitment to its customers and does so consistently, the customers will feel the same way about the brand when making their purchasing decisions. We all operate on this principle in our personal lives. If you’re looking to make a healthier change in your life – like diet or exercise – experts always recommend that you vocalize and share your goals. Once you put it out there, you’re held accountable (at least to yourself) and will be more likely to deliver on the commitment. Another example would be a parent that congratulates the child on a regular basis for doing good work. The child will inevitably begin to believe that they’re a hard worker, when they deliver the same caliber of work.
Cialdini says, “Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment.” Consistency and commitment support and complement each other. Be consistent with the way that your brand shows up and offer micro-commitments to your consumer throughout the buying process. Encourage them to sign up for e-newsletters or mailing lists with consistent messaging and commitments around the services that your product or brand can offer. One simple example would be the simplicity of a return. If customers know that returns are so easy, should they not like the product, they’ll be incentivized to purchase.
Likeability has a lot of different angles to it that you can take advantage of as a brand. This goes back to the food sample example. Customers were more likely to purchase if the brand representative had a smile on his or her face and a friendly demeanor. The customer is not necessarily buying the product because they know anything about it, but because they had a positive experience.
Be likeable and relatable in the way that your storytelling has been designed. Companies whose sites showcase their personality and have easy-to-find about pages with company stories, speak to consumers.
It’s also valuable to use influencers and celebrities to promote your brand that your customers like and can relate to. We’re seeing a lot of subscription boxes and meal prep kits flooding the markets. A lot of these companies seed the same products to celebrities that make the most sense for their market. These celebrities not only promote the products on their own social channels, but then the brands can showcase their experiences in sponsored posts targeted to both existing and prospective customer bases.
If you had to choose between buying a French cookbook from a famous French or someone you’d never heard of, who would you be more likely to buy from? We’re willing to bet that you’d pick the former. So make sure that you’re seen as an authority in your industry. Work with competitors, join industry-wide organizations, show up at conferences and publications like you know what you’re talking about. Prioritize public relations coverage that shares your company’s wins. Even if you’re just starting out as a company, you have a blank slate to tell the story of why consumers should pick you.
As unfortunate as it is, we’re also an increasingly product-driven society. We like things. We see expensive things as better than more affordable options. We see the giant house on the corner, hear that a doctor lives there, and assume that he’s the best doctor. We see a fancy car, and someone in a sharp suit emerge, and we assume that he or she must be someone important. Because we make that association, we’re more likely to pay attention to what he or she has to say.
This one’s pretty straight-forward but paramount in a society where the majority of even children have ten different screens open at once. According to CNN, “For 8- to 12-year-olds, the average time spent using screen media every day was 4 hours and 36 minutes, according to a 2015 Common Sense Media report. Tweens spent an average of 4½ hours per day with screen media and 6 hours with all media, including reading and listening to music.”
So, be thoughtful about your social strategy. Think about what products need to be in sponsored posts, targeted at prospective customers. Think about the content and storytelling that you’re using on your own page. And think about where you can aggregate and promote both targeted products, as well as best-sellers. Focus on SEO as well as relationships with sites like amazon, that can push your product to the top of the list.
Scarcity is Cialdini’s sixth’s principle, although more recently he added “unity” to think about as well. He sees “unity” as the idea that we are influenced by those that we most closely identify with.
But, back to scarcity. We hate to miss out on things. We’re all about limited editions and seasonal offerings. If we think that someone else will get the last piece of chicken at the grocery store, it automatically becomes more appealing to us. So while you should be as transparent as possible with your customers, you can design pop-ups on your site and emails to encourage customers to look at products that are “scarce”. Add a pop-up with the message, “Act now, limited stock,” and you’ll be amazed at the products that fly off of the shelves.
If you incorporate these principles into your business strategy, your sales will be set-up for success. Reach out with any questions and be sure to check out our blog for more helpful information about taking your business to the next level.