Written By: Christopher Croner, Ph.D.
Because customers are people, first and foremost. And since people are driven by emotions, when they are approached with a cause they believe in, they are compelled to take action. The ability to champion a cause that your customers can help you with is a great psychological method for improving your sales process. In fact, over 64% of customers say they have a strong connection to a brand because they share values with the company.
When you think of psychology, do you imagine someone sitting in a room with a psychologist, sharing his/her thoughts and worries?
Well, while the practice of psychology does involve therapy sessions like the one mentioned, it can also apply to other areas in life—like sales.
When it comes to making purchases, emotions play a much bigger role than you might realize.
In fact, some experts believe that 90% of our purchasing decisions are made subconsciously.
In other words, when it comes to selling, knowing how to appeal to your customers on an emotional level plays a big role in how successful you are.
Still, as a sales manager, you do not want to waste any more time and money on ineffective sales techniques.
So if you want to help improve your struggling sales team, here are some basic psychology-backed sales techniques that will help them sell more.
Sure, you have a great company, but nobody is perfect. Not you. Not your customers.
And with that admission comes something quite powerful—a connection.
Your customers want to know how you can help solve their problems. Selling is about focusing on their needs, after all.
But you do not have to come off as a squeaky clean company with a pristine track record and zero faults.
In fact, having some faults makes you human, just like your customers.
What you should do:
You do not need to air your dirty laundry out, so to speak; you simply need to appeal to your customers by being honest.
If your company is not on the same level as your competitors, but you make up the difference with lower costs and better customer service, let your customers know.
For example, Sprint has a powerful campaign right now that features this effective psychological tactic:
They admit in their advertisements that their network reliability is not quite up to par with its competitors, but proudly state that Sprint has made improvements to be within 1% of its competitor’s reliability.
Additionally, they point out a strength of theirs that the other companies cannot say for themselves: that Sprint is saving customers over 50% when compared to other wireless network companies.
In essence, they are providing a huge benefit, but they are also being honest with their customers by highlighting a small weakness when compared to their competitors.
With Coca-Cola, there is Pepsi. With McDonalds, there is Burger King. With Apple, there is Microsoft. You get the picture.
Every good story has a protagonist and an antagonist.
And when it comes to sales, you want your sales team to be the heroes of the story.
Why is that?
Because psychologically speaking, people tend to root for the good guys.
What you should do:
You should not have to go out and pick a fight with your competitors in order to create a nemesis.
You can simply exaggerate one that truly exists—in a way.
For instance, if you work for a company that sells food products, you could tout that your food is “made only for people who enjoy the finer things in life.”
By doing so, a “nemesis” has been created that consists of other food product companies; your product is designed for a “superior” customer base—one that enjoys “the finer things in life.”
Your customers now have a choice. Do they enjoy the finer things too? Or are they part of the “out” crowd now?
Hint: It is probably not the latter.
Yes, labeling people can be tricky.
But, from a psychological standpoint, humans cannot resist labeling people and things.
By giving something a label or name, we are able to imbue something or someone with emotional significance.
And as mentioned above, emotions tend to dictate our actions (like our spending habits).
In one study, a group of people were brought in to discuss their voting behavior.
For the study, half of the group was labeled as “politically active.”
During the following election, there was a 15% higher turnout amongst the people in the group that was labeled “politically active.”
Though this study is certainly not definitive, it does showcase the power of giving your customers a label they can take action with.
What you should do:
When your sales team is talking to a customer, make sure they are pointing out the difference between a standard consumer and a “superior” customer.
If you have different products with different levels of features and price points, make sure that one or a few are designed for “Professionals” or “Industry Leaders.”
You should not be dishonest here, but you should promote the fact that a customer with those titles (or is aspiring to reach them) should be purchasing your products to help them achieve their goals.
You have probably seen those commercials where they show photos and videos of helpless animals with sad music playing in the background.
Then, at the end of the commercial, they ask viewers to send in a donation to help support and save the animals.
The reason those commercials are so effective is not only because of their ability to tug on your heartstrings—it is also because it is a cause that many people can share and support.
Why is this important?
Because customers are people, first and foremost. And since people are driven by emotions, when they are approached with a cause they believe in, they are compelled to take action.
The ability to champion a cause that your customers can help you with is a great psychological method for improving your sales process.
In fact, over 64% of customers say they have a strong connection to a brand because they share values with the company.
What you should do:
No, you do not have to bring in the sad puppies and start creating a new company video.
You can do something as simple as tying a product to a cause you believe in.
For example, shoe company TOMS started a one-for-one program that supports a generous cause.
Here is how it works: For every pair of TOMS shoes a customer purchases, one pair of shoes is donated to a child in need around the world. Simple.
But you do not need to go one-for-one with selling your products if it does not fit your business model.
By promoting a cause that relates to your company or something that your company truly believes in, you can give your customers some insight into how great your company truly is.
When you build that connection with your customers, you can also promote brand loyalty, which goes a long way if you are looking to improve sales.
Psychology is not an instant-fix solution, but it can definitely give you some insight into how your customers feel about your company as well as your products or services.
However, as you implement these psychology-backed sales techniques, it is important to avoid using them in a deceptive way.
These are tools you can use to connect with your customers on a more intimate level.
When you employ them, you develop a level of trust that can be leveraged into real sales that come from a genuine connection.
And that genuine connection will keep your customers coming back for more every time.
Christopher Croner, Ph.D.
Dr. Christopher Croner received his BA in Psychology from DePaul University, and his Masters…
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