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Sales Psychology: Getting Into the Buyer’s Mind To Make the Purchase

Sales psychology is far more than understanding your target audience. It’s a more profound method of learning the psyche of your target so that you know how to capture their attention effectively.

From a consumer’s perspective, you’d be surprised at the sheer number of companies that use in-depth psychological tactics to make their products and services appear more appealing. From causing a sense of urgency to using specific colors for promotions, there are tons of unique methods used to entice the purchasing powers of customers.

Today, we’ll explore sales psychology, its basic principles, and how you can use it to your advantage when bringing your products or services to market.

What is sales psychology?

People like to think of humans as logical beings. However, when buying a product or service, purchasing decisions often have plenty to do with emotions.

This is important for a sales team to recognize, as using emotions gives you a surefire way to make an impression on your target audience. The emotions that affect whether we feel like we need or want to buy something are also referred to as sales psychology.

In layperson’s terms, it’s the process of understanding your audience by looking into their psyche and understanding how to effectively sell your products to them.

As a sales or marketing professional, you’ll use sales psychology to make products appear more attractive to your target audience. 

This is different than taking a cost-oriented approach to sales. Instead of making a product seem appealing because of price, you focus on how your products align with the values and needs of your customers.

Pros of implementing sales psychologyCons
Sales psychology can be used to increase sales.

Assists customers with purchasing the right products.

Guarantees marketing reaches the right audience.

Helps to build stronger relationships with customers.
Might not be applicable to all shoppers.

Requires learning in-depth topics.

Sales psychology may have to be adapted based on the target audience.

What are the principles of sales psychology?

When looking into a new sales strategy, you’ll likely come across Dr. Robert Cialdini’s work through his best-selling book, “Influence”. He highlights six principles that work together to influence the psyche of consumers when they enter a sales setting.

Reciprocity

The reciprocity principle focuses primarily on your emotional need to give something back after receiving something.

For example, if an associate goes out of their way to help you, you may feel obliged to give them something in return. 

With this in mind, think of product samples, which could be seen as “gifts” and encourage customers to purchase in return.

Commitment and consistency

When a consumer makes a decision, their behavior reinforces the said decision to justify it.

It’s an effective principle because commitment is often established from consistency, such as a customer consistently using your product and making repeat purchases.

Social proof

When consumers are unsure about a brand or product, they often wait for others to offer their opinion to sway their own.

Humans have a social desire to like the same things as their peers, which is why 75% of customers are more likely to buy something based on personal recommendations.

Liking

59% of American consumers suggest celebrity endorsements affect their purchases, which is where liking comes into play with purchasing psychology. With this theory in mind, it’s easy to see why more brands rely on celebrity endorsements than ever before.

Consumers are far more likely to purchase a brand endorsed by someone they like, even if they don’t know them personally.

Authority

One of the top ways to manage your sales is to make sure you’re selling with the help of an experienced professional or someone with authority.

A great example is toothpaste ads, where brands suggest dental professionals and dentistry boards approve their formula. If you have someone who’s a specialist in your niche, their help could be invaluable to making more sales.

Scarcity

Have you ever been enticed to purchase a product because you believe its inventory is running out? If so, you’ve experienced scarcity as a tactic used in the sales process.

Also known as FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out), scarcity can be used to encourage shoppers to buy a product because it’s available for a limited time or limited amounts can be purchased.

When you take a step back and look at these principles of sales psychology, it’s easy to see how everyday brands often use these tactics. From limited-time offers to limited runs of specific clothing designs, retailers use scarcity as a major tactic.

Even when it comes to authority and liking, more brands rely on influencer marketing to encourage shoppers to buy products because they like a specific individual.

8 psychological triggers: how to make an impact to close the sale

With a clear understanding of the six principles of sales psychology, let’s dive into how you can apply them to your marketing or sales methods to increase your bottom line.

Using these tips, you’ll not only become more effective sales professionals. You can also transform the experiences your customers get from shopping at your store.

1. Make a connection

Humans desire to make connections with one another. The more positive of a relationship you have with someone, the more positive emotions you’ll feel.

Think of the last time you had a positive experience with a sales associate that left you feeling joyful and ready to shop. Imagine if you could make all of your customers feel that way, encouraging good sales day in and out.

A great idea to have happy customers is to build a relationship with them out of trust. You’ll want to recommend the best products they need, make them feel comfortable, and gently encourage them to open up to making a purchase.

2. Use peers as an example

As we mentioned, the human brain is more likely to purchase if friends and family have purchased the product in the past. 

81% of U.S. consumers suggested their friends’ social media posts influenced their consumer behaviors. So, monitoring social media behavior can impact if you want to find the right products to target the right audience at the right time.

One of the most powerful tactics you can use to influence your customers’ buying decisions is to use the power of their peers. One of the best ways to do this is to consider the benefits of reviews and testimonials.

A study by Big Commerce found that 92% of consumers went through online reviews before making a purchase. When you can prove that your target audiences’ peers are buying and loving your products or services, it will undoubtedly help to improve your sales.

This has been a popular psychology factor in sales for years, dating back to the old saying, “Keeping up with the Joneses.” We feel a significant pull towards products that others have, especially if they’re direct peers.

3. Show you’re an expert

Prospective customers are more likely to purchase a product if you have expert experience. That is why many brands focus on developing their identity and picking a niche they’re passionate about, as it helps to build authority, one of the most powerful motivators for shoppers.

Take skincare brands as an example. Would you be more likely to buy products from an unheard-of brand owned by an unheard-of corporation? Or would you rather buy skincare from a brand owned by renowned dermatologists with years of experience in their field?

Common skincare certificates

Even with products that don’t have as much impact, the golden rule of purchasing is that customers don’t like taking risks. 

4. Offer fewer choices

When consumers have too many options, it can work against them rather than for them. Also known as “analysis paralysis.

 It’s always best to have a good assortment of items for customers to consider rather than an onslaught of choices. For example, imagine a restaurant with a ten-page menu displaying hundreds of entrees. Choosing the right meal to satiate your hunger would be seemingly impossible.

On the other hand, a restaurant with a mere 10 to 15 food options would be easier to consider and look more premium.

As a sales professional, you can avoid analysis paralysis by understanding what your consumers are looking for. Once you know their desires, you can lean into your expert experience to help guide them toward the right product.

5. Offer products first

A common psychological principle explored in Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy and other sales psychology texts is the principle of reciprocity.

As we discussed earlier, when you offer customers something, they feel as if they have a responsibility or obligation to give something in return. This positive interaction is a fantastic influencer many brands use to entice customers to make a purchase and see it as an exchange.

A great example is to imagine walking past a tea shop in the mall that’s offering free samples. The sales associate will give you a taster, explaining the flavors they have available.

Since they took the time to explain their products and give you a free sample, you could be more likely to go in and make a purchase for a full beverage.

Businesses love using this strategy in human psychology because it has a high return on investment. They’ll be offering small samples that will make people buy more than they’ve given away.

6. Harness the power of FOMO

By making consumers feel like they’re missing out on something great, you’re encouraging more people to make purchases quickly.

Take Black Friday or Boxing Day as examples, two annual events that encourage shoppers to buy tons of products because they’re marked down for a limited time. 

The idea of object scarcity is something that not only encourages more sales but more immediate sales as well. When shoppers are faced with discounts, they won’t sit and deliberate on their purchase; they’ll be more likely to buy it right away.

7. Mystery can be powerful

One common mistake that sales professionals could make is making a purchase too easy for customers. Depending on the business, mystery can help pique the interest of your consumers.

In many cases, it can also help customers avoid the advertised prices of expensive products.

By using allure and mystery, you’ll be able to create a blanket of illusion and enigma around a product. This in itself is sure to get even the most analytical buyer to want to see what your product has to offer.

A great example is to think of a business with a product that has a free trial for customers to explore, such as software.

Instead of outlining all of the features and benefits of the software, which could be time-consuming and boring, why not let the customers find out for themselves? Offer a free trial instead of a thorough explanation of what the product offers.

You can then help them work through the software, but they get the experience first-hand, letting the product sell itself.

8. Establish strong commitments

A theory explored by Dr. Cialdini is that humans tend to stick to a specific decision once it’s made, whether it’s intelligent or not. Every brand dreams of this level of commitment, as it’s the best way to bring in a loyal customer who will make repeat purchases.

If you can use this psychology in sales, you’ll build stronger commitments with your audience, which will turn into more sales.

It’s best to refine your sales pitch to include consistency, such as repeating the benefits of a product. You’ll also want to add in small commitments that customers can agree to, such as trying out the plushness of a mattress before making a purchase.

The deeper you pull a customer in by having them make small commitments, the easier it will be for them to make a decision.

From there, you’ll find your consumers are likely to establish brand loyalty and trust. Over time, this will surely turn into more sales and even recommendations to family and friends.

Other tricks to understand your customer’s psyche

Now that you have a list of some top ways to bring in potential customers, let’s explore a few other unique methods sales professionals often use in marketing. Some of these are sure to surprise you!

Psychology of numbers in sales

The psychology of numbers in sales is a fascinating psychological phenomenon to consider when deciding on pricing strategies for your business.

Also known as odd-even pricing, this strategy takes advantage of how customers perceive specific pricing strategies. There are two main components:

  • Even pricing strategy: An even pricing strategy suggests a product may have a more elevated or luxurious appeal. It also offers a sense of completeness, which is why service providers like tutors or lawyers often use it.
  • Odd pricing strategy: With an odd pricing strategy, customers tend to see prices as a cost-saving. That is why most sale prices aren’t even numbered; they’ll likely end at 0.95 or 0.99.

An easy way to understand odd-even pricing is to think of a dollar menu at your favorite fast-food restaurant. Even though there’s an insignificant monetary difference between $0.99 and $1.00, $0.99 still makes the food look like it’s offered at a steep discount.

Benefit from loss aversion

We all know how businesses use FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to entice customers to buy the same products their friends and family have. But have you considered the benefits of leveraging loss aversion?

All types of buyers want to ensure they’re not letting go of a product that could be helpful only for it to disappear and not be available again.

Using loss aversion is a great way to sway human behavior to be more likely to make a purchase. This is because customers would rather spend the money now than not be able to experience the product or service in the future.

A fantastic example of this is to think of retailers like Home Goods or Homesense. The products they carry in their stores are available for a limited time and in limited quantities.

Often, if you leave a product behind, you aren’t likely to find it again on your second visit. This encourages shoppers to immediately pick up everything they like rather than putting it down and thinking about their purchase.

Use storytelling

With storytelling, you’re not only forming a deeper relationship with consumers. You’re also making a powerful impact on their purchasing decisions.

Storytelling can be used in many different ways. One of the top recommendations is to use a story to explain how a specific product or service has helped you in the past.

You can then use your experience to lead into how the product or service will assist the customer with a specific problem they could be having. If you can provide a believable success story to customers, you can greatly influence their purchase.

In many instances, you might find that it distracts them from the actual price of the product.

These sales techniques are often used in home improvement stores, as associates can recommend specific products they’ve used that helped get them out of a bind.

Keep boosting your relevance

One of the worst things that could happen to any brand is becoming irrelevant. That said, maintaining relevance is key to meeting your annual sales goals while ensuring the success of your business over the years.

Fortunately, there are several ways you can keep your brand relevant, especially when it comes to marketing to your consumers.

First, consider materials such as email campaigns, SMS marketing, newsletters, and other forms of communication. Loyalty programs and subscription services are key to keeping your brand relevant while ensuring brand loyalty and trust.

Even hosting regular promotions for customers to save on initial prices can be a great way to keep people talking about what you have to offer.

Sale psychology is as important as everyone thinks

The importance of sales psychology shouldn’t be understated, whether you own a brand with years of experience or a new company. By understanding the needs and desires of your target audience, you can ensure your products, services, and prices encourage purchases. You can also use this information to refine your sales tactics, offering a more fulfilling and rewarding shopping experience for all potential and recurring customers.

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