Using The Psychology of Persuasion to Increase Sales


Increasing sales is something all businesses want to do. We do everything from developing sales teams to launching sales initiatives to running advertising and marketing campaigns. The psychology of sales can help with almost every aspect of this.

Of course it is impossible to go into a topic like this in detail in a short blog post. Even here it is possible to get the basics though, with real and actionable tips and suggestions.

There are six psychological triggers we are going to outline. They were introduced to the world back in 1984 by a well-known US psychologist and university professor, Robert Cialdini. In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion he describes these six triggers as principles of influence.

Businesses all over the world use them every day, and you can too.

The Six Principles of Influence

  • Reciprocity – the easiest example of this is the free sample, a sales and marketing tactic that is extensively used in most industries. When a person receives a freebie like this they are more inclined to make a purchase. You will see this in action when you watch any shopping channel or infomercial on television selling a fitness DVD – look at all the extras and bonuses that are given for “free”.
  • Commitment and consistency – the idea behind this principle is to get people to say yes as often as you can. When they say yes they are making a commitment, and people don’t like going back on commitments, even when it is not yet a commitment to buy. Take a car dealership as an example. A person visits the dealership’s website and says yes to the offer of a brochure. The dealership then sends them an email inviting them to an event which they say yes to again. The sales person then asks them do they want a test drive – another yes. You see the pattern.
  • Liking – almost every sales person in Ireland will tell you people buy from people. That is true and it was proven by Cialdini – he said people have to like the person they are buying from. It therefore makes sense to match sales people with clients to get a good fit.
  • Authority – this is another one you see every day in newspapers, on television and on the radio. The easy example is the celebrity endorsement of a product, or the doctor or dentist endorsing a health related product. People respond positively to individuals they believe are an authority on the topic in question. This is not really about getting a celebrity for name-recognition, though. That is something different. In other words, it is more about getting a leading rugby player to help you sell rugby balls than it is to get the rugby player to help you sell butter. The rugby player might eat butter, but he is unlikely to be an authority on it.
  • Social proof – people have more confidence in a product when they see it is already used and approved by people like them. So, if you are selling a product to business owners for example, you should get testimonials and letters of recommendation from other business owners.
  • Scarcity – this covers all those “limited time offer” and “limited stock” sales messages that you see. When an item is scarce, people want it more.

You probably already use several of these principles in your sales and marketing already, but you might benefit from introducing more.

For more business advice and tips please contact a member of the Gilroy Gannon team today.

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