In order to grow your agency’s revenue, you must follow a very simple formula: get your customers to say “yes”. But which sales tactics work and make them say “yes” when you’re pitching them? More than 65 years of heavy research has been done to try to answer this question.
Common sense would tell us that we take in all of the relevant information, weigh it, and make rational decisions based on it. Unfortunately, common sense is wrong in this case. We all use shortcuts to make decisions quickly, and often that relevant information is disregarded. The key to successful selling is knowing what these shortcuts are and how we can use them to our advantage when pitching others.
The use of the term “pitching others” can be offputting to some, so it’s important here to differentiate between manipulation and influence. Manipulation is influencing someone, but with only your own goals in mind rather than their best interest, and it’s often done through bullying, disruption, or deception.
Influencing, on the other hand, is educating someone to come to an agreement on a mutually beneficial goal. Although there’s a fine line here, the line does exist. It usually comes down to your actual belief in what you’re selling and your own moral code.
Shortcut sales tactics to getting a solid “yes”
There are actually at least 25 different “shortcuts” that we humans use to make snap decisions. Sometimes we use these because we’re simply busy, other times because we don’t really want to hear what a salesperson has to say (for whatever reason). Either way, we usually use them subconsciously. That means that someone who is aware of these subconscious triggers (sales tactics) may be able to mold their pitch to use them to their benefit.
The psychology of selling in practice
Enjoy the short video below or read on to discover the five most used sales tactics and how you employ them to grow your business. If you wish, you can download the presentation slides on Slideshare.
Human nature is to reciprocate positive actions. If someone does you a favor, you’re likely to return the favor, and this works in sales as well. Two key things to remember here are:
- that you have to give first, and
- that what you give them or do for them isn’t expected.
The study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology proves that this works. Waiters who left a mint with the check at a restaurant increased their tips by 3%. With two mints the tip increased by 14%. And when one mint was left and then they returned with another mint (there were still two mints, but the presentation changed), the tip amount increased by 23%!
People listen to people they like, and they buy from people they trust – not necessarily because of what they’re selling. Building rapport is crucial to getting people to like you first so that they’ll listen to you when making a decision.
“Mirroring” is a great sales tactic that helps break the ice and puts people at ease with you. In person this works by following physical cues – crossing your legs if their legs are crossed, for instance. If you’re working over the phone, matching the pace of their speech and the tone of their voice works the same way. Talking about shared interests or hobbies is also a form of mirroring.
The simplest and most natural way to do this is through natural conversation, but if time is more of a factor or you just want to have a subject in your back pocket that you can pull out to help, you could look up their interests ahead of time through social media. Just don’t pretend to have an interest in something you know nothing about – it’ll be obvious.
If you’re working through email or text there isn’t much you can do to mirror them in these ways, but there are still some things you can do. I tend to mirror their greeting or signature, for instance. So if they begin with “Hi John”, I reply with “Hi Jack”, even if I normally type “Hey Jack” or simply “Jack,”. If they end with “Best” or “Thanks”, I do the same, regardless of how I would normally end an email.
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Credibility makes sales. If you’re viewed as an authority on the subject you’re speaking about or educating someone on, they are much more likely to pay attention. And as we’ve already seen, getting someone to listen is the key to making a sale. This also comes down to presentation and preparation. Even if you’re the foremost expert in your field, not being able to convey your thoughts coherently or answer questions in a way they’ll understand can make you seem like you know less than you do.
The old “ABC” sales expression (Always Be Closing) doesn’t necessarily imply a hard-nosed sales approach every time. Different businesses require different approaches, and in a consultative business such as a digital agency, the soft approach is usually much more effective. Consistency here is getting a series of “yes” commitments throughout your conversation. The more often you can elicit a “yes” response, the more likely your next “yes” will be and the more likely that the final sales pitch will ultimately result in a “yes” as well. Make sure that you think about how you’re phrasing your questions in order to get each small “yes” leading to the big “yes”.
Why is gold one of the most valuable things on Earth? Because there is a limited supply of it and we can’t make more of it. People have a natural tendency to want more of whatever there is less of. This is the basic principle behind the modern phenomenon of FoMO, or Fear of missing out. If people think that they may not be able to get something in the future, they’ll be much more likely to buy it today. The key to this sales tactic is to focus on what is unique about what you’re offering (that they can’t get elsewhere) and what they have to lose if they don’t buy.