The term “sales and marketing psychology” may sound very technical and quite intimidating but is actually easy to understand once you get the hang of it. After all, sales and marketing psychology ultimately boils down to human nature. The trick, thus, is to use your knowledge and understanding of how people think, feel, and make decisions in pitching sales to your target buyers.
Having said that, we will be talking about how you could get inside the heard of your target buyer so as to convince them to buy whatever product or service you are offering. To do this successfully – and effortlessly, to boot – it is important for you to master the foundations of sales and marketing psychology.
Here, we will talk about the eleven psychological sales triggers, the very foundation of sales and marketing psychology, so as to enable you to convince practically anyone to buy whatever you are selling.
If you are ready, let us go ahead and discuss these 11 psychological sales triggers.
Table of Contents
Fear is one of the most basic and most innate emotions – and this holds true not only for humans but for all members of the animal kingdom. Since human beings are sentient, we feel this emotion particularly strongly. The universality, as well as the instinctive nature of fear, makes it a very powerful motivator. We see the power of fear almost every day, from electoral campaigns to health advisories.
One common example of how fear is often used as a motivating factor is in the case of anti-smoking ad campaigns. In certain places, cigarette manufacturers are mandated to include a graphic warning as to the negative health effects of cigarette smoking. Anti-smoking advocates also employ a similar strategy, with anti-smoking ads showing graphic images of how long-term cigarette smoking can affect the human body. By capitalizing on fear, one can move the target audience into action.
That said, you must be careful when using fear and must only use it in the right way. One way of using fear when marketing a product or service is by amplifying a negative effect. For example, soap commercials would often place emphasis on bacteria, virus, and disease transmission. In the same vein, those selling locks would often talk about criminality and the possibility of burglary. By playing up on your target buyers’ fear, you can sell your product or service in a way that would make it seem like the only viable solution.
This concept might sound new to you, but chances are you are quite familiar with this already. This concept is not used that often in TV commercials, but it is a fairly common strategy in print ads and promotional pages of websites.
In a nutshell, the concept of transfer is hinged on social proof or transitive trust, which really is just fancy and technical speak for brand connection. To illustrate this concept better, let us say that Brand Y is a new and unheard-of product.
Since it is new, people will be hesitant to try it, especially since there is no guarantee as to its quality. To overcome this hurdle, the marketers of Brand Y can namedrop familiar brands which it has collaborated with, in this case, let us say Company A and Company B. Since people know Company A and Company B, and they know that these are reputable companies, they will also associate such good reputation with Brand Y.
That said, this strategy is most fitting for newer brands which can best be marketed through familiarity with other brands, seeing as consumers are more likely to patronize a product or service which is connected to something they already know or trust.
3. Bandwagon effect
This is among the most popular and most understood psychological sales triggers. The bandwagon effect is a phenomenon wherein people do things (or in the case of sales and marketing psychology, make purchases) because other people are doing the same. This behavior is rooted in people’s psychological need to belong. Essentially, all human beings, in one way or another, desire to be a part of something regardless of whether they might realize it or not.
I am sure that you have seen how this phenomenon plays out among entrepreneurs. Whenever something becomes popular – be it a movie, a product, or even a person – you will notice a meteoric rise in related merchandise and people who sell such merchandise.
Since people generally want to belong, they tend to be willing to spend on products or services which are popular among their peers. The great thing about this strategy is that it requires minimal effort on the part of the seller or marketer. Basically, people will naturally gravitate towards products or services which they view as “in” or “trendy”.
Related to the past concept is comparison. Human beings have an innate fear of standing out or missing out. Basically, we inevitably compare ourselves to our peers whether or not we may notice that we are making such a comparison. This operates in two ways: first, we do not want to be the only one doing something in a particular way and second, we do not want to be the only one not doing something in a particular way. Hence, we are more likely to try something new if we see that everybody else is doing it already.
In terms of purchasing behavior, this means that consumers are more likely to try new products and services when they notice that their peers are already using these new products and services. Unlike the bandwagon effect however, which requires that the consumers themselves observe the existence of the trend in question, comparison is something that can be completely manufactured to suit the purposes of the seller or marketer.
That being said, you can appeal to your target buyers by mentioning that everyone else is buying or using whatever products or services you are selling. Essentially, you want your target buyers to feel that they are missing out on a lot if they do not make a purchase.
This is another psychological sales trigger that I am sure you are well aware of. The concept behind liking is quite basic, really: if you like someone, you are more likely to do what they say. This is where the power of celebrities come in. Brands pay good money for celebrity endorsements for one simple reason: well-liked celebrities who have a large and loyal fanbase can easily drive up sales.
After all, people are more likely to heed the advice of their favorite celebrities. This means that not only are fans more likely to make the same purchases as their celebrities, their means permitting, but they are also more likely to purchase products which their favorite celebrities endorse.
Hence, another infallible sales tactic is enlisting the services of a prominent individual to endorse a particular product or service. Of course, not all companies can afford to do this, in which case sponsoring a celebrity (letting a celebrity try out a new product or service for free in exchange for social media exposure) is a viable alternative. The mere association can do wonders for the product or service in question.
This concept is somewhat similar to the preceding one, liking. Whereas liking works because individuals are more likely to do what someone they like says or does, authority works because people are more likely to heed the advice of someone they respect.
In a sense, authority functions as social proof, an attestation as to the credibility or effectivity of a particular product or service. That said, when a person of authority says or prescribes something, people are more likely to take an interest and to take action.
How the concept of authority plays out in sales and marketing psychology is interesting. After all, actual authority is not always necessary as the mere semblance of it typically works already. A case in point would be commercials on antibacterial soap, toothpaste, or even shampoo which features actors wearing lab gowns talking about the merits of the products being endorsed.
These individuals are not really doctoring or scientists, but because they are being presented in a way that is akin to authority, the target buyers become keener to listen to them and, hence, more likely to buy whatever product they are advertising.
Another powerful concept which sellers and marketers can make use of in improving their sales is reciprocity. The concept of reciprocity is quite simple. It sends to the potential buyers this particular message: if I gave you something for free, then now it is your turn to buy something.
This is why whenever new food products or items are being introduced, the sellers would typically provide free samples. This is not only to convince their target buyers that their product is of high standards, but also to get them to feel compelled to make a purchase.
The concept of reciprocity is no longer only applicable to in-person sales. Quite the contrary, it works just as well for online websites, particularly those offering particular services.
For example, fitness websites that earn money by selling and making workout and meal plans often provide subscribers with a free program sample. Websites which provides online seminars, meanwhile, would often give out materials absolutely for free.
Even creative websites which offer a host of products such as desktop or mobile phone wallpapers will often provide some of their products to the general public for free. Giving out such samples certainly help target consumers to get an inkling as to whether or not they will actually enjoy the product or service in question.
But even more importantly, by providing samples absolutely for free, no strings attached, sellers or marketers are able to create a connection between the product or service they are providing, and their target consumers. In a sense, target consumers feel somehow obligated to make a purchase, especially if they enjoyed the sample to begin with. Think about it: this strategy works perfectly fine with app and streaming services free trial, right?
8. Commitment and Consistency
This concept can best be summarized as conditioning people to say yes but using it effectively can be a little trickier than the other concepts. Basically, your goal as a seller or marketer is to try to get people to say yes – and say yes consistently.
To do this, you must remain not only committed, but also consistent. Hence, if you take a stand on an issue, then you must stick with that stand all throughout your marketing spiel. Doing so will not only lend credence to whatever product or service you are pitching but will also help your target buyers to formulate their own expectations and act in accordance to such expectations.
This brings us to the crucial question: how do you condition people to say yes? The answer is actually a lot easier than you might think. The technique is to ask seemingly innocent questions which you know your audience will always say yes to.
Thus, the trick is to not ask individual-specific questions, the answer to which will vary depending on the personal tastes and circumstances of the individual. Instead, ask questions which appeal to the human experience in general.
By asking questions which your target buyers can easily say yes to in the beginning, you are putting them in a mood in a position where they are more likely to agree. This increases the likelihood of them saying yes when you ask the crucial questions with regard to availing of the product or service which you are pitching.
Scarcity is a concept which I am sure you are quite familiar with, seeing as it is used practically universally not only in actual markets but also in online channels. The concept of scarcity operates on the basis of two things: first, limited time and second, limited supply.
Limited supply is more straightforward and more in keeping of how we understand scarcity. The lower the supply, the higher the price. And in the case of certain products or services, this low supply- high price combination further drives up the demand by virtue of exclusivity. This is especially relevant in present times when social media is everywhere, and products are more easily accessible. A lot of individuals struggle to be unique, to find products or services which could set them apart from the group.
By availing of a scarce resource, individuals appear to get an edge over their peers. Time and time again, we see businessmen make use of the concept of limited supply to drive up the price of products, particularly of necessities.
After all, when the demand is inelastic, consumers are willing to pay for goods or services regardless of the price thereof. At present, however, limited supply is used to sell not only necessities, but also luxury goods and other trendy, exclusive pieces. The case of Supreme, a well-known high-end street fashion brand is a great example.
Another way to use scarcity is to play up the concept of limited time. This is a typical scene in limited time offers of products and services, often at large discounts. By providing a timeline by which target consumers may avail of the product of service in question, the seller or marketer is able to convince the target consumers to buy immediately, at the risk of losing such a great deal.
10. Dual-role persuasion
Just because human beings are in fact emotional decision-makers does not mean that logic does not form a big part of the advertising process. After all, individuals still prefer to make emotional decisions which they can later rationalize or justify to themselves – and the same is true when it comes to purchasing behavior. That said, consumers are more amenable to spending extra if they feel that such extra spending is justifiable in light of the present circumstances.
This is where dual-role persuasion comes in. Essentially, this concept merely entails presenting both sides of the argument (albeit it must be done in such a way that you are still able to sell your side of the argument but without your biases being too obvious). By presenting both sides of the argument, you will get the appearance of being more trustworthy.
After all, individuals do not like to be manipulated, so they lean away from a one-sided sales pitch and towards those that gives off some semblance of fairness. In addition, by employing the double-role persuasion, you will make your target buyers feel as though they have already done their research.
This works in your favor because (1) if they do not do research at all, then it means that your version of the sales pitch will be your target buyers’ sole source of information with regard to the product and (2) if they do not feel manipulated into making a purchase, then they are, in fact, more likely to make such purchase.
11. Length implies strength
Finally, we are onto our last psychological sales trigger – length implies strength. Now, this last concept finds application in various forms of advertisements, from TV commercials to print ads, but it proves most effective when it comes to printed materials.
Basically, length implies strength simply means that the sheer length, amount, or volume of proof that you have as to the effectivity of your product or service will be viewed as indicative of the strength of the said product or service.
Now, we say that this is more effective for print ads than it is for other media because print is harder to consume and digest. While people might still watch or listen to commercials, and afford to be discerning, most people do not have the time to take a moment and digest long-form sales pages or read through testimonials.
That being said, including a lot of testimonials or other scientific backing to the claims of your products or services will allow your products or services to be viewed in a positive light.
In a world where individuals rarely take the time to read very long text posts, the sheer length and amount of information can easily be taken as a good sign. Of course, it is better to make the content as engaging and possible and to ensure that the claims are true, but it is worth knowing that length alone can do wonders for your sales or marketing pitch.