Humans seek pleasure and avoid pain. Our brains are hard-wired with this basic autopilot function, but we aren’t so simple as the self-important copywriters and gurus would have us believe. That’s why we, as marketers, should use psychology of selling principles to appeal more to our target audience.
While there is some truth to the concepts people like Kevin Hogan and John C. Maxwell mention, the idea of human beings as simple autonomous beings is not only naive but also detrimental to understanding consumers and communicating with them effectively.
This one seems obvious, but psychology is a complicated topic. So here goes: the vast majority of the time, prospects don’t really know what they need, nor do they know what they want. This is especially true when it comes to B2B.
What is psychological selling?
The idea of selling is much more than just giving your prospects what they need or want to buy. Sales are psychological, and the best salespeople understand that fact.
The best salespeople aren’t just trying to provide what you need or offer you something you want; they’re also trying to rid you of what you don’t want so that you can achieve your goals.
You should always focus on how the mind works and how that affects what we do. Have a look at microeconomics and what people do, why they do it, and how to use this information to persuade them to buy from you.
Of course, the best way to understand an individual is to look at how they have been trained, treated, or persuaded in the past. The better we understand how someone ticks, the more effective we will be as persuaders.
The psychology of selling looks at the motivations behind a purchase.
Many buyers seek what I call “valuable experiences” when making a purchase.
For example, people pay premium prices for a pair of boutique shoes because they expect the shoes to be a wonderful experience they’ll love. Or they may shell out more for a massage so they can get away from it all and relax.
Buyers also go for a higher price point for goods that offer significant savings in terms of time or effort. In these cases, potential customers will weigh the value of the experience against the increased price.
How to use emotions to sell
The foundation of leading-edge marketing is understanding the nature of what motivates people to buy.
I know it’s not a sexy topic for many, but understanding the nature of human buying behavior and how to leverage emotions will give you a massive edge in any kind of marketing.
Here are 7 facts from the psychology of selling that will help you plan marketing strategies more effectively.
1. People are emotional
When you’re writing copy, you don’t want to make everything about your product or service.
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. That’s why writing persuasive sales letters is all about intangible benefits vs. product features and value propositions.
The latter focuses on what you offer and the former only speaks to the why.
Sometimes, the most powerful content isn’t information-based. It’s not filled with useful tips or helpful suggestions; it’s merely emotional. The copy is less about describing the product and more about appealing to the reader’s feelings.
2. People have big egos
The question “What’s in it for me?” is one of the most critical questions on any piece of saleable copy. It’s the key to head-turning, sale-closing power. Copy can’t be effective if you fail to answer this question for the reader.
If you’re struggling with the question of what is in it for your customers, here is a trick that has helped me in the past.
Find out what objections your prospects might have, then create copy that addresses them—often by making it appear that you care (bonus points if you actually care!).
3. People seek value
If you’ve ever tried to buy or sell anything, you know that the value you put on the item is not always the value the other person puts on it.
It’s sometimes difficult to get fair market value when buying what must be an apparently “worthless” used car, for example.
On the Internet, which is where much of your business life will be spent, you must understand that value is not a fixed number. Value is relative to what you’re selling, what others charge, what the prospect is used to paying, how badly the prospect wants it, and how the prospect perceives the difference between your offer and others.
There are three ways to increase your perceived value:
- lower the price people have come to expect;
- raise the perceived value of something that seems to be equal to or less than the asking price;
- be perceived as unique, scarce, or have social proof.
4. People love eachother
When two people meet, the human mind goes through a series of subtraction auto-pilot processes to determine if one of the people is perceived to be higher in status than the other, and what they can do to increase their level of actual or perceived value to that person.
If you want people to feel valued by your copy, speak to them on this level.
People are drawn to other people. It’s easier for us to empathize with named individuals than faceless statistics.
When you tell your prospects that thousands of internet nerds have chosen this product without showing them their photos, you make it more difficult for them to identify with your story.
Design your copy to pull your prospects into the same room as you and constantly remind them they are interacting personally with you.
5. People are suspicious
While trust is one of the most important factors in securing longer-term customers, it doesn’t make sense to frustrate new visitors on your landing page. For that reason, you must consider how to build trust without scaring away potential customers.
The point is: If there’s a chance that your offer or website will be perceived as a scam — which is almost inevitable — provide proof that it isn’t. If you can prove that you’re legitimate and knowledgeable, readers will be far more likely to take action.
The more believable the claims, the fewer precautions your prospect will need to take. The credibility of the testimonial, survey results, endorsement, or scientific study plays a key role in how your prospect evaluates your message.
6. People follow the crowd
People are not always convinced by the written word. They need to hear what others think about the product or service firsthand. A well-crafted testimonial proves that others can’t live without your product or service, either.
For example, many influencers will provide a brief testimonial sharing why they use a product or service. This is because human beings tend to rely heavily on social proof when making decisions.
In fact, neuroscience reveals that we have a primitive part of our brain, called the amygdala, which acts as a second set of eyes and ears. The amygdala is there to detect threats—but it will respond to non-threats with equal vigor. This explains why so many products are successful through word-of-mouth marketing.
7. People like to “feel” a product before buying
Ever wondered how you can use the psychology of sense to improve your online store and attract more customers? There is a lot of science and psychology behind the senses and they play a crucial role in the purchase decision-making process.
The issue with selling products online is that you can’t inspect the said product.
If a customer plans to buy a cake online, they want to know it looks and tastes as good as a bakery-made cake.
But even if the website has professional-quality photographs of the cake, a picture isn’t enough. It needs to convey the texture and flavor of the cake via its visual appeal, taste, and smell.
Make sure that your sales message and copy fill this gap.