I’m amused by the articles I see written by non-salespeople warning about the secrets and “tricks” that are used to supposedly manipulate people into forking over their money.
It’s as if we belong to this underground society and have powers that hypnotize helpless customers. If it were that easy a lot more people would be hitting quota, right?
Actually though, most of these articles do have merit. They point out the proven influence and persuasion principles that great salespeople, marketers, negotiators, teachers, parents, or anyone in a position of influence uses (or should use).
What the writers normally don’t get is that real sales pros aim to help people by using these techniques, not to deceive them.
Someone sent me the link to one of these articles the other day. Let’s look at eight of the “tricks” the author warns his readers about.
In his article, the author relays a “trick” told to him by a top car salesperson: Telling a female buyer that the color of a car matches her eyes.
Well, as cheesy as that might seem, flattery is proven to work. In his classic book, Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini conducted studies proving that even in situations where the test subject knew the flattery was bogus, they still felt good about it afterward.
Here’s a mild version of it on the phone: Instead of the tired “How are you today?” question, try telling your prospect that they sound like they are having a good day.
Here’s how I use this in my own sales practice: Whenever a prospective training client of mine tells me they are doing well and beating quota I always congratulate him or her on what a good job they must be doing.
2) Manufactured Scarcity
The article says, “If you can create the notion that a product or deal is scarce or limited, you create a sense of urgency that will spur the customer to buy.”
Again, true, and proven. If you have a limited-time offer, closeout items, or anything that will expire, point that out to create urgency.
3) Marking Down the Markup
This is an example I see all the time at my local grocery store. They will mark up the baby back ribs to around $8 a pound, and then hold a “two for one” sale.
This is the one trick on this list that I consider a ploy. I personally think is insulting and suggest avoiding it.
The writer uses the example of a furniture store taking a core item, like a bed, and surrounding it with other items that would be in a bedroom with the intention of getting you to buy other items.
Yes, hello, it’s cross-selling, and it’s very effective.
And it’s not a trick — it’s helpful for customers. For example, if someone is buying a tablet, perhaps they might want an extra power cord, since people like me tend to leave them in hotel rooms, or just plain lose them.
A good rule of thumb: The best time to increase the size of a sale is when someone is already buying.
5) Making a House Feel Like a Home
The article cites the real estate examples of baking cookies to create a homey aroma, wetting the grass to make it shine, and putting on mood music.
That’s a trick? I don’t think so! If we have something to sell, don’t we want to make it as attractive as possible?
6) The Emotional Play
This “trick” — are you sitting down? — says that salespeople try to appeal to your emotions so that you will feel good about a possible purchase and have that feeling override any rational objections.
That right there is the goal of any sales conversation.
Of course our job is to get someone to picture themselves already owning, using, and enjoying the results of our products and services. The more skilled you are at this, the more successful you are.
7) Making the Buyer Feel Obligated
The author gives examples of car dealers or stores giving you cookies or sodas, since “we’re kind of prewired to have a sense of reciprocity, and it takes the smallest amount of niceness on the part of a salesperson to make you feel obligated to buy.”
Yes, most definitely. Reciprocity is another proven principle of influence that Cialdini covers in his book. This is especially effective after a first sale, whereby providing extras to a client can help create a more loyal customer.
This is making customers feel like they are members of some exclusive club. Is that such an awful “trick”?
Absolutely not. If part of your value proposition is that you are unique, and especially if you are the top choice in your space, by all means, play these facts up. Know anyone that owns a Harley? You bet they are members of that club and proud of it.
So there you have eight sales “tricks.” But actually, for the most part they are sound principles of persuasion that I suggest you research, refine, adapt, and implement to increase your own sales. And helping people buy isn’t trickery at all.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Smart Calling Online and is republished here with permission.