Everyone in sales is looking for an edge. Whether it’s an untapped new lead source, or some inside information that can give you an advantage over your competition, you do what you can to win the deal. But what if there’s an obvious, yet often overlooked, way to give yourself a competitive advantage?
There is, and it’s something that advertisers, authors and even casinos already use to get you to think and behave a certain way: human psychology. Admittedly, the human psychology is complex, and often our understanding of it is both profoundly limited and constantly evolving. But the good news is that you don’t need a PhD to use it to your advantage in sales.
Here are some ways you can use human psychology to benefit you on your next pitch:
1. Loss aversion
In cognitive psychology and decision theory, loss aversion is when people prefer avoiding losses over acquiring equivalent gains. In other words, most people would rather not lose $5 than gain $5. In sales, you can leverage loss aversion by letting your prospect know that they’re likely to lose money on a deal by putting off a decision, or perhaps by going with your competitor. Focus on what they’re going to lose to drive the point home. It could be what puts them over the edge and turns them into a customer.
2. Focus on speed and convenience
We’re wired to expect quick gratification and instant results. Nobody wants to wait weeks for their packages to arrive, and nobody loves the idea of working out for months just to lose a few pounds. This is why you should always stress you and your company’s ability to solve the prospect’s problem quickly and with as little hassle for them as possible. Write this down on a post-it note so that you can include it in every single one of your pitches. Convenience and speed tends to be a big consideration in marketing, but can sometimes fall through the cracks during sales presentations.
3. Admit shortcomings
Studies on human psychology have shown that companies who admit to some “strategic failures” are able to gain customer trust more easily than ones that blame their mistakes on outside forces. This is why you shouldn’t shy away from admitting where you and your company might not be as strong, rather than denying or deflecting your weaknesses. That being said, be mindful of volunteering unnecessary information in an effort to build trust.
Humans tend to trust people who they see as the authority on a particular subject. So if you’re able to present yourself as the authority in your respective space or industry, you’ll have a massive advantage when it comes to closing a deal. Of course, you should try to become an authority the honest way; by learning your products and industry inside and out, including understanding the entire competitive landscape. But it doesn’t hurt to write about your industry and showcase your expertise publicly if possible.
5. Provide fewer options
If you haven’t noticed, there’s been an increasing trend among all businesses, from restaurants to software companies, to simplify offerings and provide people with fewer, high-quality options. There’s a good reason for this; reducing the number of options helps people make decisions. If you’re providing too many choices to your prospect, they’re likely to get overwhelmed and confused. Instead, use your qualifying questions and research on the prospect to narrow down the options that you present to them. You’ll make their decision-making process (and life) easier and you’re likely to see a more positive response.
6. Surprise them
People love surprises. Think about those rare occasions when you ended up paying less (or receiving more) than you had expected. You can use this strategically during your sales pitches and presentations, holding back extra benefits and presenting them as a bonus on top of everything else that you’re already offering. Not only will it help to build value in the prospect’s mind, but it’ll also delight them and make them feel like they’re special, which is exactly how everybody wants to feel.