6 Psychological Triggers that Win Sales and Influence Customers
Whenever anyone asks me what marketing books I recommend that will help them sell more, the very first one I point them to is by Robert Cialdini, published in 1984.
A professor of psychology and marketing, Cialdini lays out six ways you can get people to say yes to what you're asking. Anyone who sells things for a living, online or offline, should know, love, and live these principles:
· Commitment & Consistency
· Social Proof
Let's take a look how you can build some of these influence triggers into your online store to start getting more sales and customers.
The principle of reciprocity means that when someone gives us something we feel compelled to give something back in return. Have you ever gone to Costco ended up with an unplanned sausage purchase in your cart because you felt a nagging obligation to buy because you tried a free sample? Well, that was the principle of reciprocity in action.
2. Commitment & Consistency
The principle of commitment and consistency says that people will go to great lengths to appear consistent in their words and actions - even to the extent of doing things that are basically irrational.
That’s why if you’re trying to make a change in your life - losing weight, for example - it can be very helpful to state your goal publicly. Once you’ve committed out loud (or online) you will have much more incentive to keep up your end of the bargain.
As a retailer, if you can get customers to make a small commitment to your brand (like signing up for your email newsletter), they are more likely to eventually purchase from you. And if you can actually get products in their hand, even if there is no official commitment to buy them, your chances increase even more.
The principle of liking says that we are more likely to say yes to a request if we feel a connection to the person making it. That’s why the sausage sample lady at Costco is always giving you a nice smile.
It’s also why brands hire celebrities to endorse their products - so that people will transfer their love of Roger Federer to watches he’s endorsing.
Most people have heard of the famous , in which volunteers were convinced to continue delivering what they thought were incredibly painful electric shocks to unseen subjects, even when they could hear (faked) screams of pain. The presence of a man in a lab coat telling them to continue was enough to earn the compliance of nearly all the volunteers.
5. Social Proof
The principle of social proof is connected to the principle of liking: because we are social creatures, we tend to like things just because other people do as well, whether we know them or not. Anything that shows the popularity of your site and your products can trigger a response.
Cialdini’s final principle is the principle of scarcity, which states that people are highly motivated by the thought that they might lose out on something. Call it the Eternal Teenager Principle: if someone tells you that you can’t have it - boy, do you want it. This is probably the one I’m the biggest sucker for, personally.
Marketers trigger this effect by using all kinds of tactics to suggest that products (or low prices) might soon be gone, or that someone is trying to keep this product off the market.