When you think of psychology, do you imagine someone sitting in a room with a psychologist, sharing his/her thoughts and worries?
Well, while the practice of psychology does involve therapy sessions like the one mentioned, it can also apply to other areas in life—like sales. When it comes to making purchases, emotions play a much bigger role than you might realize. In fact, some experts believe that 90% of our purchasing decisions are made subconsciously.
In other words, when it comes to selling, knowing how to appeal to your customers on an emotional level plays a big role in how successful you are.
Still, as a sales manager, you do not want to waste any more time and money on ineffective sales techniques.
So if you want to help improve your struggling sales team, here are some basic psychology-backed sales techniques that will help them sell more.
4 Psychology-Backed Tips
1. Be Genuine About Your Faults
Sure, you have a great company, but nobody is perfect. Not you. Not your customers. And with that admission comes something quite powerful—a connection. Your customers want to know how you can help solve their problems. Selling is about focusing on their needs, after all.
But you do not have to come off as a squeaky clean company with a pristine track record and zero faults. In fact, having some faults makes you human, just like your customers.
What you should do:
You do not need to air your dirty laundry out, so to speak; you simply need to appeal to your customers by being honest. If your company is not on the same level as your competitors, but you make up the difference with lower costs and better customer service, let your customers know.
For example, Sprint has a powerful campaign right now that features this effective psychological tactic:
They admit in their advertisements that their network reliability is not quite up to par with its competitors, but proudly state that Sprint has made improvements to be within 1% of its competitor’s reliability.
Additionally, they point out a strength of theirs that the other companies cannot say for themselves: that Sprint is saving customers over 50% when compared to other wireless network companies.
In essence, they are providing a huge benefit, but they are also being honest with their customers by highlighting a small weakness when compared to their competitors.
2. Create a Nemesis
With Coca-Cola, there is Pepsi. With McDonalds, there is Burger King. With Apple, there is Microsoft. You get the picture. Every good story has a protagonist and an antagonist.
And when it comes to sales, you want your sales team to be the heroes of the story.
Why is that? Because psychologically speaking, people tend to root for the good guys.
What you should do:
You should not have to go out and pick a fight with your competitors in order to create a nemesis.
You can simply exaggerate one that truly exists—in a way.
For instance, if you work for a company that sells food products, you could tout that your food is “made only for people who enjoy the finer things in life.”
By doing so, a “nemesis” has been created that consists of other food product companies; your product is designed for a “superior” customer base—one that enjoys “the finer things in life.”
Your customers now have a choice. Do they enjoy the finer things too? Or are they part of the “out” crowd now?
Hint: It is probably not the latter.
3. Elevate Your Customers With Labels
Yes, labeling people can be tricky. But, from a psychological standpoint, humans cannot resist labeling people and things. By giving something a label or name, we are able to imbue something or someone with emotional significance.
And as mentioned above, emotions tend to dictate our actions (like our spending habits). In one study, a group of people were brought in to discuss their voting behavior. For the study, half of the group was labeled as “politically active.”
During the following election, there was a 15% higher turnout amongst the people in the group that was labeled “politically active.”
Though this study is certainly not definitive, it does showcase the power of giving your customers a label they can take action with.
What you should do:
When your sales team is talking to a customer, make sure they are pointing out the difference between a standard consumer and a “superior” customer.
If you have different products with different levels of features and price points, make sure that one or a few are designed for “Professionals” or “Industry Leaders.”
You should not be dishonest here, but you should promote the fact that a customer with those titles (or is aspiring to reach them) should be purchasing your products to help them achieve their goals.
4. Support a Great Cause
You have probably seen those commercials where they show photos and videos of helpless animals with sad music playing in the background. Then, at the end of the commercial, they ask viewers to send in a donation to help support and save the animals.
The reason those commercials are so effective is not only because of their ability to tug on your heartstrings—it is also because it is a cause that many people can share and support.
Why is this important?
Because customers are people, first and foremost. And since people are driven by emotions, when they are approached with a cause they believe in, they are compelled to take action.
The ability to champion a cause that your customers can help you with is a great psychological method for improving your sales process.
In fact, over 64% of customers say they have a strong connection to a brand because they share values with the company.
What you should do:
No, you do not have to bring in the sad puppies and start creating a new company video.
You can do something as simple as tying a product to a cause you believe in.
For example, shoe company TOMS started a one-for-one program that supports a generous cause.
Here is how it works: For every pair of TOMS shoes a customer purchases, one pair of shoes is donated to a child in need around the world. Simple.
But you do not need to go one-for-one with selling your products if it does not fit your business model.
By promoting a cause that relates to your company or something that your company truly believes in, you can give your customers some insight into how great your company truly is.
When you build that connection with your customers, you can also promote brand loyalty, which goes a long way if you are looking to improve sales.
Sales Hacks to Help Boost Your Sales Results
With how fast the sales world is moving, sales performance hacks are more necessary than ever before.
There are always new competitors popping up as well as new products similar to your own that are being marketed differently. And that is why it is so important to find and utilize any advantages that will help your team save time and become more efficient at their daily tasks.
So to help your sales team continue to improve and evolve, here are 4 performance-enhancing hacks.
1. Chew gum
Sure, chewing gum is great for keeping your breath fresh, but did you know that it can actually help improve your sales performance?
According to a recent study performed by St. Lawrence University, chewing gum can:
- Improve your memory
- Increase your overall alertness
- Improve reaction times
- Improve your ability to process new information
In that study, 159 participants were tasked with solving a slew of difficult cognitive tasks, such as memory challenges and dot matrix equations.
Of the 159 participants, half were given gum to chew prior to testing, and the other half did not receive any gum.
The results? The study participants that chewed gum performed much better than the participants who did not, on nearly all of the tests. This was due to heightened mental activity caused by chewing, which was shown to improve cognitive performance.
The other discovery, however, was that the brain-boosting benefits were only a temporary effect, lasting around 20 minutes.
Since you do not want your sales reps chewing gum while on sales calls, a great way to maximize this sales performance hack is to have your reps chew gum before or during a training session.
That way their alertness and memory levels are at their peak, and they can process and retain information more effectively.
2. Set goals daily
If your sales team is achieving its goals regularly, then you are probably already setting goals daily.
But if your team is struggling and you feel like there is room for improvement, then maybe it is time to start setting goals more often. This strategy works because setting goals daily keeps you and your team focused and on the road to success.
Here is a simple exercise that can help with setting goals each day:
- Grab a pen and notepad and take a few minutes at the start of every morning to write your top 10 goals.
- After you write a goal, make sure to set a specific deadline for each one. For example, if it is a financial goal, write down that you want to improve your sales team’s results by X% by a specific day, month and year.
Ask your sales team to do this each day and avoid looking back at the previous day’s goals.
At first, writing 10 specific goals with specific deadlines may seem challenging, but as your team continues to write down their goals every day:
- They will begin narrowing down the priorities that will help them reach their sales goals
- They will feel more focused and motivated throughout the day
- They may discover creative new approaches to help them reach their goals more effectively
By having your sales team spend a few quick minutes every day to “program” their minds for success, they will feel less burdened by daily tasks, and they will be able to handle challenges with greater ease as they come.
3. Sniff some peppermint
Yes, you read that right. According to research from Wheeling Jesuit University, inhaling the aroma of peppermint can help improve cognitive abilities. The simple aroma of peppermint was shown to improve memory and attention spans, while also increasing alertness and energy levels.
So how can you take advantage of this sweet performance hack?
Place some peppermint air fresheners around the office or provide fresh mint leaves in the kitchen to give your salespeople’s brains a boost. You can even combine this with tip number one (above) and chew some peppermint gum!
4. Become best friends with your CRM
A Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) system allows your sales team to efficiently keep track of vital information collected from your prospects, leads and customers.
With the help of CRM software, you can store important data such as contact information, specific account information and other notes all in one spot.
That way, your team does not have to worry about losing track of vital information and you and your salespeople can quickly access all of it whenever needed.
Many sales reps, however, are hesitant to use CRM software for several reasons, including:
- The perception that it is just one more step in the sales process
- A lack of enforcement by management to utilize this tool
- Not having a set procedure
- A simple lack of understanding how to use it
Whatever the reason, remind your sales team that using a CRM tool will help them use their time more efficiently, thus allowing them to focus on larger sales goals.
Sell your team on the idea of CRM software by showing them how using this tool can help improve their sales results and work more efficiently.
Let your salespeople try out the CRM software while you guide them through the process, and if possible, show them some positive results from using the CRM (such as a boost in personal productivity or sales).
With this sales performance-enhancing hack, you and your reps will never need to dig through an old-school Rolodex or poorly-organized spreadsheet ever again.
By getting your sales team to spend a little time upfront to gather and enter customer information into one system, they are saving tons of time in the long run, allowing them to focus on their overall sales performance.
Now that you know a few quick tricks and “hacks” to help improve your team’s sales performance, remember to focus on specific goals.
In addition, make sure you and your team take advantage of the extra time and/or the boost in productivity that you are getting from these helpful tips. Even if you are only saving an hour every day, that adds up to over six weeks throughout the year—and that is a lot of valuable time that you can spend growing other areas of your business.
Psychology is not an instant-fix solution, but it can definitely give you some insight into how your customers feel about your company as well as your products or services.
However, as you implement these psychology-backed sales techniques, it is important to avoid using them in a deceptive way.
These are tools you can use to connect with your customers on a more intimate level. When you employ them, you develop a level of trust that can be leveraged into real sales that come from a genuine connection.
And that genuine connection will keep your customers coming back for more every time.