DILATE’S 6 KEY INFLUENCE PRINCIPLES OF SELLING
WHETHER YOU WORK ON OR OFFLINE, SALES ARE LIKELY TO BE AN INTEGRAL ASPECT OF YOUR ENTERPRISE
While many of us are aware of the importance of delivering a high standard of customer care, there are a number of psychological triggers which can enable you to influence your customers and increase sales. According to professor of psychology and marketing, and author of the New York Times Best-seller The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini, these psychological triggers can be condensed down into six key principles.
CONSISTENCY: MOST BUSINESS OWNERS UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF CONSISTENCY TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN CUSTOMERS.
However, making a public commitment to your goal will not only provide you with greater incentive to maintain your consistency but can allow you to encourage those interested in your products to make the step towards being a customer.
Even a small commitment such as signing up for a newsletter or following you on social media, increases the chances that that person will eventually make a purchase. However, if you can get your products into your customer’s homes, there is an even greater chance of making that sale. By allowing your customers to have no commitment for a purchase, you can actually develop a commitment to buy your items as soon as they open up the box.
Another way to harness this principle is to advertise a very easy returns policy. If the customer is fully aware that they are not obligated to keep items they are not totally happy with, they are more likely to order and in all likelihood not return the item as they are committed to the transaction.
RECIPROCITY: THE THEORY OF RECIPROCITY IS THAT CUSTOMERS MAY BE COMPELLED TO GIVE SOMETHING IN RETURN.
This can be a massive psychological trigger, that you are likely to have already experienced. For example, if you have found yourself buying a product in your local store after trying a sample, you have been influenced by reciprocity.
For online retailers, a free sample for potential customers is not always feasible. However, this does not mean that the principle of reciprocity cannot be beneficial. A great method of harnessing this potential is to offer a free gift with a purchase. Often samples of products into a shipped order can not only offer customers the opportunity to try out other items in your product range but may earn additional orders.
If your business does not involve physical products, it is still possible to benefit from the principle of reciprocity. You can offer your customers a content gift. Whether this is a free recipe or exclusive content, a content gift can be an ethical bribe to trigger gratitude for you and your business.
LIKEABILITY: CONNECTIONS ARE AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS.
The main principle of customer service is service with a smile, as a friendly server will be more receptive to customers. However, this principle is also used by companies to allow customers to make a positive connection with their products, which is why celebrities are often used to endorse products. This allows customers to use the products that their favorite celebrity or sports personality uses.
While it may not be feasible to use a celebrity to enhance your brand, it is still possible to use the trigger of liking to your advantage. The easiest way to do this is to tell your story. Allowing your personality to infuse your brand will appeal to your target market.
This principle has been made even easier with the development of social media. People are more likely to take note of a recommendation from a friend or someone they trust and buy an item. Social media also allows business owners to directly make contact with those who are interested in your product range. You can also share your good feedback, positive press or great customer emails.
SOCIAL PROOF: ANOTHER ASPECT OF LIKEABILITY IS THAT GENERALLY MOST PEOPLE HAVE A SENSE THAT THERE IS SAFETY IN NUMBERS.
There is a general feeling that if others are already doing something, it must be okay.
This principle is particularly applicable when people are feeling uncertain and they may be more susceptible to those who appear similar. For example, commercials tend to use mother figures to sell household products rather than celebrities.
The best method of businesses harnessing this principle is by presenting the products which are the hottest and in greatest demand. While some businesses may harness a “most popular” page to sell stock taking up valuable warehouse space, it can actually be a great way to boost desirability, especially if your claim is supported by social proof such as ratings and reviews from reputable sources.
EXPERTISE & AUTHORITY: IN ORDER TO ENGENDER CUSTOMER CONFIDENCE, IT IS IMPORTANT TO ESTABLISH AUTHORITY IN YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE.
Most people are programmed to respect figures of authority and this hard wiring can be used to influence your customers and boost sales. Establishing your authority can be accomplished in a number of ways. The most obvious is to display expert support for your products from professionals with respected credentials.
However, obtaining a professional expert support may not always be feasible. Fortunately, it possible to demonstrate a little authority with expert curation. For example, if you are selling health and fitness products, have a personal trainer pick out his favourite must have items.
SCARCITY: THE FINAL KEY PRINCIPLE OF PERSUASION IS SCARCITY. THE OLD ADAGE OF YOU WANT WHAT YOU CAN’T HAVE IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THIS. PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE MORE HIGHLY MOTIVATED IF THEY ARE CONCERNED THAT THEY MAY MISS OUT.
Marketers are often using this technique with “must end soon” sales or low stock available advertising. These techniques encourage buyers to hurry up and act or they will risk losing out.
Another aspect of harnessing the principle of scarcity is by having limited or seasonal products. Whether it is a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake in March or a Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spiced Latte in Winter, these giants have recognised that seasonal products will generate more excitement than if they were readily available all year round.
These six principles have been shown to have a massive influence on customers and sales, but it is important to remember that for sustained business growth, they need to be used responsibly. You should not attempt to deceive or mislead your potential customers as dishonesty will hurt your business long term and compromise a good reputation which may have taken years to build.