Trick #1: Offer fewer choices

Increase the number of products in your offer and sales will go up. Get different software packages and you will be able to sell more.

That sounds logical, doesn’t it? But in actuality, you may be doing yourself a disservice.

In her book Neuro Web Design, Susan Weinschenk describes an experiment in a supermarket where shoppers can taste a selection of jams.

In situation (A) 24 different gourmet jams were placed on a table. In situation (B) only 6 jams were placed on the table.

Unsurprisingly, increasing the number of jams, meant that far more customers stopped to check them out (60% compared to 40% when there were only 6 jams).

But more importantly, more choice did not equal more sales.

Fewer choices generated 10 times as many sales. Confronted with the extensive collection only 3% of shoppers selected to buy a jam. But when they had a limited choice, 30% of shoppers decided to buy.

Strange? Not really. Making choices is tiresome. Offer too many choices, and not buying seems easier.

How to use this sales trick to sell more:

Don’t offer product options that are very similar to each other because it makes choosing more difficult.
Be careful with introducing new products without discontinuing others.
If you have a large range of products, try helping your customers choose. Consider discussing only a limited range.

Trick #2: Propose something less attractive

Sometimes you need a slow-moving product because it helps establish a price point. This is often called a decoy product: a model or package available to help something else.

Let’s have a look at an experiment that Dan Ariely describes in his fascinating book Predictably Irrational.

Situation A: 100 students are given these options to subscribe to the Economist:

Online-only subscription: USD 59.00 (selected by 68 students)
Print & web subscription: USD 125.00 (selected by 32 students)

Now let’s introduce a new option: print-only. This new offer is shown to 100 other students:

Online-only subscription: USD 59.00
Print-only subscription: USD 125.00
Print & web subscription: USD 125.00

Can you guess what happened?

The number of students selecting the expensive option of print & web went up from 32 to 84!

How does that work?

The print-only subscription makes the print & web option look less expensive.

How to use this sales trick to sell more:

Introduce a product that makes your standard model look like a better deal. Consider a product at a similar price but with fewer features or lower specifications.

Alternatively, introduce a hero product at a much higher price, so your standard product looks more reasonably priced.

Trick #3: Appeal to emotions

Are your prospects rational buyers?

If you ask them why they’ve selected a product, they will most likely justify their purchase with facts pointing out the differences in specifications or features.

But it’s quite likely that they made their decision subconsciously before they became aware of it. Roger Dooley suggests that 95% of brain activity is subconscious. So you should always be suspicious when someone tries to explain his or her purchasing decision.

How important is emotion in buying decisions? It’s difficult to say. But what is clear, is that persuasion by telling stories works. Stories carry us away making us less aware of attempts to persuade us.

How to use this sales trick to sell more:

Don’t rely on facts and statistics alone. Try persuading your customers with stories or case studies.
Of course, you still need to explain features and specifications because they help justify purchasing decisions, but lead with the story.

Trick #4: Talk about NOT buying

Let’s look at another useful example of irrationality.

In his book Brain Bugs, Dean Buonomano describes the following experiments.

In the first experiment people were given $50 and then given this choice:

(A) Keep $30
(B) Take a gamble with a 50/50 chance of keeping or losing the full $50.

In the above test 43% of people chose to gamble their money.

A second experiment was conducted. The only difference was that option A was re-phrased as:

(A) Lose $20

There’s absolutely no difference between keeping $30 or losing $20, because the experiment started off with receiving $50. Keeping $30 means you’re losing $20, doesn’t it?

Still the number of people choosing to gamble went up from 43% in the first experiment to 62% in the second.

That’s not rational, is it?

As Buonomano explains, the way something is described has an impact on the decisions we take. Psychologists call this framing. But something else is at play here: loss aversion. When option A was described as a loss, people chose to try and limit that loss by gambling more often.

How to use this sales trick to sell more:

Point out to your prospects what they’ll lose out on if they don’t buy your product.

Trick #5: Gain agreement on something small

sales pitch trick gain agreementImagine you’re selling cookies for a charity. Rather than calling on people’s homes straightaway, you phone them first to ask whether you can send a volunteer to their house to sell some cookies. When this was done is a scientific study, 18% agreed.

Now, imagine trying a different approach. You phone people, and ask them how they’re feeling this evening. You wait for their reply, and then ask whether you can send a volunteer to sell some cookies for charity.

In the second scenario the percentage of people agreeing increased to 32%. That’s a massive increase. What’s going on?

In his book Influence, Robert Cialdini describes this experiment and several others to explain the consistency principle. Simply said, this means that once people have agreed with something (it’s a pleasant evening), they’re more likely to agree something else (yes, you can send someone to sell us some cookies).

How to use this sales trick to sell more:

Don’t immediately aim for a sale during your pitch. Try to get your prospect to agree on the challenges he faces at his organization or the difficulties his solution presents. Start small before aiming big.

The Truth About Decision Making

Research has discovered a lot about human psychology and decision making. The truth is, human nature will often trump the facts, no matter how great your product or service may be. The best way to win at selling is to use the information out there about human behavior and decision making to your advantage.