“Consumer psychology is all about getting into that unconscious territory where people are being directed to make purchases for reasons they are not clear about” – Michael Fishman
Consumer psychology is not an irrational guessing game anymore, companies and businesses are making conscious efforts to find the perfect strategy that uses consumer psychology to sell their products.
Sales operations often involve direct interaction with the customers and prospects, this makes it even more important to be aware of the consumer behavior and psychology. Your sales team needs to know what to say and what not to, how to approach a prospect and how not to, and many other psychological strategy aspects.
Here are five tips your sales team can put to use to maximize impact of their sales pitch, and by extension, increase the profits.
1. Attack the ‘Buyer’s remorse’
Remorse can be a game-changer for any business. Whilst you want your customer to associate your product with happiness and satisfaction, your customers are associating it with the worst of feelings – regret!
Buyer’s remorse or post-purchase cognitive dissonance is a sense of regret felt by the customer because they think they may waste their well-saved money or limited budget on your product service, which they really don’t even need.
This problem is very real because many consumers and even business buyers get swept up in the moment and buy your product or service. Yet, the moment they receive a message from their bank or a question from their boss about purchase ROI, reality strikes them.
Here are some measures your sales team can take before and after the purchase process:
Prior to the purchase
- Be absolutely sincere. If you think that the product doesn’t match your customer’s needs at all, tell them what you think and maybe even help them find what they want. This way, maybe you are losing a sale, but you are keeping the trust intact. Plus, you never know, they just might refer you to someone else.
- Try and make sense to the customer. Stop listing the amazing features of your product, instead tell them how those features can make their life easy.
- Send them some stats or brief reports on the performance of the product. This may give them some reassurance about their choice.
- Share testimonials and reviews of your other customers with them. I once bought a wallet online and a few days later I got a mail saying that the wallet is highly in demand and that I beat everyone to it. Definitely silly, may be even made up, but was I pleased? You bet!
For example, at my startup Hiver, even before the initial purchase, we organize a sit down with our new client and take the time to explain exactly how our product can help them. We believe that customers are more satisfied with their decision when they believe it is an informed one. This practice has reduced the average time we spend on solving customer problems, and the repeat purchase rate has doubled.
Buyer’s remorse not only damages your sales right now, but it can have a long-term effect on your clients’ minds, by prompting them to be overly cautious upon renewal.
2. Don’t ignore the power of selective perception
Selective perception is a crucial aspect you must factor in while tailoring your sales message. According to this psychological principle, people pick and choose the messages they want to listen to consciously, or subconsciously.
For instance, you are a coffee-lover; on your home page there are two posts one talks about how beneficial coffee can be and the other talks about its harmful conditions. Because you are partial to coffee you conveniently chose to ignore the second post and only read the first one.
Here’s the problem, what if your product falls in the category of things that your potential customer tends to filter out? The answer is to tailor your sales pitch to bypass those filters.
Here are some tips which can help you tailor your pitch:
- Examine the complaints and queries they pose and answer them in your pitch to future prospects.
- Get feedbacks, especially from leads/prospects who didn’t buy to better approach future leads.
- Use market segmentation and understand the general psychology of each segment before framing your pitch.
- Use data analytics to observe and understand the consumer behavior before you walk over to them.
3. Beat the ‘Do I really need it?’ question
More often than not, we don’t buy things unless we feel the absolute need for it or a sense of urgency to get the product.
For instance, one of your prospects is considering buying a car, but he is also second guessing the need for it. He can travel to work using office-provided cars, and for other purposes he can use the public transport, and so he wonders if he really needs a car?
What should the sales guy do? Not care and back off? Not really.
The salesperson must help them see the genuine need for it. For example, they can show the customer how much extra time they get by not having to wait for public transport and office cars, and the money they can save by investing in a car.
Remember, you are not forcing them to see the need, you are helping them to see the need! Here are some points to remember:
- According to Maslow’s need hierarchy the most crucial of human needs is a sense of safety and security. So, try and trigger those needs in your sales pitch.
- Focus on how the product can make the customer’s life easier/better, so that they can understand the need for the product. Don’t say things like ‘It’s a great product because it belongs to ABC brand.’
4. Don’t give your consumers a choice paralysis
According to a HBR study, as the variety of snacks, beers and other items go up on a menu, the level of customer satisfaction and the volume of consumption decreases. This is what we call having too many choices. This is bad because the customers get confused and lost when you put so many options in front of them.
So no, as cool as it seems to offer your customers hundreds of choices, you must refrain from doing that, unless you want your customers to get mentally paralyzed into inaction!
Here’s what I advise:
- First listen to your customer’s needs carefully. Using those filters, eliminate all the irrelevant choices, and give two or three options for them to choose from. Less confusion, less chaos.
- Choice paralysis can occur because of too many similar products in the market too. If your product is such that you are one among the many choices in the market, the only way you can grab your customer’s attention is by differentiating yourself with a unique feature/proposition.
5. You must appeal to the consumer’s self-concept
It’s important for the customers to be able to see themselves using your product. For example, a flashy product is not going to appeal to all types of customers.
You often hear customers saying things such as ‘this watch is not me,’ ‘this car doesn’t represent my personality,’ etc. This is what ‘not appealing to self-concept’ means.
I understand – how can you make a product that can appeal to the unique self-concepts of the millions of potential customers out there, right?
Well that’s definitely impossible; what’s possible though is to portray the product in such a way that you can sync in with THEIR self-concept.
- When a customer first approaches you, don’t throw everything you have at them. Take the time to understand the consumer’s mind – are they focused on the brand? Do they need the product for informal use or office use? What colors do they seem to prefer? What are their concerns? Using all this info, zero in on a possible option and then present it to them.
- Market segmentation is an important tool here too. For example, if you are selling a car to a 60 year old, often they would prefer pleasant muted car models and colors, but 22 year old would want something fancier! So you must train your sales team to understand the behaviors of various market segments beforehand.
‘Knowing who your customers are is great, but knowing how they behave is even better’
– Jon Miller
About the author: Niraj Ranjan Rout is the founder of Hiver, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. Niraj works on programming, customer support and sales, and also contributes to design and UI. He’s a fusion music aficionado, loves to play the guitar when he can.