Psychology Applied to Sales
Robert Cialdini was a mad-man scientist who came up with the most revolutionary invention, on the level of Benjamin Franklin. Okay… he wasn’t a mad-man and he didn’t have a revolutionary invention, but in 1984 he did release a book titled Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
In his book he developed the 6 principles of influence, which are still widely respected and accepted as sales psychologies in today’s society.
These principles are extremely effective and it’s evident as Cialdini’s work landed on Fortune’s list of the “75 Smartest Business Books.”
They’ve also been mentioned in numerous publications including 50 Psychology Classics: Who We Are, How We Think, What We Do.
The science of persuasion and the factors that make people say yes have been studied for well over 60 years.
Cialdini’s book and these principles aim to guide the buyer’s decision-making process.
Understanding these principles can have a significant impact on many different aspects of your business.
We’ll give you an example of how you can use each principle within your sales organization and an example specifically for you to teach to your sales reps for them to use at the door.
The 6 Principles & How to Use Them in Your Door-to-Door Sales Business
The first principle is reciprocity, which states that people are more obliged to return the favor to someone who’s done something for them.
This does not mean you should expect or require something in return, but rather hope they do something; it’s not a quid-pro-quo exchange.
Cialdini demonstrated this during his three-year research period where he documented the effects of restaurant waiters and waitresses giving a gift along with the bill.
He noted that if diners were given a single mint or fortune cookie, something along those lines, they saw an average increase in their tips of 3%.
If diners were given two mints instead of one, they saw a 14% increase in tips.
Here’s the kicker: when a waiter or waitress gave one mint and walked away, then turned back and said something like, “For you nice people, here’s an extra mint”, tips were astronomically higher at 23%.
The point of reciprocity is to be the first to give unexpectedly.
Using Reciprocity as a Sales Leader:
Leaders are always supposed to lead by example, right? How about taking an hour out of your day once in a while to find a couple quality leads for reps to work, then giving them to your reps individually in a private conversation while you thank them for their hard work.
What you’re likely to get by not only finding them some qualified leads to work, but also thanking them in a 1 on 1 conversation is a closed sale, an even better work ethic, and more from them on a daily basis.
Using Reciprocity as a Sales Rep:
When the sales rep is talking with a current or potential customer, they need to be able to offer something of value. Being able to solve a quick problem with a prospect’s home or offering to do an inspection for free is a good start. If a sales rep sees a gutter they can quickly fix, they should take the opportunity to at least ask and offer to do it. They could even go as far as offering a mint or piece of candy during the conversation or inspection 😉
Bonus Tip: use a lead management software like SPOTIO to enter in all your leads as you get them to avoid losing them. Leads are money so keep a close eye on them.
2. Consistency / Commitment
This principle says that people want to be consistent in their behaviors and stick to their commitments. You’re looking for small commitments initially, and over time these will become larger as research shows people are significantly more likely to commit to something greater with a person they’ve already committed to once.
Using Commitment as a Sales Leader:
One of the best ways owners or managers can get consistency from their sales staff is to have them write down important information. If a sales manager speaks with each rep and asks how many doors they’re going to knock each day, they should obviously be tracking those metrics.
However, instead of using your sales tracking app to pull those numbers, have reps write down their number at the end of each day and turn it in before they leave. Now use your dashboard to verify that information is accurate.
Using Commitment as a Sales Rep:
This example is similar to the one above. When a sales rep sets an appointment with a prospect, it’s natural to want to send a reminder by text or email as many prospects ask for. Instead, have the sales rep ask the prospect to write that appointment information down in front of them while they’re at the door. This will ensure a higher show rate.
3. Social Proof
Whether it’s consciously or unconsciously, social proof states that people pay attention to what other people around them are doing. People essentially do things because someone else did it first. This is why you have early adopters, or evangelists, of products and need them to cross the chasm to reach your early majority.
Using Social Proof as a Sales Leader:
You’ll love this one. Think about anytime you make a change that’s anywhere near controversial, you undoubtedly have pushback. You need to use those who support the change and your high producing sales reps to support your change. As others see that the best sales reps in the company are in support of the change, they’ll eventually hop on board as well.
Try pulling them aside prior to releasing a big change, getting them on board and then ask for their help with the rest of the team. Boom! Everybody is on board.
Using Social Proof as a Sales Rep:
Social proof is an easy principle of persuasion for sales reps to use. All they need to do is throw out some of your most well-known clients as references during their pitch or use your company’s social media influence. This one is used way more than you probably realize. I’ve seen reps walk around with a laminated template with 6 to 8 pictures – either before/after or of them with the customer and a quote from the customer below it. This is something great you can hand to the customer to checkout why you put together a proposal.
The fourth principle of persuasion, authority, follows the concept where people believe those who are credible and knowledgeable experts in a particular field. Very simply put, people follow those in positions of skill and expertise like doctors, lawyers and officials.
Using Authority as a Sales Leader:
Those in a position of leadership in your organization can always use the owner as a person of authority to reference when speaking with a customer, or they can use a national client they closed as brand recognition. On the other hand, if you do have experience selling your product you can ride along with your reps and occasionally show them how its done.
If you can get in there and close a deal when they are struggling it will show them and permeate through the team that you are the authority here.
Using Authority as a Sales Rep:
Reps have a much easier time using authority because of their position. Let’s say a customer asks a question that a sales rep doesn’t know. Rather than fumbling around trying to take a swing at an answer, the sales rep can do two things to establish authority.
First, they need to humble themselves. Second, they need to reference a person of authority. They should tell the client that they’re not sure of the answer and they’re going to call their “National Vice President Director of Sales Regional Manager of the Mid-Americas for the Midwest States in the Central Time Zone” with over 15 years of experience in the solar industry to get the answer for them. *Yes, that title is a joke, go ahead and laugh because it took me a long time to come up with. Just kidding again, all I had to do was scroll LinkedIn.*
Simon Sinek taught us a lot about the fifth principle of persuasion in his TED Talk. He talked a lot about people liking to buy and do business with those they like. Cialdini’s study of liking led him to conduct research at two well-known business schools to have students come to an agreement and complete negotiation talks.
The first group was told that time was money and they needed to get right to work. They succeeded at reaching an agreement at a 55% rate. The second group was told to trade information about each other and find a similarity they shared in common before starting. This group came to an agreement 90% of the time while also reaching an outcome worth 18% more to both parties.
Using Liking as a Sales Leader:
For leaders to be liked and respected by their team, they need to find something in common. Some of the easiest ways to do this are to take the team out for drinks or play games in the office.
We played a game at SPOTIO pretty early on in my time there where everyone filled out a questionnaire beforehand, then one of each person’s more interesting answers was used for the game and everyone had to guess who it was. We then watched Glengarry Glen Ross and the winner got a Cadillac Eldorado and the person in second place got a set of steak knives. I bring this up because it was fun and I learned a lot about our executive team that I respected,
in addition we found out that one of our team members is a 2016 & 2017 Top Writer on Quora with over 5 million views. How cool is that to know!
Using Liking as a Sales Rep:
Liking is a critical principle of persuasion for your salespeople to use. The easiest way to do this is for the rep to be personable and have an outgoing personality in an effort to find something he or she can relate to with the prospect. Building rapport will help put the customer at ease and allow for a greater exchange of information.
For example, do they have a nice yard or car that they clearly take pride in and you can bring up. Or if you are inside their house and you see a guitar on the wall, I play guitar so I would immediately bring that up and enjoy the conversation.
Our time is wrapping up as we’ve made it to #6, scarcity. This means that people want more of what they can’t have (like our blog posts haha). This is yet another principle that is used quite often without even realizing it. The important thing to remember with scarcity is you need to stick to what you say.
If I get an email from a company offering a 50% discount that ends at midnight, but I don’t take it and decide to call the next day to try and get it, they better not give it to me. If they do, I’m still probably not taking it then because now I know I can get it whenever I want.
Using Scarcity as a Sales Leader:
Managers can use scarcity when running a competition. Instead of saying any rep that knocks 100 doors by 12:00 pm gets a $25 gift card, change it up and say the first two reps who hit that many doors in that time period get a $75 gift card.
Using Scarcity as a Sales Rep:
Like the story above, sales reps can use this rather easily when closing deals. Offer a special promotion for buying on the spot that is only valid through the end of the day to generate scarcity and urgency. But just like mentioned above, when the time has passed you can not give the same deal.
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