How to Use Psychology to Close More Sales

Three Parts:Using Psychological PrinciplesManaging Your Sales PersonaIncreasing Your Customer Base

For decades, marketers have studied psychological principles and techniques to figure out how to sell more product to clients. By incorporating simple techniques into your sales meetings, telephone calls, and presentations, you can increase your successful sales attempts and secure future clients for your business.

Part 1
Using Psychological Principles

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    Give something for free. The principle of reciprocation is a psychological phenomenon described by Dr. Robert Cialdini, an expert in persuasion. According to this theory, it is part of human nature to feel obligated to repay debts of all kinds, big and small.[1] If someone receives something free, they will feel a psychological urge to purchase a product to pay you back for your kindness. [2]
    • Offer a free trial period, a sample, or even a pleasant experience.[3] The free item doesn't even have to be related to the product you are selling; you can send a client free personalized address labels, for example.[4]
    • You can even offer something simple like a beautiful handwritten note.[5]
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    Use price comparison tactics. Psychologically speaking, we determine whether something is a deal by mentally comparing it to other things. One way we do this is by using the "anchoring principle," which means that have an expectation of how much something should cost (that's the anchor) and we compare other items' prices to that expectation. This can make something seem like a good deal even if it isn't.[6] This might seem complicated, but in practice, it's really rather simple:
    • Early on in your sales pitch, mention the suggested retail price of the product or of similar products. This becomes the "anchoring" price-point. Then, if the client doesn't bite, offer a discounted price. For example, you might say, "These windows typically sell for $500 apiece. If you purchase two today, I will give you a third for free. That's like getting each window for only $333." Suddenly the high price of one window doesn't seem so bad.
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    Use the principle of scarcity. Humans are programmed to stock up on whatever necessities we can so that we don't run out in times of famine. You can use this tendency to your own benefit by making your product seem scarce or in high demand.[7]
    • Offer a sale or promotion "for a limited time" or "until supplies run out." You can also say "Today is the last day this product will be available for this price."[8]
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    Use the principle of social validation. Your clients want to do things that are "on trend" and otherwise socially acceptable. In fact, they are more likely to purchase a product or service if they think that a lot of other people, especially people similar to them, have done the same thing.[9]
    • You can talk about "your best selling product," or one that "is really popular with" a certain kind of person like your client (for example, busy moms, teachers, single men, etc.). This convinces would-be clients that your product is a popular one.
    • You can also try to increase your sales by getting other people to do your marketing for you. For example, if your business has a Facebook page, offer a prize for the person who refers the most friends by sharing a post on their Facebook wall. When people share about a product on Facebook, their friends see it as a personal recommendation which gives your product more validity in their eyes.[10]

Part 2
Managing Your Sales Persona

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    Be likable. Research has shown that the more someone likes you, the more likely they are to be persuaded by you.[11] Likability has several elements that you can keep in mind:
    • Similarity: Human beings are pretty self-absorbed, and psychological research has found that people tend to like other people who seem most like themselves. You can emphasize things you have in common with your potential client (perhaps you both have kids, maybe you both love golf, or perhaps you grew up in the same hometown). You can also subtly mirror the body language of the potential client, which research has found can effectively cause the person to feel that you are similar to them.[12]
    • Attractiveness: Whether it's fair or not, it's true that people tend to be most easily persuaded by attractive people.[13] Do your best to present a clean, neat, professional, and attractive appearance when you're with clients.
    • Humorous: People tend to like people who are funny, so using jokes can help you in closing sales. However, you have to be careful about using humor to persuade others; off-color jokes or offensive humor, forced humor, too much sarcasm, or dry humor that is hard to discern can have the opposite effect and push people away. Try to use just a bit of humor (if you're naturally funny) in your sales pitch. Self-effacing humor, as long as it is done sparingly, can be particularly effective, as some people find it endearing.[14]
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    Be an expert. No one will buy your product if you can't answer their questions about it, so not only do you need to know everything about your product, you also need to be able to communicate about it in a matter-of-fact way that communicates that you are an expert who can be trusted.[15]
    • Learn about the product, including its history, manufacturing process, the company that makes it, its ingredients, any ethical issues around its manufacturing or sales, how long it lasts, etc.
    • Learn about the competition. What products are similar, and what are their shortcomings? What makes your product the best to buy?
    • If a potential client asks a question that you can't answer, be honest. Don't try to make up information or cover for yourself. You will appear more trustworthy with a simple explanation like, "I'm not sure about that, but I'm happy to find out and get back to you." Then follow up as soon as possible.
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    Be authentic. In a nutshell, authenticity can be defined as “undisputed credibility,” that appealing characteristic that truly honest people of integrity possess. Authenticity allows you to speak the truth, not from self-righteousness, rudeness, or ego but from truly intending to improve the situation for everyone concerned.
    • When it comes to sales, authenticity means that you should believe in the product that you're pushing, and actually believe it will help the client to purchase it.[16]
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    Stay positive. This is getting the prospect speaking about what they like about a particular product or service, and why they like it. This helps you to frame your pitch in such a way that it hits the key points and features that the customer is most interested in.
    • While it may seem obvious not to belabor any negative aspects of what you’re selling, it’s worth mentioning that it’s never appropriate to badmouth another company or their product or service.

Part 3
Increasing Your Customer Base

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    Ask for referrals. Contact your existing clients and ask if they would be willing to refer some friends or colleagues to you. It’s completely up to you (or perhaps, your company) whether you offer any kind of incentive or reward for such referrals.
    • Individuals are more likely to make a purchase if they have been referred by someone they know and trust.[17]
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    Ask for testimonials. You can use testimonials from actual customers on your website, Facebook, flyers, or other promotional materials. This increases the social capital behind the product, so that new clients will believe that lots of people have tried the product and like it.[18]
    • Start with family and friends. If your business is new, you may not have a lot of former clients to ask for referrals. Ask trustworthy friends or family to write an honest testimonial or review. You can also give away free products in exchange for honest reviews.
    • Rather than directly asking your existing clients for a testimonial, just ask them what they like most about the product or service, or have them explain why they love using it. Once they’ve explained, ask if they would be willing to allow you to share their comments with other potential clients. You can even offer to keep their names confidential (for example, list the statement as made by “Marcus P.” as opposed to “Marcus Peterson”).
    • Attaching a smiling, flattering picture of the client to the testimonial is a great way to increase the testimonial's credibility. Ask the person giving the testimonial if they are comfortable with that.
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    Offer incentives. Everyone likes to get something for free, so offer a discount, product with purchase, or another incentive to potential clients for their business.[19]
    • You can also offer an incentive for customers who refer new clients.[20] Just be sure to draft out the limits of the offer in case it goes viral online. For example, you might want to offer a free product to existing clients who refer new clients. But your offer might circulate in social media without your knowledge and result in thousands of requests for free products. Instead, you can specify in the original offer that you will provide free products to the first 100 clients who refer a new client, or however many you can accommodate.


  • Be honest and sincere. If you are trustworthy, people are more likely to want to do business with you and refer their friends to you.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Psychology Studies | Sales