In a world where an average consumer sees countless ads daily, persuading someone to buy your product or pay for your services can be challenging. People have become ad-savvy and are not easily manipulated into buying decisions. On the other hand, if you have a good product that will bring value to the customers, manipulation is not at all necessary. Instead, you need to convince the potential buyer to take a closer look — and if the offer is good, people will readily pay for it.

But how do you do that in such a noisy digital crowd? The surest strategy is to understand your target audience’s consumer behavior. The study of consumer behavior is a multidisciplinary area that explores sociology, psychology, anthropology, and neurology in addition to marketing and economics. 

On the other hand, you do not need to be an expert in those diverse fields to understand how your target buyers think and influence their purchase behavior. Robert Cialdini already wrote the most concise, volume-packed work. His psychological principles of persuasion have become a timeless classic and the leading marketing action guide for anyone interested in the power of psychology to influence buying decisions. 

Now, let’s dissect these principles individually and offer practical tips for implementing them in your sales strategy. 

Reciprocity: Happy Clients Return Favors 

Understanding marketing reciprocity is one of the first sales manager skills that directly translates into profit. People feel the need to return favors, which is why so many brands offer all sorts of freebies—from eBooks for registering on their site to new sample products with each purchase. 

The tactic works two ways: offering clients a good ‘preview’ of a product and urging them to reciprocate. This reciprocation does not always mean a direct purchase; it can be a positive review, a referral, or a word-of-mouth recommendation. Eventually, the reciprocation principle will increase the number of leads and boost sales. 

So, give first, and the rewards will follow. 

Commitment: People Are Consistent in Their Ideas 

In business, consistency is a shortcut in our decision-making process. Once we have decided on something, we stick to our beliefs and opinions. There is a direct neurological link here — making a choice is extra brain effort, and our brains are tuned in to avoid unnecessary pains. 

In sales, this principle implies building loyalty that turns leads into regular customers. A customer who is already happy with your products or services will not waste effort looking for other providers.

Inspiring loyalty can be done by regularly updating the service range, introducing new product features, and informing the customers about all updates. A consistent (and engaging) social media strategy is often the surest way to inspire loyalty. Keep offering your clients something of value, and they will not bother to look elsewhere. 

Social Proof: We Trust Things Endorsed by Others

This psychological principle powers the whole concept of social media. People do not enjoy decision-making, so they would instead follow the advice of someone they trust and make an uncertain choice on their own.

Offering clients top-notch services and encouraging their endorsements is the only way to build trust with new leads. It takes time and effort, but the strategy always pays off in the long run. 

Then again, getting buyers to endorse a business is not just about offering good services and freebies. It is about making the endorsements as easy and effortless as possible. Optimize your website and social media for reviews, send occasional email reminders to share feedback, etc. 

Authority: People Trust & Readily Follow Leaders

This principle is closely related to the concept of building social proof but is based more on earning a reputation as an expert in a given niche. Think about the resounding success of Monday CRM during the Covid lockdown. It was not just about good timing (even though the timing played its part); the brand started posting content about the best remote collaboration strategies, earning itself a reputation as a qualified, trusted expert.

The same principle applies to everyday marketing, especially B2B sales. Brands and products that invest in their reputation as top experts enjoy steady sales because we trust and follow market leaders. 

Liking: We’d Rather Buy from People We Like

In direct, face-to-face sales, this concept needs no explanation. In the digital world, the feeling of ‘liking’ applies to brands as a whole rather than to separate salespeople. It is, once again, about consistent branding, relatable stories and messages, etc. The ground principles of liking someone in face-to-face conversation also apply to written communication. 

For example, successful business developers, marketers, and even recruiters often use a LinkedIn email finder to send their first message over a direct communication channel. Even though reaching out over a social messenger is quicker, using a direct communication channel creates the feeling of a closer, more personal encounter. Besides, it shows that the person initiating the conversation has already invested some effort, which builds liking AND inspires reciprocity. 

That is why all direct marketing offers that call for a reply should better be sent to recipients directly — even when you find prospects on social media. 

Scarcity, aka Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Most of today’s marketing efforts focus on FOMO and inspire the need to act urgently. Consider all the standard call-to-action clichés, like ‘limited time only,’ ‘only 3 left in stock,’ ‘major discount today,’ ‘act now,’ etc. Even if most of us understand (consciously, at least) that these offers are not quite so time-limited, we are still incentivized to think about them right now. And if we’ve already started thinking, the decision to act (buy) often follows. 

There are many smart FOMO marketing strategies for boosting sales, but not all of them are ‘consciously’ based on fear. Products that highlight the sense of exclusivity inspire similar emotions, and generally, anything that appeals to emotion has the same effect. We just want it—now!

Unity: We Crave to be Part of a Community 

Unlike the first six Cialdini principles, introduced in 1984, the seventh one was only proposed in 2016. But the concept is still as old as humanity itself — basically, the desire to belong is our ‘pack instinct’ tracing back to cave times.

In marketing and sales, this principle is about buying things others in our community have. Think about fashion trends teenagers follow (often blindly) or mile-long lines before the Apple stores right after the new product launch. 

Like most other tactics described above, the concept of unity builds on the previous principles, enhancing and supplementing each persuasion technique that followed. This is the so-called cherry on top. Brands that want to build a loyal community of followers will have to master the first six principles of psychological persuasion before they reach this ultimate peak. 

Of course, these principles allow plenty of room for experimentation, which is why they are such an excellent framework for influencing buying decisions. Depending on the product, several of these rules can be balanced in a long-term marketing strategy. 

The last tip is always to stay authentic. Today’s consumers can easily spot fraud or inconsistent branding, so work on building trust with your buyers and don’t search for loopholes. After all, tricks never work in the long run. 

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