In his landmark book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, psychologist Dr Robert Cialdini wrote about an experiment that was conducted by a Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer.
In the experiment Ellen Langer tried to cut queue in a library photocopy machine. First she asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”
This “request accompanied with reason” formula is pretty potent. 94 per cent agreed to let the person cut queue.
Later on she changed the question to “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” Without providing a reason only 60 per cent of the people asked agreed to let her cut queue.
But here is the shocker.
She changed her question again to “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” As you may realise, she did not actually give a valid reason justify the request.
“I have to make some copies” did not actually provide additional information to the people in the queue. It is already obvious that she was there to make photocopies but so were the rest of the people in the queue.
And yet, 93 per cent of the people asked agreed! Why is that so?
It was concluded that just by saying the word “because”, it can trigger the impression that a valid reason will be given.
In another similar experiment conducted by a television program in Canada, the experimenter asked to cut queue in a convenience store. And they too had similar results which proved that the result was not a coincidence.
This phenomenon has to do with people’s tendency to always look for reasons and meaning in anything.
That is why we try our best to make sense of our environments. For everything that happens we look for reasons behind them to attach meanings. It is part of our deep unconscious habitual processes.
We try to systemise and make logic out of them. We try to reason things out. And that is why we are such a sucker for reasons. And sometimes, even when the reasons are not fully explained or just implied, we take action based on those implications anyways.
It is important to realise that this is how your prospects behave too. It is part of our genetic make up. So when we give people reasons, or perceived reasons to take certain action, chances are much higher that they will do it compared to if you give them no reason at all.
Again, this is a powerful technique that costs you nothing, but we guarantee that it will give you much better sales conversion.
At the same time, the best reason we can give a prospect to take action is the reason they already have in their mind. It is their internal motivation. Let us explain.
In a Newsweek interview, Steven D. Levitt author of Freakonomics, explained that people have internal motivations that drives them to take action.
These internal motivations might not be apparent immediately and might be totally different from what people superficially observe.
He quoted the example of a behaviour commonly observed in the American Old West. When a barn burned down, the community would come together and help out to rebuild the barn.
The superficial observation of that would be that the people are altruistic. However, when you get closer you will discover that there is other internal motivation that drives them.
They are thinking that if they don’t help, if their barn burned down, they won’t get any help from others as well.
This internal motivation is what drives people to take action. People’s motivation is not as apparent as we might think because they might not be based on logic. More often than not, people’s motivations are based on illogical emotions.
For example, let’s say you sell computer systems to corporations. An operation manager from a company comes by looking to upgrade his department’s computer system.
Superficially judging, we probably think that he is upgrading the systems to improve his department’s performance. That’s the logical reasoning right?
But you’re not only dealing with a logical business entity, instead, you’re dealing with an individual who has internal motivations.
If you take the time to look deeper, you might find that he is upgrading the computer system because he wants to outdo his rival manager in the same company so that he looks good in front of his bosses and has a better chance for the upcoming promotion.
Or, he is doing it because the cute girl he is interested in dating in his department has been complaining to him about how old their computer system is and he is trying to impress her, which may have little to do with what his company really needs.
You probably have come across something like that before, or even behaved like the operations manager yourself. Don’t be embarrassed, it’s perfectly normal.
The important thing is to realise that there are internal motivations that might not be so apparent that drives people to take action. Once you find out their internal motivations and match it with what you have to offer, then objections and resistance will fall away, including price objections.
This is how Angelo Augustus of Pertama Holdings (Harvey Norman) explains it “The more information you get from the customer, the easier it is for you to be able to recommend the right product and help them to make the right buying decision.
Unfortunately, most salespeople just don’t do that. They don’t take the time to ask questions and find out the customer’s buying motivation. The customer might think that it is the product for them because their neighbour is using it. Or maybe, their best friend told them that it is the latest whizz-bang and it is the best.
But it might not be the best product that suits their needs. As a professional salesperson, they need to qualify the customer’s needs. When they trust you and feel that you will take care of them, price is no longer the top consideration. In many cases, when trust is established, price becomes a non-issue.”
Once you have matched their internal motivation to what you have to offer, the next step is to give them irresistible incentive for them to close the deal.
(picture credits to: http://www.fourthgradenothing.com/2012_02_01_archive.html)
The irresistible incentive is designed to push them over the edge. Do you remember the world famous Ginsu knives infomercial? If you have not seen the infomercial before we encourage you to watch it over at YouTube.
It’s an excellent advertisement that any business can learn from. The infomercial clearly demonstrated the difference and superiority of the Ginsu knives by using them to cut through various tough objects like a nail, a can, rubber, et cetera and still sharp enough to cut through a tomato effortlessly.
But after they amaze you with its strength and durability, they push you over the edge, in case you’re still on the fence about buying, by giving you incredibly irresistible offers. They ask, “How much would you pay for…” and then they continue by saying “but wait, there’s more” and pile on the incentives for you to take action now.
The incentives include a “six-in-one kitchen tool”, a “spiral slicer” and a set of six “precision steak knives”, claiming it to be the “most incredible knife offer ever!”
By the end of the advertisement you would be thinking “I’d be stupid not to take advantage of this offer”. This technique is so effective that in a span of only six years, they had $50 millions worth of sales. The company was then sold to Warren Buffet.
You too can get incredible results when you find out your prospect’s internal motivation, match it to what you have to offer and then push them over the edge by offering irresistible incentives.