3 Ways Behavioral Science Can Increase Your Sales

Education, marketing and economics are just a few of the growing number of disciplines that have realized that the insights derived from behavioral science are just too significant to ignore.  Even the United States Government has recently stated that it will begin using behavioral science to design policies to better serve its citizens.  Yet, nowhere can the research-backed insights from behavioral science make more impact than in selling.

What is behavioral science?  Behavioral science research analyzes human behavior and then creates evidence-based strategies that can explain and even predict how people will behave in certain situations. 

Many businesses have also begun utilizing principles from behavioral science to more effectively navigate the complex world of selling.  These organizations quickly notice an increase in sales effectiveness as they align their sales behaviors with how the brain is wired to perceive and act on information.   

The following are three examples of how businesses can apply behavioral science to drive their sales results.

Should You Present Before Or After A Competitor?

When you are meeting with buyers to deliver a formal presentation and you know a direct competitor will also be presenting, should you go first or last?  

A study conducted by two behavioral scientists analyzed the impact that presentation order had on decision making.  The research found that the order in which sales people presented played a large part in which was chosen. 

Whether you should go first or last depends on one primary factor: The time between the presentations.  If you and a competitor are presenting back to back, you should go first because you will shape the buyer’s perception and create biases that will put your competitor at a disadvantage. 

In contrast, if the time between the presentations is more than a week, you should go last.  This is because the memory of your competitor will fade with the passing of time, while your presentation will be fresh in the prospect’s mind, which will increase the likelihood that you will be chosen.

Will More Product Options Help You Sell More?

There have been numerous research studies focused on analyzing if the number of product options presented would influence buying behavior.  The findings of these studies have shown that too many products can overwhelm the brain and hinder a buying decision.  However, the opposite is true as well.  If only one option is presented, buyers will not feel comfortable making a buying decision.

For instance, one research experiment studied the buying behaviors of consumers who were asked to purchase a DVD player.  When only a single DVD player was shown, 10% purchased.  However, when consumers were shown two DVD players sales skyrocketed, as an impressive 66% purchased. 

When consumers are presented with a single option they do not feel confident in making a positive buying decision and want to look at other options.  Yet, when shown a couple options, consumers instinctively compare the options and select the best.  This comparison reduces the perception of risk and inspires that confidence to make the buying decision.  

Why Do High Pressure Sales Calls Fail?

When you walk past a sign that says, “Don’t Touch, Wet Paint,” what do you want to do?  Instinctively, you want to touch the wet paint.  Why does a sign that tells you not to do something, actually cause you to desire to do it? 

The answer is found in a number of behavioral science studies that identified a powerful scientific principle called reactance.  Reactance is the feelings that occur when people perceive that their ability to freely choose is being restricted.  When this occurs they will desire to rebel against what is being imposed upon them.  This is why signs that say, “No littering” or “Don’t litter” have been shown to actually increase littering.

The research shows that there are ways to decrease reactance.   One example of how to do this is found in a study which identified that when asking for funds, compliance rose by nearly 400% when the request ended with a statement that conveyed the person was “free to accept or to refuse” the appeal.   Some additional phrases that can be used to reduce reactance are:  “of course, it’s up to you” or “this is a great offer that you can participate in, if you choose.”

As you have seen from the three previously cited examples, utilizing the findings of behavioral science will increase sales effectiveness and provide you with an unfair advantage over your competitors.  That’s what makes behavioral science so essential in selling.  It provides evidence-based findings that reveal how to align selling behaviors with your customers’ brains are influenced and create a buying decision.