How Science Can Help You Sell More

How can you increase your sales?  This is where behavioral science – the study of how the human brain makes choices and which factors influence what we say, how we act, and what we decide to buy  – can help.  Here’s three science-backed principles that will increase your sales success.

Principle #1:  Focus On Losses, Not Gains

Behavioral economists assert that one of the most potent motivators of human behavior is fear of loss.  In fact, researchers have shown that people are far more motivated to not lose something than to gain something of equal value at a ratio of 2:1.     

So how can you leverage fear of loss in your favor?  One way is to clearly communicate to your potential customers they will lose if they don’t invest in your product or service.  Too often, sales presentations only focus on gains.   Sharing the beneficial outcomes your product or service will deliver is important, there is a mountain of research suggesting that articulating potential losses can sometimes be an even more powerful motivator.

Principle #2:  Show What Others Have Done

Think of the last performance you saw that ended with a standing ovation. As more people around you join in, do you feel the urge to get up and start clapping too? If you are like most people, you’ll likely find yourself rising to your feet, even though you hadn’t planned to do so. Why does it feel so difficult to resist that urge?

It’s largely thanks to the well-known principle of social norms. These standards or expectations of behavior are highly influential.  As a result, when you show others how most people in their particular situation act, they will usually follow. This can be as simple as stating phrases such as, “Many people in your situation…” or “Our most popular option is…”  Also, share surveys, stories, and data that indicate what a lot of people are doing, and you’ll probably find that others will see whatever it is that your company is recommending in a more favorable light.

Principle #3:  Never Label Something As “Free”

To gain new customers, you may allow potential customers to your product or service for a short period of time, before they are asked to buy it.  So how can you present this offer in a way that will nudge prospects to say “yes”?   Don’t tell them “it’s free.”  Behavioral scientists have found that labeling something as free diminishes its perceived value. Instead, state the monetary worth of what you’re offering and only then give it at no cost.

Ultimately, people will only want to buy things they see as valuable.  For instance, if you want prospective customers to try a subscription to your product inform them that you are so confident that they will love it that you will offer them “three months, which is valued at $120, at no cost.”  This way, the perception of value is $120, whereas, if the request is framed as a “free three-month subscription,” then the value assigned drops to nothing.  The more value you can infuse into your offer, the more likely your request will be met with acceptance.

I encourage you to review and apply the three principles I have shared because when you do it will provide the clarity and knowledge you need to better navigate the challenges of the marketplace.