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10 Lessons from Psychology on Ways on Improving Our Sales Pitch


ocial psychology is the study of group behavior and how people interact with each other. Marketing and sales professionals have been using the findings of this growing field for decades in their advertising campaigns and sales pitches. Here are 10 of the most effective lessons in improving your sales pitch to enhance your sales outcomes.

1. Rephrase your opening pitch and core benefit in form of a question: One of the psychological principles of persuasion is commitment and consistency. This principle is based on the fact that we strive to remain consistent with what we have done or said in the past. According to a research published in 1992 by three psychologists, Fazio, R. H., Blascovich, J., & Driscoll, D. states that once we make a choice or take a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. This psychological principle can be applied in how we open our sales pitch. To do so, develop an opening question that mentions the core benefit of your product or service and grabs the complete attention of your prospect. The opening question should not include the product or the service itself. For example, instead of saying: “I would like to talk to you about our new product xyz that can reduce costs by 20%-30% per year”, start with: “I was wondering if you would be interested in a proven method that could reduce costs by 20%-30% per year?”. Once you here a confirmation, you can then begin with your standard sales pitch. This technique has also been successfully used by a restaurant owner who wanted to reduce the number of no-shows for table reservations which was at 30%. The no-shows were reduced to 10% after changing the request on phone: “Please call if you have to cancel” to “Will you please call if you have to cancel?”

love that you are trying to provoke from your users. There he gave an example of a mountain bike, where he says: “It’s not about the thing..... it’s about the experience of the thing”. Based on this method, when communicating your product or service features and benefits, explain it to them in terms of the positive experiences that they will gain if they apply the benefits of your product/service. This technique can be further reinforced by three commonly used sales techniques: 1. The three-step pitch, 2.Appealng to self-interest, and 3. The power of suggestion and talking past the sale.

3. Loss aversion: People are motivated to buy to either gain something or the fear of losing something. Yet, research has shown that people are more motivated to avoid losses than they are to acquire gains. This was further supported by a notion documented by psychologist and Economics Noble prize laureate Daniel Kahneman called ‘loss aversion’. To apply this principle, your sales pitch should focus on what the audience would lose rather than gain from using the product or service. For example, change your pitch from “If you buy this product, you could save 50 thousand pounds per year” to “If you wish not to adapt this product, you could risk losing 50 thousand pounds every year”. To demonstrate this, researchers at the University of California posed as representatives from a local utility company to two groups of homeowners. In one group, 2. The user experience: they told homeowners that they could save 50 cents a day by carrying out energy efficiency improvements in “Framing a sale in experiential terms is more likely to lead to satisfied their home. The second group was told that they would customers and repeat business” – Dan Pink, To Sell is Human continue to lose 50 cents a day if they did nothing. It Social psychologists categorize what we purchase depending upon our intentions. Our intentions could be material purchases or experiential pur- turns out that the second group was 300% more likely chases. A material purchase is the intention of acquiring and possessing to carry out the improvements compared to the first an object. An experiential purchase is the intention of acquiring an event group. or a series of events that one lives through. However, studies have shown 4. The rejection-then-retreat method: that people gain much greater satisfaction from purchasing experiences than they do from purchasing goods. “We often understand something better when we see Bill Buxton, principle researcher at Microsoft gave a talk about return on it in comparison with something else than we see it in experience at Microsoft’s MIX09 conference. There he mentioned that: isolation” - Dr. Robert Cialdini Industrial designers very often talk about the things but when it’s actually The rejection-then-retreat method also known as doorin-the-face technique, works by offering a large request the experience that is induced by this thing that is the true product of and when rejected, you offer the smaller request. you. It’s not the screen, it’s not the graphics – it’s what they prompt…. Any product, service, online thing or object you make – you have to When doing so the success rate for the smaller request know what is the nature of the grin, or the adrenalin or the smile or the increases dramatically. This is because the smaller


request appears to be a good offer once the large request has been rejected. An example of how this technique has been successfully applied has been documented in the Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: Science and Practice. A salesperson had a 40% success rate when he used to directly offer a regular warranty plan to his prospects. But when he started to offer the most expensive warranty plan first, and when rejected he offered the regular plan, the success rate for regular plan increased to 70%.

emails where the subject line is phrased in a way such that: 1. It directly affected their work. 2. It was specific and straight to the point Example: instead of a subject line as: “Improve your golf swing”, change it to “4 tips to improve your golf swing this afternoon”

5. I Hope I’m Not Disturbing You, Am I? When prospecting for new customers, it is important to ask about their availability and time before making your request. In 2011, researchers published a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology in which they reported: “The results showed that compliance rates were higher when the requester inquired about respondents’ availability and waited for a response than when he pursued his set speech without waiting and inquiring about respondents’ availability.” So next time when calling potential customers, introduce yourself and say something such as: “I need about 2 minutes of your time. Is this a good time to talk?”. It is of no surprise that many telemarketers today are using this technique before introducing their products and services.

9. Negotiating over email versus faceto-face: It is of no doubt that negotiation outcomes are far better when performed face-to-face compared to negotiating over email. Among the main reasons that researchers have found to explain the lower success rate in email negotiations is that it lacked rapport, personalization and exchange of personal information. To improve negotiation outcomes over email, psychologist Michael Morris suggests that the negotiator should spend a little time getting to know each by exchanging personal information prior to negotiation. To demonstrate this, Michael Morris set up two groups 6. Limit the number of choices: of negotiators. The first group was given simple In a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology instructions to negotiate. The second group was told titled: “When choice is demotivating”, a display was set up at a superto spend some time to know each other by providing market so that passersby would sample a variety of jams. They displayed a photograph and a brief biography. As a result, only 29% from the first group agreed on a deal, while the at one time 24 varieties and at another time 6 varieties. Only 3% of who approached the display with 24 varieties bought a jam. In comparison, for second group 94% agreed on exactly the same negotithe 6 variety display, 30% of approached actually bought the jam. That is ation. a tenfold increase in sales! The problem with too many choices, people enter into a state of analysis 10. The luncheon technique: paralysis, a phenomenon described as: A study made in the late 1930s by the distinguished psychologist Gregory Razran on the effect of dining on A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and a person’s opinion. Using what he termed the “lunchange if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal cheon technique,” he found that his subjects become or “perfect” solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could fonder of the people and things they experienced lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution. - Wikipe- while they were eating. He also found that in a typical dia fund-raising dinner the speeches and the appeals for Another problem with many choices is that it decreases customer satfurther contributions and heightened effort never come isfaction with the choices they made. It increases their expectations of before the meal is served, only during or after. the results. They expect it to be perfect, and when it does not, they get His research findings goes contrary to what many disappointed. For this reason, research has shown that customers who businesses do today at product launches, and marare shown limited number of choices reported greater satisfaction. keting-based seminars, shows and events, etc. where meals are served at the end. For maximum impact the talks should be done during or after the meals are 7. Think twice before giving away products that are served. sold separately for free: The luncheon techniques can also be used to improve Often we are tempted to offer bonus gifts as incentives to customers in order win a contract or increase loyalty. These offerings do indeed pronegotiation outcomes during the closing phase with duce results, but when giving away a product for free that is sold sepaa potential prospect by inviting him to discuss your rately has its negative consequences. Consumers will perceive that these product over breakfast. It is during breakfast, that products when sold stand-alone as junk or obsolete. They may even think prospects are less likely to be busy. that the supply has exceeded demand or the company wants to purge excess inventory. As a result, people would no longer perceive the product as valuable after the offer is over. Abdul-Rahman Elshafei is a freelance business skills Social psychologists have found that in order to maintain the value of instructor and course developer. He delivers your product and to ensure that the prospect truly appreciates your offer , customized high-impact workshops where he introducyou will need to restate the value of the bonus/free product in your sales es techniques applying the latest research and pitch. Instead of saying: “Receive a free security program”, say “Receive trends in the field of presentation, management and a $250 security program at no cost to you” sales training that adds value to every participants work experience. His clients include Banque Misr and 8. The email pitch: Raya Corporation. In 2011, 3 Carnegie Mellon university professors conducted a series of studies examining why some subject line are more effective than others. To learn about more than 20 different psychological The study is to find what prompts people to read, reply, forward, delete methods in communicating your sales pitch, contact: emails based on subject line of the email from among a large list of Email: unread emails. The study has found that people were quite likely to open Tel: +2 01099341314