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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Use Consumer Psychology to Help Reel In More of Your Ideal Prospects

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You can make the best and the most spectacular recommendations to your prospects, but what use is it if the prospect doesn’t share your point of view?

In B2B sales, you’ve probably spent a lot of resources to score an appointment. You’ve generated leads, qualified them, answered initial questions. And you don’t want to lose your ideal prospects now. Consumer psychology can help you reel the prospect in to sign on that dotted line.

Understanding how the human mind operates is a key strategy you need in order to convert your prospects into success stories. It is a powerful, game-changing element that many people forget to factor in.

Here are a few tips to use consumer psychology to score wins in your sales process.

1. Sync-in with the prospect’s self-concept.

Every product or service that you’re selling has to be customized to the prospect. This is why The Center for Sales Strategy emphasizes the importance of the Needs Analysis. You have to present your services in a way that the prospect feels is perfectly suited for his or her needs. And to do this, you need to understand how the prospect sees himself or herself.

Everyone perceives self in a particular and a consistent way. For example, a prospect might not imagine seeing herself driving a red car—maybe it’s too flashy for her. Maybe she’s more of an adventurous type that pictures herself driving a Land Rover. What you have to say or offer needs to resonate with the self-concept of your customer. Putting this into a B2B context, you’re looking for a subtleties of how prospects envision themselves in their job. How do they view their role? What is their personality? What are their goals? What do they hope to achieve in their careers?

Here are ways you can dissociate with your customer’s self-concept:

  • By not tailoring your marketing message to their needs and wants.
  • By not showing them the bigger picture of how the product or service package can change their lives.
  • By ignoring their questions, doubts, and complaints.
  • Most importantly, by not taking an effort to delve into the consumer psyche at all.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Always be about the prospect, and display true care and respect for each of them.
  • Use analytics to look at their past behaviour, and derive patterns that can tell you what your prospect want, and address those needs in your message.
  • When a prospect meets with you, don’t throw everything you’ve got at them. Instead, seek to understand what the problem is they’re trying to solve. Dig in to the details to make sure you fully understand.This way, when you pitch you pitch the best fit product or service package that resonates with their self-concept and what they desire.
  • Market segmentation is another great way to understand your prospects’ self-concept. Go beyond demographics to segment by psychographics as well — again, going back to their dreams, goals, and desires.

2. Don’t underestimate buyer’s remorse.

Remorse is a powerful emotion, and definitely not a good thing for salespeople.

Post-purchase cognitive dissonance, or buyer’s remorse, is the feeling new clients get when they question if they have made a good purchase decision. You want to alleviate any potential concerns before they arise.

For example, at Hiver, even before the initial purchase, we organize a sit down with our new client and take the time to explain exactly how our product can help them. We believe that customers are more satisfied with their decision when they believe it is an informed decision. This practice has reduced the average time we spend on solving customer problems, and the repeat purchase rate has doubled.

Buyer’s remorse not only damages your sales right now, but it can have a long-term effect on your clients’ minds, by prompting them to be overly cautious upon renewal.

Here’s what you can do before and after a sale, to kick away the buyer’s remorse:

Before

  • Appeal to their rational thinking. Instead of simply saying your product or service is awesome, help them understand how that awesomeness can solve their problems.
  • Be honest. If, from the Needs Analysis you understand that you truly can’t help them, then be honest about it. This way, even if you don’t make a sale, you keep the trust intact (who knows, you may even get referred to another prospect!)

After

  • Send them reports on how your product or service is performing for other clients. Case studies are a powerful tool both before and after purchase. People want to be confident that that they made the right choice, and seeing how what they purchased is performing for others like them is reassuring.
  • Send them positive reviews you’ve received from your other customers. The other day I bought a pair of trousers—and a day after, I received a mail from the company saying that their customers are going crazy about this particular product and congratulated me for getting my hands on it early. I knew it was a marketing tactic, but was I pleased? You bet!

3. Prospects see what they want to see—selective perception.

People see what they want to see in media messages and conveniently ignore what they don’t want to see. This is called selective perception, and we are all guilty of it.

Here is an example. You are addicted to caffeine: it starts, runs, and ends your day. On your Facebook feed, you see a post titled “The Benefits of Caffeine”. Your brain chooses to read that title and further validate your caffeine addictions. But when you encounter another headline warning against potential ill-effects of too much caffeine, your brain tends to minimize it.

So, what if your product or service is in the category of things your prospects generally ignore? If the problem is uncomfortable to think about, it might be. You must find a way to circumvent your prospects’ internal filters. If one angle of marketing doesn’t work, come up with a new angle. Trust me, the key is the way you tailor your marketing and sales messages.

Here are some tips that can help:

Use feedback from your previous clients.
  • Look for patterns in complaints and questions they pose.
  • Observe the nuances of communities they are most active in.
  • Use market segmentation to get a better idea about a segment’s general psychology.
  • After segmenting, conduct surveys and perform data analysis to gain a more in-depth idea about your prospects.

4. Combat the problem of too many choices.

Isn’t it great that we have a number of choices to pick from for any product and service out there? Logically, yes. In reality, no.

We assume that it is great to have a number of options, but psychologically it’s not a good thing. Too many choices will overwhelm your prospects, and when they are overwhelmed, they tend to not make a choice at all.

Here is an HBR study that explains this concept well. This study says that as the variety of snacks, drinks, and food items go up on the menu, the customer purchase volume and satisfaction seem to decrease. Studies say that excessive choices can lead to an effect called the “Choice Paralysis” where, not knowing which one to choose, the consumer totally shuts down.

Here are few tips to counteract this:

  • Don’t give your customers too many choices. When you offer them too many options or too many versions of one service package, it’s like you are trying to have a foot in every door, and this usually fails. Instead, do your research and zero in on three variations of service package that allows them to choose but limits the number of choices.
  • When the prospect is still considering other companies’ solutions, you can reduce the size of their consideration set by differentiating yourself. Being a clear winner in your market automatically fades out the other options in your prospect’s mind.

Consumer psychology is a powerful tool that you can use to assist your sales process. Michael Fishman, an expert on consumer behaviour, said, “This is not about taking advantage of people. This is about bringing products and activities to people’s attention in a way that’s helpful. It’s kind of like in the James Bond movies. You can either use this stuff for good or for evil. We’re committed to using this stuff for good.”


Niraj Rout is the founder of Hiver (formerly GrexIt), an app that allows users to share Gmail labels with other Gmail users. Niraj works on programming, customer support and sales, and also contributes to design and UI. He’s a fusion music aficionado, loves to play the guitar when he can.

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Topics: salespeople sales process