Modern selling uses psychology not manipulation. Understanding what triggers people
to buy makes the difference between a sale and a failure.

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How to win a sale through psychological triggers

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By Joseph Sugarman

Modern selling uses psychology not manipulation. Understanding what triggers people to buy makes the difference between a sale and a failure.

A desire to buy something often involves a subconscious decision. In fact, I claim that 95% of buying decisions are indeed subconscious.

Knowing the subconscious reasons why people buy, and using this information in a fair and constructive way, will trigger greater sales response -- often far beyond what you could imagine.

I recall a time when I applied one of these subconscious devices by changing just one word of an ad, and response doubled. I refer to these subconscious devices as psychological "triggers." A psychological trigger is the strongest motivational factor any salesperson or copywriter can use to evoke a sale.

There are 30 triggers in all -- many of them are very subtle, and many of them are the exact opposite of what you would expect. I will reveal a few of them to you in a moment. Each trigger, when deployed, has the power to increase sales and response beyond what you would normally expect.

There are triggers, for example, that will cause your prospect to feel guilty if they don't purchase your product. Let me give you an example. Whenever you receive in the mail a sales solicitation with free personalized address stickers, you often feel guilty if you use the stickers and don't send something back -- often far in excess of the value of the stickers. Fundraising companies use this method a great deal. You receive 50 cents worth of stickers and send back a $20 bill.

Another example are those surveys that are sent out asking for you to spend about 20 minutes of your time filling them out. Enclosed in the mailing you, might find a dollar bill included to encourage you to feel guilty, and entice you to fill out the survey. And you often spend a lot more than one dollar of your time to do that.

Guilt is a strong motivator. I have to admit that I've used guilt in many selling situations, in mail order ads and on TV -- with great success, I might add.

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I call one of the most powerful triggers a "satisfaction conviction," which is a guarantee of satisfaction. But don't confuse this with the typical trial period you find in mail order, i.e., "If you're not happy within 30 days, you can return your purchase for a full refund." A satisfaction conviction is different. Basically it takes the trial period and adds something that makes it go well beyond the trial period.

For example, if I were offering a subscription, instead of saying, "If at anytime you're not happy with your subscription, we'll refund your unused portion," and instead said, "If at any time you're not happy with your subscription, let us know and we'll refund your entire subscription price -- even if you decide to cancel just before the last issue."

Basically you're saying to your prospect that you are absolutely certain that they'll like the subscription, that you are willing to go beyond what is traditionally offered with other subscriptions. This in fact gives the reader the sense that the company really knows it has a winning product and solidly stands behind the product and your satisfaction.

Is this technique effective? You bet. In many tests, I've doubled response -- sometimes by adding just one sentence that conveys a good satisfaction conviction.

I received an e-mail from a company, a subsidiary of eBay, requesting my advice. They had an e-mail solicitation that wasn't drawing the response that they had expected. What was wrong?

Looking over what they had created, I saw several mistakes, many of which would have been avoided if they knew the psychological triggers that cause people to buy. Let me give you just one example.

In the subject line of most e-mails that have solicited me, I have been able to tell, at a glance, that the solicitation was for a specific service or an offer of something that I was clearly able to determine. Examples such as "Reduce your CD and DVD costs 50%," Or "Lose weight quickly," pretty much told me what they were selling. Was this good or bad?

The problem with those subject lines is that the reader was able to quickly determine: 1) that it was an advertisement; and 2) that it was for some specific product or service.

Most people don't like advertising. And most people won't make the effort to open their e-mail solicitation if they think they are getting an advertising message -- unless they are sincerely interested in buying something that the advertisement offers.

The subject line of an e-mail is similar to the headline of a mail order ad, or the copy on an envelope, or the first few minutes of an infomercial. You've got to grab somebody's attention and then get them to take the next step. In the case of the envelope, you want them to open it. In the case of an infomercial, you want them to keep watching, and in the case of an e-mail, you want them open up the e-mail and read your message.

The key, therefore, is to get a person to want to open your message by putting something into the subject area of your e-mail that does not appear to be an advertising message -- one that would compel them to take the next step. And the best trigger to use for this is the trigger of curiosity.

There are a number of ways you can use curiosity to literally force a person to take the next step. You can then use this valuable tool to put a reader in the correct frame of mind to buy what you have to offer.

Once again, all the psychological triggers apply to every form of communication -- whether it be advertising, marketing or personal selling. And to know these triggers is the key to more effective communication, avoidance of costly errors that waste time and money, and most importantly -- extraordinary sales results.

Joe Sugarman, the best-selling author and top copywriter who has achieved legendary fame in direct marketing, is best known for his highly successful mail-order catalog company, JS&A, and his hit product, BluBlocker Sunglasses. Joe’s new breakthrough book, “Triggers,” reveals 30 powerful psychological triggers that influence people to buy what you're selling.

Click to find more "triggers"->Psychological Triggers


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