This is the first entry in a series of posts I’ll be doing about sales psychology. This won’t be a series of consecutive posts but rather a subject that I’ll post about from time to time. In the series, you’ll learn about specific techniques that can be used to increase sales and conversions. Once you’ve read about them, you’ll soon recognize them in many advertising campaigns online and off.
To start off, I want to introduce an easily exploitable psychological bias called the commitment bias.
Since you’re on the Internet, it’s quite likely that you’ve come across the great secret of the Scientology sect. They have this theory about aliens being banned to earth and then nuked and now the alien souls somehow attach themselves to humans and that’s what makes us ill. Something along those lines, anyway. If you want more detail, just Google “what scientology really believes”, there’s lots of info to be found.
The point is that this story with the alien souls and all that is completely over the top and ridiculous. It’s so silly that it begs the question: How can anyone possibly believe something like that?
Well, it’s actually not surprising at all that members of Scientology would believe this. Scientology is a hierarchical organization in which you have to “work your way up” and, more importantly, spend a lot of money if you want to “advance”.
By the time you are “ready” for the “real truth” with the aliens and all that, you’ve likely been a member for years and years, spent a lot of time in the organization, made friends and valuable connections and spent a bucketload of cash on your development.
In other words, you’ve already made a huge commitment to the organization. So huge that it’s easier to believe a completely ridiculous story than it is to admit: “I’ve been wrong all those years and I’ve wasted all that money and effort.”
Something like that can be hard to admit. And the more time, money and effort you invest, the harder it is to admit it. Consequently, you will subconsciously do your best to deny any evidence against the beliefs you’ve committed to.
This is the commitment bias in action.
Okay, as the heading stated, that was an extreme example and you probably aren’t planning to build a cult (though that might be a lucrative business-model), so let’s get this closer to real life.
The commitment bias can be seen in use in many everyday situations, in a much milder way. Quite simply, the marketer wants the prospect to make some kind of a commitment (time, money or effort) towards the product or service he’s selling. This can greatly increase the chances of turning the prospect into a buyer.
Here are some examples:
I’m pretty sure that in your lifetime you’ve made several purchases as a direct result of the commitment bias. And I’m also pretty sure that you were unaware of it. That’s the beauty of good sales psychology: You never realize it’s happening.
Is it wrong to use such techniques to “manipulate” prospects? I don’t think so. Not in and of itself, anyway. You can go too far with manipulation, but if you don’t do any of it, you’ll never make a sale.
In my sales psychology posts, I don’t want to judge whether something is right or wrong. I simply want to show you some neat little tricks so you can be aware of them. As a consumer as well as a marketer.
That’s all for now. More mind-games will be “exposed” (what an over-used word) in future posts.
P.S.: I caught a pretty bad cold and have been a mess for almost a week. That’s why I didn’t post much. In case today’s post seems weird: It’s not my fault, I’m still not fully recovered. ;)
Once I am, I’ll get to work on those reviews again.
I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.
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