You want people to say “yes”.
Your goal for any selling message is literally that simple.
We’re not bullshitting you when we tell you that the entire selling process can be simplified into 6 key triggers.
Here’s a weird example that might surprise you.
A car parts manufacturer mailed out coupons that sliced dollars off of the original amount to try and generate sales. The printer, however, made what seemed like a heavy mistake. Some of the coupons showed the savings but others were misprinted and did not.
Turns out, it made absolutely no difference. Coupons that offered nothing, still managed to generate a response.
Why did this happen?
A coupon usually means savings. Because consumers have learned that association, the coupon itself acts as a trigger to initiate a positive response. Customers often respond automatically to the coupon trigger, not to what’s actually printed on the page.
In sales, it’s all about triggers.
Fact: Influence Triggers Work
Like most other animals, humans can't possibly take the time to think through each and every situation we’re presented with throughout the day. Daily life would be an intense energy drain if every action or reaction required active thought. We have triggers that set off automatic, unthinking actions. Our brains have developed in such a way that we subconsciously identify patterns and react in set sequences of standard, rehearsed behaviours.
If someone says "Hello" to you, chances are you’ll say it back without thinking. When you see a red light at an intersection, you’ll stop your car without questioning the situation. When you hear a group of people around you laughing, you’ll probably crack a smile even if you have no idea what the punchline was.
Sure, human triggers and patterns of response might vary in complexity and predictability. Of course people are more aware than ever of the manipulative nature of sales and marketing. However, it’s entirely possible to discover the most powerful human behavior sequences and find the thing that triggers them.
The 6 Major Influence Triggers
To generate a "yes" response in a variety of outbound marketing situations, you’ll want to pay attention to these triggers:
Paying attention to these simple triggers will give you the “oomph” you need to get your marketing techniques working better for you.
In pretty much every society around the globe, there is an overwhelming urge to repay debts or to do something in return when something is done for us. It’s one of the core urges that forms the foundation of our “human-ness”.
If, for example, you’re planning on hosting a dinner party, chances are you’ll invite the couple next door simply because they invited you to their previous party. You don’t particularly like them. You’d really rather not have them around. But they invited you and that’s all that matters. You feel like you owe them that invite.
Your co-worker filled in for you once. He asks you to cover for him this weekend because he has plans. You automatically agree.
You get a postcard from a person you haven’t seen or spoken to in years. You add them to your holiday mailing list even though you barely know them anymore.
Reciprocity is almost automatic. It’s a powerful urge.
Why does it work like this? It’s simple: reciprocity is a shortcut we’ve developed for making “reasonable” decisions.
To use the Rule of Reciprocity to your benefit, you need to do one thing: give something away. It could be a gift, a free trial, valuable information, assistance, or guidance. In doing so, you’re generating a feeling of indebtedness in the consumer.
Here’s how to go about it:
Be the first to give something away.
No matter how you look at it, the person who gives first is always in control. The person receiving your gift is in your debt. You want to create and maintain this precise situation. Your aim is to a) be seen as generous and b) always be in control.
So, what should you be giving away? Anything that’s related to your brand. You could give away a free eBook, a one-on-one call with an expert in a particular niche, a lower price for a particular product/service, a free trial period… the opportunities are almost endless.
Give something that is CLEARLY for the benefit of the recipient.
People might be predisposed to act on triggers but (and this is key) they are NOT stupid. They will not respond favourably if they suspect they are being manipulated. You absolutely can’t allow your gift giving to look like an obvious ploy. You cannot, whatever you do, demand a favour in return.
The gift you hand out should be exclusively and obviously for the benefit of the recipient. Unconditional giving is the key. Make sure that your gift isn’t self-serving. The recipient should benefit irrespective of whether or not you get anything out of it in the end.
Obviously, you shouldn’t be giving away anything that costs you very much time or money. Re-purposing is key.
Have a whitepaper that’s already been written that you could offer as a freebie? Use it.
Have a valuable dataset you’ve created that could be used? Send it.
Have some nifty tips and tricks you developed for a course? Gift it.
Only give something that is of real value to the recipient.
Remember, the aim of the freebie is not to toot your own horn. Don’t give away something that’s all about you. Nobody wants that shit.
You HAVE TO give away something that is substantial, valuable, and helpful. Your prospect is the main focus here. The more valuable your offer is, the more indebted the recipient will feel. That’s the basic truth of it.
For example, inviting people to a free webinar makes them feel like their important enough for you to spend time on them and their questions. You could be using information you already have to host such an event - there’s everything in it for the attendees and you’re not actively pushing your own agenda.
Put a face on it.
You need to make sure that your gift is coming from a specific person. Whether it’s the CEO of the company or whether it’s your brand manager, people want to see a face. It’s easier to get people to feel indebted to an actual person than it is to convince them they’re indebted to a faceless corporation.
Be real. Be transparent. Be open.
Don’t stop giving.
You’re in it for the long haul. This only works if you create that feeling of debt and maintain it.
Your aim is to be the good guy whose sole interest is keeping those levels of value right up there. The more you’re seen as generous, the better your reputation will be and the more likely people will be to convert into paying customers down the line.
In general, people aim to be consistent in all areas of life. Their words, actions, attitudes, opinions, beliefs, habits, and virtues pretty much cement themselves by the time they reach adulthood. Once any person takes a stand or makes a particular choice, that action sets the tone for all future behaviour.
Once you’ve paid for an 8-week dancing class, you’ll stick it out even if you’ve figured out that you have 2 left feet.
Once you’ve paid for and joined a dieting program, you’ll keep at it even if you don’t show any tangible weight loss.
Once consumers have aligned themselves with a popular brand, they’ll keep paying for it even if it’s more expensive.
Consistency is yet another shortcut for making decisions. It’s an auto-response that prevents you from having to think about every tiny little action you take. If you make up your mind about something once, why should you have to think about it over and over again?
To get this trigger to work for you, you need to follow a few simple suggestions:
Start small and build on it.
You need to get your foot in the door. Ask your prospect to agree to a simple request or minor transaction. Perhaps get them to agree to complete a questionnaire or answer questions in a survey. Request some information. Get them to sample a product. Anything small and simple. By getting your prospect to make a decision you forge a new psychological commitment.
Once you have created a foundation for even the smallest commitment, you will have managed to trigger the Rule of Consistency. Since the rule states that people strive to be consistent, you can build on this make additional requests (though try not to come across as needy). Accepting a free sample might lead to a small transaction. That small transaction could lead to a larger transaction, and so on and so forth.
Build on current commitments.
While you’re working on establishing new commitments, you’ll also want to build on commitments your prospects have already agreed to. Use your sales message to build on existing commitments. This will guarantee that you continue to invoke the Rule of Consistency.
Make sure that you get people to take a stand on what they have said they agree with. It’s a great idea to align your product with your prospect's current sense of consistency. Remind them of what they’ve told you their needs/wants are.
Keep prospects and customers involved.
Action, rather than passive thought, is the key to effective commitments.
Get your prospects to say what they think or feel out loud. Don’t over-complicate requests by making them too difficult. Just require some simple, yet active, involvement. This will create pressure to adjust their self-image to match the requested action. At the same time, this will creates social pressure to adjust behaviours and images to how others view the prospect.
We tend to look to others to help us decide how to act. We need social pressures to guide our behaviours and to determine whether something is right or wrong.
We do this all the time. When we’re driving, when we’re at the office, when we’re at parties. Our actions are measured by the way others behave around us. We adjust our attitudes and approaches depending on the our peers behave.
People are driven to conform. This shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing. Especially in terms of marketing, you can use this to your advantage.
This is logically adaptive behavior - it's mathematically sound. The more people do something, the more likely it is to be correct — or at least appropriate. Understanding this rule means you can trigger it to generate a "yes" response in your prospects.
How to Put Social Proof to Work
Generally speaking, people imitate the actions of those around them. Get them to see that “everyone is doing it” or “everyone approves of it” and you’ll be able to make social proof work for you.
Here’s what you can do to make social proof work for you:
List positive testimonials and reviews - pay special attention to testimonials of customers who have been converted from another company to yours.
Feature pictures of people actively using your product or service.
Share case studies of some of your most successful projects - facts and figures are a fantastic boost.
Find ways to mention how long your company has been in business. In this case, age isn’t just a number.
Show off a little about the number of products you’ve sold or customers you’ve onboarded.
Create a sense of urgency by warning customers about a limited number of products or client slots available.
Mention that your product or service is a best-seller. Back up your claim with facts.
Generate a buzz around the seasonal demand of your product or service.
Find ways to get famous/important people to use your product.
Get your services or products rated by an authority, and display their “seal of approval”.
Share mentions of your company in the media.
When someone "appears" to be authoritative, we act as if they are, regardless of their actual position.
What kind of symbols do we look for in evaluating authority? Here are three of the most basic:
Titles: such as Dr., Professor, Ph.D., President, or Chairman
Clothing: such as hospital whites, army greens, priestly black, police blues, or even a gray business suit
Trappings: anything that usually goes along with particular positions, such as guns and badges for security personnel, prestigious letterhead for executives, expensive cars or watches for successful entrepreneurs, etc.