Understanding the Psychology of Sales and Why People Buy Can Be Your Unfair Advantage.

Simply put, understanding the psychology of sales can lead you to learn how to master the art of selling.

Let me point out one important fact — We are all human beings, and our minds function in a similar way.

What triggers me will likely trigger you, and so forth.

Most of our decisions are not completely rational. We don’t have that much time to consider every aspect of information, so we leave this hard work to our subconscious mind to process it.

On one hand, you might be born talented and use these techniques naturally in order to move people in your direction.

And on the other hand, to be a successful communicator, you might need knowledge of science that will show you what lies beneath the decisions people make.

Knowing the psychology of sales and these triggers will help you master the art of selling this 2021.

I will show you how to understand and implement this psychology of sales science into your email communication.

1 Persuasion Not Manipulation

Psychology of Sales and How to Master the Art of Selling

Before we start, let’s make one essential distinction.

Using the psychology of sales as manipulation won’t bring you any good.

You might succeed at first, but people will soon find out that they are being deceived and provided with false information.

We all strive for honesty and value. Those should be your communication bases. Click To Tweet

To persuade is to inform and educate.

And you do that by pointing out something that moves people in directions that are good and beneficial to them.

2 Similarities Bring Us Together

Psychology of Sales and How to Master the Art of Selling

A study about the psychology of sales shows that we are more likely to connect with a stranger who shares some similarities with us rather than with someone who doesn’t.

We like the people who are like us, even if those characteristics are incidental, and we more often say yes to them.

Psychologist Jerry Burger and his colleagues conducted research about the effect of incidental similarity on compliance to a request.

They showed how incidental similarities, for example, having the same name or birthday, can lead to a positive effect.

In these experiments, participants were also more likely to agree to a request from participants who shared similar personality traits with this person than the ones who didn’t.

In other studies, they found that even sitting in the same room with the requester or sharing a conversation can change how we respond to their request.

Investigators conclude that these “manipulations resulted in short-lived feelings of attraction, which caused participants to mindlessly respond to the requesters as if they were dealing with friends.”

How to Implement It into an Email

Research your leads. In the psychology of sales, the more you know about them, the easier it will be to connect with them. You are maybe fans of the same sports club, you like the same music, or you are both environmental activists.

Point out some of the similarities to start a conversation.

This can be very helpful if you are reaching out to them for the first time.

Check out this amazing cold email that Dave Daily sent to Noah Kagan, and got to meet him.

He even mentioned that they wear the same size shoes.

Subject: How I lost your Sperry’s.. and apt. And why you should meet with me.

I kept bidding them up.. to $600.

Then I stopped with 3 seconds left, and the other person won. I didn’t want the apartment.

I was going to use it as an expensive excuse to get an App idea in front of you…and we wear the same size shoes.

I have since bought a pair of Sperry’s..er Sperry? Size 11 – they fit!

Another thing that could be very useful is to try to connect to your leads in person.

Meet them at conferences, exchange ideas, and later make sure you mention that in your email when you reach out to them.

3 Mutual Exchange

Psychology of Sales and How to Master the Art of Selling

Reciprocity is one of the 6 principles of influence that Robert Cialdini, professor of psychology and marketing, explains in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

People will be more willing to say yes if you have given them something that benefits them, something that will help them be better at what they do.

If you help them or give them positive experiences, they will feel obligated to return the favor.

If you offer them something free they will later more likely choose to buy your product.

How to Implement It into an Email

Offer your customers help and guidance when they start using your product.

Provide content that will help them achieve their goals.

Teach them what you know.

Segment your prospects and send them emails that will help them stay on track with the necessary knowledge.

And in the end, you can also offer them a free trial or free usage for one part of your product or service.

If they don’t have money to invest in it now, they will remember you when the time comes.

4 In Search of Social Proof

Psychology of Sales and How to Master the Art of Selling

Another principle of influence that Robert Cialdini mentions is called Social Proof.

His research shows that when people are uncertain, they will more likely do what others are doing.

People want to rely on decisions that others, similar to them, are making. Click To Tweet

If people you like and trust are using some product or service, it will be easier for you to make the same decision.

How to Implement It into an Email

Make sure you mention the companies or people that are using your product or service. Point out how you’ve helped them grow.

Use positive feedback from customers and companies on your website.

You can implement this into an email in a way that will be relevant to your recipient.

5 Positive Labels

Psychology of Sales and How to Master the Art of Selling

We want to be perceived in the best way and what others think of us plays a big role.

Positive labels are not just compliments — they are something that is important to us, encourage us, and we want to nurture them.

When you assign someone a positive label, like having high intelligence or being a good person, that actually cues them up to live up to that label.” — Vanessa Van Edwards

How to Implement It into an Email

When you are talking to your leads or prospects, appoint them genuinely positive labels.

Fake labels have no power. Be honest.

You can tell them:

  • “You are a pleasure to work with.”
  • “You are our most valuable client.”

6 To Commit or Not to Commit?

Psychology of Sales and How to Master the Art of Selling

That is the question.

Robert Cialdini states that if we say yes, we will be committed to following through with our previous statements.

There were studies conducted with voters who committed to vote on elections in a phone survey.

Potential voters, who received the phone call and said they would vote on the upcoming elections, later voted significantly more often than the ones that didn’t receive the phone call.

How to Implement It into an Email

If your clients said yes to your proposal once and then somehow disappeared, make sure you follow up. They were probably distracted with other work and didn’t have time to proceed with your offer.

Have this principle in mind and be persistent. Their disappearance should not discourage you.

As Christoph Engelhardt says in his book SaaS Email Marketing Handbook, you should follow up until you get another yes or no.

“Most of the people will be excited that you follow up.”

Check out his follow-up email correspondence. This is his 6th follow-up. He also added a bit of humor.

Hi Patrick,

Did you trip and aren’t able to get up?

Do you want me to call 911?

I’m getting a bit worried over here since you didn’t reply to my previous emails.

This is what his recipient replied:

Hey, Christoph, completely my fault, and thank you for staying on top of me.

I fell behind on a few things with a recent job transition. I scheduled a time for Tuesday.

7 Relying on Authority

To be sure that we are making the right decision, we want to know what the experts are saying.

We need the proof for products or services we are considering.

To even start a business relationship with someone, we want to know if they collaborated in the past with people or companies that we or others look up to.

How to Implement It into an Email

If you want to pitch someone for the first time, prove to them why you are valuable.

Mentioning your past achievements and pointing out relevant companies you worked with will make you stand out.

If one authority company or person can guarantee your skills, you can later aim even higher.

Check out how he pointed out his collaboration with KISSmetrics along with other valuable content.

KISSmetrics is a great blog, a great authority to rely on, but it is also very relevant to HubSpot.

I work with companies like KISSmetrics and make weekly videos for their blog.

8 When Things Are Scarce

Psychology of Sales and How to Master the Art of Selling

Another one of Cialdini’s principles of influence is Scarcity.

He says that when things are less available, they are more valuable.

In this psychology of sales, products or services can be limited in number or available for a limited amount of time.

These kinds of campaigns influence our brains to make instant decisions, so we buy because we are afraid of missing out on an opportunity and not because we really need something.

How to Implement It into an Email

Inform your customers how rare and uncommon the features of your product or service are.

Offer special features that they will be getting once they become your users.

Make a time-limited email campaign to offer an upgrade for your users for a lower price.

Or make special discounts for a limited number of users.

Check out this email that I received from Hootsuite.

This is how they used scarcity to upgrade new users:

Subject: Give us 60 days. We’ll make you amazing at social media.

To prove it, we’re giving you 60 days to try Hootsuite Professional, absolutely FREE.

The only catch? This offer expires in three days.

So click the button below and start your free 60-day trial now!

9 Avoiding a Loss Instead of Gaining Benefits

Psychology of Sales and How to Master the Art of Selling

Kahneman and Tversky, in their Prospect Theory, pointed out that losses are more powerful than gains. In other words, people are more likely to avoid losses than they are to gain benefits.

Even when the losses and gains are equal, we are more motivated to consider the potential loss than a potential gain.

This kind of irrational decision-making was also proven by Laurie Santos in her monkeynomics experiments, where she showed that primates make the same silly decisions as we do when it comes to choosing between loss or gain.

Cialdini, in his book Influence: Science and Practice, talks about one experiment in which two different approaches were made to similar customers.

Changing what they were told from “If you insulate your home, you will save X cents per day.” to a sentence that implies the loss “If you fail to insulate your home, you will lose X cents per day.” made a big difference.

How to Implement It into an Email

Send an email with an offer to customers that are using free or basic service to upgrade to a pro version for two weeks.

Show them all the benefits they can get, and later when that period expires, they will be more likely to continue using it as a paying customer.

The other thing you can do is change the way you are presenting your products or services.

Try a different approach that states that they will lose something beneficial. For example:

  • “If you sign up to the basic version, you will miss out X benefits that a pro version can provide you.”

And instead of saying how much money they will save by paying annually, try this:

  • “If you pay monthly, you will lose X in a year.”


Now, as you know what influences people to make their decisions, you can try conducting an experiment that’s anchored on the psychology of sales on yourself.

We make so many impulsive decisions every day. Before deciding, try to ask yourself why. Click To Tweet

Knowing what lies beneath your decisions and leads you in a certain direction will help you understand others as well.

It will take some time and practice to master these techniques through the psychology of sales, but after a while, you will find yourself doing it naturally.

Tell me, have you ever thought about the psychology of sales triggers, and are you already using them? I would love to hear your opinion.

Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!

We have over 60,000 monthly readers that would love to see it! Contact us and let's discuss your ideas!

Nina Cvijovic
About Author: Nina Cvijovic
Nina is a researcher and writer at Etools – a toolkit that lets you find the exact contact details of any business.