There’s an old adage in the sales business that goes something along the lines of ‘if you can convince a surly kid to do something they don’t wanna do with a smile on their face, you’re already a better salesmen than half of Madison Avenue’.
As a parent of a soon-to-be two year old, I am a new convert to using the ol’ switcheroo – reverse psychology.
“You won’t like mommy’s broccoli, it’s for big girls…” I’m telling you, it works every time and studies show this guaranteed sale at the table is also a guaranteed sale in your salon.
Here are 3 ways you can use the subtle dark arts of reverse psychology to maximize your sales:
1. The Ego Prod
Nobody likes to be made to feel like they’re shopping in the discount aisle, or worse still – that they should be. You can take advantage of this by encouraging your staff to prod the egos of your customers, ever so gently, to help up-sell your products.
“Well, this conditioner that we use in the salon ourselves is a bit more expensive but the models we get in here swear by it. It just simply has better results than the lower priced options out there.”
The key themes here are ‘smaller budget’, ‘lower priced’, ‘we use this product’ and the ultimate one – ‘more expensive is good’. Simply telling a customer that they should buy the more expensive product just won’t work, it smells too much like up-selling to be effective. By challenging their ego indirectly and also providing and aspirational example (models, Kim Kardashian, Gisele Bündchen – pick your poison) you spur them into thinking ‘I deserve the better product’ and ‘if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me’.
2. People will fight harder to prevent losing a dollar than they will to earn a dollar
Humans are emotional creatures. You might even say that we can be irrational creatures at times!
The theory of loss aversion is the proof of it. Studies in this field show that the fear of a loss is twice as strong as the thrill of a gain.
Thinking logically, it makes no sense. But think of it this way; how far would you go to get a $5 discount versus avoiding a $5 surcharge? You can use this ‘fear’ to help give your sales a jet boost.
Be sure to tell your customers what they can gain by using your services or products, but don’t forget to let them know what they’ll lose out on if they don’t.
‘This keratin smoothing treatment will be life-changing for you. It will last you between 2 to 3 months, or even long when you are using the keratin shampoo and conditioner at home. It protects the treatment and you’ll get a lot more out of the system.’
3. Honesty builds credibility and trust
There’s a psychological principle known as Inoculation Theory that essentially boils down to strengthening existing beliefs to build trust in you and your business. TRANSLATION: In a practical sense, this is inserting a bit of ‘real’ honesty in your dealings with clients.
Give your clients the raw, honest truth and they’ll be lifelong purchasers.
‘I honestly don’t think that product is going to give you the best results. You’re much better off with using this deep conditioning treatment once a week to keep your hair smooth.’
That little sentence is prime Inoculation Theory in action. The persuasive power of Inoculation Theory was leveraged by weakening the competitors’ position i.e. ‘it’s not valuable’ to lead the customer into the only logical position – your product selection is valuable.
A study by The Hoffield Group showed an increase of +38% (36% success rate compared to rivals boosted to 76% success) in sales when a company began using strategies that had Inoculation Theory at their core.
In conclusion, there’s a fine line between persuasion and manipulation. But, when it comes to getting a sale and influencing customers, the line becomes so thin that it’s almost non-existent. It’s best to go with your gut and tailor your scripts on the floor to individual clients, which is something that comes with nuance and experience. In our world, it always seems to go back to that killer consultation.