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Nostalgia, Exclusivity, Mistakes, & FUD: 4 Psychological Tools Every Sales Rep Should Use

Sales reps now have the means to craft a pitch perfect for each of their prospects, create meaningful relationships quickly, and solve for very specific pain points. However, the way they go about these tasks is often left up to their own personal interpretation.

There are several different angles a rep can play on when it comes to pitching their product.But some have proven to be more effective than others -- at least that’s what science suggests.

If you’re a sales rep looking to take your quota-crushing skills up a notch or two, read on. Incorporating these four psychological levers into sales messaging can make a big difference in how prospects perceive you and your product.

1) Nostalgia

Is #ThrowbackThursday a sales tactic? Before you dismiss it, give it some thought.

Turns out that throwin’ it back might one of the best sales strategies available to reps. Research shows that nostalgia encourages sharing, engagement, and social connectedness. Feeling nostalgic brings people closer together, which is huge in the relationship-based world of sales. When you’re closer with your prospect, the likelihood of a closed deal, referral, or repeat business is higher.

In addition, Robert M. Brecht points out that using nostalgia as a marketing tactic evokes emotions and “more intensive mental images” -- the combination of which boosts the odds of a purchase.

To draw on nostalgia in sales, learn about who the prospect is and where they came from, and then use this information to stir up emotion. Reps who can connect nostalgic feelings to their product or service will sell more, faster.

2) Exclusivity

It’s cool to have something unique and rare -- something that not everybody can get.

For an example of the power of exclusivity to drive action, consider the app “I Am Rich” which sold for $999.99. All it did was display the image of a red gem and a quick mantra. That was it.

Sounds pointless, right? Well, eight people bought it on the day of its release (it was pulled from the App Store the day after). The idea behind the app was that only a few people could afford it, and they would want to show their friends that they bought it. They were rich -- and they had the app to prove it.

Why is exclusivity such a powerful psychological driver? According to Fast Company, possessing something unique boosts a person's self-esteem, the second most important section within Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid.

Telling someone that they have or can get something rare is a powerful tool. If you’re in sales, harness the power of exclusivity to drive action by reminding your prospects that a certain item might not be around forever, or offering to give them a feature that isn’t yet available to all customers.

3) Owning your mistakes

There’s a great scene from The Office when Michael Scott applies for a job at the headquarters of Dunder Mifflin. In the interview, he lists his weaknesses -- except they are all actually strengths.

Truth is, this might not have been the best bet for Michael. A study from Fiona Lee shows that companies that admitted shortcomings or failures actually gained trust from their customers (as long as they showed that they were working to fix the problems).

Admitting mistakes and working towards correcting them is an easy way for a sales rep to gain trust. If a customer is unhappy with a service or support issue, the best bet is to own up and say it was your fault, but that you’re working to get it fixed. This will strengthen your relationship with the client, and lay the groundwork for upsell opportunities down the line.  

4) FUD

Otherwise known as fear, uncertainty, and doubt, FUD can be very effective in the world of sales. According to Robert Rosenthal, drawing upon this psychological level can inspire people to “stop, think, and change their behavior.”

To use FUD in sales, showcase all the positive things that your prospect might miss out on or the negative consequences that might befall the business if they don’t purchase your service. What would happen to their business or day-to-day life? Would they be less effective? Would they lose money? Open the organization up to risk?

In the last few years, sales reps have turned to science to take their strategies up a notch or two. Use these psychological levers to get prospects emotionally invested in your pitch, and watch your sales soar.

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