Corporate buyers often use checklists and other policy guidelines to ensure purchases are not unduly influenced. But they’re still people. And in reality, they are often influenced in their buying decisions, in ways large and small. It’s human nature.
Robert Cialdini is a behavioral scientist and an expert on the subject of influence. He has conducted extensive research about buyer behavior and written a book that’s still a best-seller to this day called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
You might think there are dozens of ways we are persuaded to buy things. But Cialdini discovered they could all be narrowed down to seven principal techniques of persuasion. All the rest are just variations on these seven themes.
These seven methods of persuasion include:
- Social Proof
- Commitment and Consistency
You can use these methods in your B2B copywriting to make a stronger case for your client’s customers to make a purchasing decision.
For this article, I’ve picked what I feel are the top four psychological inducement principles appropriate for B2B buyer influence and how to use them to create better sales results:
1. Liking and the “Halo Effect”
Potential customers are more likely to buy from your client if they like their salesperson, your client’s company, or their products. This is called the “halo effect.”
- Example 1: Say your client is a SaaS company. During a Zoom presentation, their salesperson notices a college diploma on the wall behind his potential customer’s desk. He exclaims, “Is that your diploma from ASU? It looks like we both graduated from the same college! I loved Arizona State!” This statement makes her feel like they have something in common. So she’ll like the salesperson more, which increases the likelihood of her buying software from your client.
- Example 2: Research in Canada has shown that attractive candidates in an election received more than two-and-a-half times as many votes as unattractive ones.
How to Use This:
- Emphasize what your client’s products (or product benefits) have in common with their potential customers in your sales copy.
- Show empathy for their difficulties or situations.
- Compliments can go a long way, such as congratulating a potential buyer for being able to appreciate the complex features in your client’s product.
- Use the “halo effect” effectively: enhance your attractiveness in your next client’s Zoom interview by wearing your “Sunday best” (nice shirt or dress) and combing your hair! You’ll get more respect if you dress well.
2. Social Proof
The concept is that our client’s customers are more likely to say “yes” to a proposal, recommendation, or purchase if they see other customers like them also saying “yes.” (This is why case studies are so powerful as a marketing tool.)
- Example 1: Salesforce, a large CRM software, is usually in the upper right quadrant of the Gartner Group’s magic quadrant assessment, meaning they’re an industry leader, according to the Gartner Group’s expert analysis and user reviews. They often use this positioning to help their prospects make decisions about investing with them by sharing other companies who use their services and rate them highly.
- Example 2: Dotty in accounting at Bali Corp. is on the fence about buying a new software program called Spreadsoft for Business. During a lunch meeting with the local accountants association, her buddy Pete tells her his company just switched to Spreadsoft from FreshBooks, and they like the new program much better. This experience makes it okay for Dotty to make the call to purchase the new program.
How to Use This:
- In sales copy, cite the number of other companies that have bought your client’s product (“used and enjoyed by over 2,000 accounting professionals across the country!”).
- Use testimonials liberally in your sales materials (including the customer’s picture, company name, and personal name if possible).
- Examine your client’s online product reviews, and make sure your client follows up right away with the customer when a less-than-positive review shows up. Of course, having negative social proof will create the opposite effect of what you want for your clients!
The benefits of a product or service are more believable if presented by an authority figure.
- Example: The spokesperson on the TV commercial for the latest prescription drug made by your client to help diabetics is wearing a white lab coat with a stethoscope around her neck. Consumers trust doctors, especially in uniform. So they believe what she says about the new drug and later ask their doctor about it.
How to Use This:
- Find an actual authority on your B2B client’s subject (scientist, researcher, or another expert) to quote from. Or have him speak directly to your client’s audience in your sales video.
- Using statistics to back up your product claims goes a long way in building up your client’s brand authority. Here’s an example: “87% of our client’s end users report increased productivity across all shifts after using our product.”
- From an SEO standpoint, having lots of well-written, in-depth content articles or blogs on your client’s website will increase the trust and authority in their company and boost their website’s search rankings.
People have a stronger desire for items they can’t quickly get because of the product or service’s natural or perceived scarcity. This is related to FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out.
- Example: Your client makes pallet jacks for warehouses. But due to supply chain issues and chip shortages (yes, pallet jacks now use computer chips too!), they can’t produce more stock and only have 200 left for sale. Word gets around to warehouse managers, and all 200 units sell in two weeks… for a 10% premium price!
How to Use This:
- In sales copy, incorporate messages such as, “There are only 150 spots available for this webinar, so be sure to reserve yours today!”
- Or emphasize the number of items available: “Only 1,000 of these unique widgets were made, and they aren’t making any more!”
- If your client had a popular item that was discontinued, consider a marketing promotion to bring it back with a “limited time offer.”
As you can imagine, these tools of persuasion can be used in ethical ways — or not!
Of course, you can use these four methods of persuasion ethically for your client’s marketing campaigns. Used effectively, you’ll create more substantial copy and content that is sure to bring in more business for the B2B organizations you help.