“I know when my colleague booked this appointment they said we would have a detailed discussion today, but I have gone and double booked myself and have another meeting straight after you, so I will have to be brief.”
Having such an overloaded work diary will make the customer think that you are very busy, that they are not the only customer and that they may miss out on something if they don’t convince you to stay longer. It also takes the control away from them and brings it to you. It is they who have to warm you into blowing off your other appointment favouring them. Of course, handled badly, and this could come off to the customer as if they are not important to you which could cause offense, so you need care in the delivery.
Back to the TV shop analogy you could walk up to the prospect and say “I can see you are interested in this TV, and I can’t blame you. But I have one left in stock, and quite frankly I just promised another chap that if he comes back in the next 15 minutes with the cash, I will hold it for him.”
Again, you are putting a timeframe on the sale and the discussion you are adding the fear that they may lose out on something to somebody else, so you are adding in the psychological trap of scarcity, and you are not trying to sell to them.
The purpose of this technique is to open the conversation without it being obvious you are opening to sell. It also puts the buyer in the driving seat of now wanting something they think they cannot have, and they will push you to sell it to them. You can then maneuver the conversation the way you want by either agreeing to sell that product or by showing them an “even better deal” that the other guy never even knew about for just a fraction more.
The point is not whether it is true or not because you may well have promised the last product to a previous customer, and you may very well have double booked on appointments. The point is that you are putting a time constraint on the conversation, and this shows a lack of desperation on your part but also immediately opens the conversation up and avoids any blockades or conversation blockers.
The pop psychology
The beautiful aspect of this technique is that it puts you in control and plays a nice psychological trick on the prospect. You remove the upper hand, bring down the barrier to the conversation and make the prospect think that they might miss out on something to someone else. The law of scarcity is one that sits in our subconscious. We always want what we can’t have. None of us likes to be told we can’t have something whether we want it or not as we like to feel we can make the decision for ourselves; we are in control, and nothing puts the desperation on more to have it if we think we can’t but somebody else can.
This technique reverts us back to our childhood where far too often we were told we couldn’t have a particular toy and how unfair we thought it was that we couldn’t have it but our best friend could. As adults, we like to feel we are in control of what we can and can’t have, even if in this instance, it’s the salesperson in control we like to feel it is us.
This technique is also nice because it plays into the psychological trap of reciprocity which dates back to tribal times when doing things in exchange for food or other resources meant life or death. The salesperson is doing you a favour telling you about the secret deal, that the other guy does know about we feel we owe it to him to buy the bigger more expensive TV.
The actual details of the time constraint and reciprocation mentioned above are not important, but the principle is. The point is that when approaching or dealing with new customers and prospects if you understand some very simple principles of psychology then you can break down barriers.
You can apply these principles to bringing about social change. When we are networking, trying to engage others in conversation about our cause and trying to get them on the side. You may scream “isn’t it a bit manipulative?” and the answer is “yes” but get over it. We all manipulate each other every day and do you want to get that cash for your baby seal project or not.
From a consumers point of view
As customers, if we are aware that these types of techniques used, and this is by no means an original idea, then we can at least be on our guard against it. While we might not want to be rude, we can at least stop and ask ourselves “are the persuasion tools of time constraint, scarcity, and reciprocity being used against me here?” We can then decide whether or not we wish to go along with it.
It's also worth considering, as a consumer, that if we realise that these techniques used on us we may be able to reverse them on the salesperson and use them to our advantage to get discounts and so forth.
With all the sales and marketing techniques in this book, it is worth considering how you could reverse the psychological principles to get what you want from the exchange.
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