December 9, 2021

3 Winning Sales Tactics That Use Psychology

Written by The Apollo Team

Inside sales teams and individual sales reps are always on the lookout for new sales tactics they can use to execute their sales strategy and increase revenue.

From social selling for sales prospecting to the perfect sales pitch, there are many ways to improve the sales process.

No matter the level of experience of the sales professional, if the tactic is sound, there is a great chance that it will work. 


What are Sales Tactics?

Sales tactics are the techniques that a sales team uses to accomplish its goals. In other words, they are deliberate ways to approach a prospect with your message.

If you search online for winning sales tactics, you’ll probably find generic advice like “listen more than you speak”, “ask questions”, “ask for referrals”, “start a sales conversation online”, “find your ideal customer first”, and “follow up”.

Those are great tactics and you should definitely follow them, but here I’ll describe something different: three of the most effective psychological tactics you can use to increase your sales.

3 Selling Tactics That Work

In the last few decades, psychological research on consumer behavior, buying decisions, and how the brain works has grown dramatically, providing marketers and salespeople with insights and tools for their trade.

As MIT researcher Dan Ariely says, people are predictably irrational — and behavioral science can help us predict them. That’s why understanding the psychology of your potential customers is a must if you want to increase your sales and generate more revenue.

1. Give Buyers Less Options

Have you ever experienced analysis paralysis? That’s when there’s so much information that you feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.

A classic Harvard study in the 1950s (still valid, by the way) showed that the maximum amount of objects a person can hold in their memory is seven, plus or minus two. If you present more than that number (10+ for example), the buyer won’t remember the details of each and won’t make a choice.

A famous example is the jam study, where two groups of people were given jam samples and asked to buy. Out of the group that had 24 choices, only 3% bought jam, but out of the group that had only three choices, 30% made a purchase.

For best results, only offer three or four options to your clients, with different prices that allow you to upsell and make their decision easier (more about pricing later).

Most SaaS companies stick to this number, with the average number of packages they offer at 3.5. With only three or four options, potential customers are able to compare easily and make a quick decision.

Here’s a pretty straightforward example from with three options plus a custom package.

Apollo pricing

Check your sales page and make sure you don’t have too many options that may overwhelm your visitors, stopping you from completing the sale.

2. Bundle Products Together

So, perhaps you have more than four products or services you offer. What can you do? Bundle them together.

Just offer several products for a single price. The key is to add value, with add-ons and features that cannot be bought individually.

This may not be ideal for the potential buyer (because there might be products within the package that she won’t use) but it simplifies the process for you as the sales rep (plus, it brings added revenue).

A great example of this is Microsoft Office 365. See the pricing per bundle below.

Microsoft pricing

Unbundled pricing allows the buyer to pick only what he wants. In this case, the buyer may want to purchase only Word and Excel, but it’s not possible. He must get a bundle with other programs.

When you start bundling, you can sell products that may otherwise not sell as much in a much speedier process. When you sell the same bundle to everyone, your marketing and selling costs are lower.

In psychological terms, the bundling tactic reduces the “pain of buying”. This comes from a study that showed that expensive items activate the part of the brain that processes pain, while reduced pricing activates the part responsible for decision-making. When you bundle products together, buyers can’t see the individual prices, only a “reduced” price, thus avoiding pain.

You can start applying this tactic by offering a few standalone products as a single bundle. For instance, bundle your most popular products with other specialty products and label them with a cool and attractive name.

However, don’t bundle a quality product with a cheap one as it could backfire on you. 

Remember to always add value to your clients.

3. Use the Decoy Effect When Pricing

People usually pick the cheapest product or package presented, even though it may not be the best value.

This next tactic is great for any small business. It involves tricking the brain to choose a particular (often the best value or most expensive) option by introducing a “decoy”.

Dan Ariely discovered this tactic when “The Economist” apparently made a mistake in their pricing page, advertising their online version only for $59, the print version only for $125, and a third option costing $125 for both print and online versions. The second version was useless, since it was priced the same as the third option but had less value.

Ariely took that pricing page and conducted some experiments with his students. He explains the fascinating results in this short video:

You may see the decoy effect every day when you stop by the coffee shop to get a latte. For instance, let’s say prices are presented in this way:

Small — $3.00

Large — $7.00

Here, most people would choose the cheapest option because they perceive the Large one as too expensive. However, when you introduce a decoy, the Medium, things change.

Small — $3.00

Medium — $6.50

Large — $7.00

Now, most people will buy the large coffee because their perception changed, for only 50 cents more than the medium, the large size looks like a bargain.

You can apply this tactic to your pricing easily. Pick a product you want to increase your sales for and then create two more price points applying the decoy effect.

For example, offer the following:

“Intro” package — 100 users for $100/month

“50 Additional Users” add-on — $150/month

“Advanced” package — 200 users for $160/month

Sales Tactics, Not Manipulation

Using neuroscience, you won’t need to use a high pressure sales tactic or any other bad sales tactic to get your potential customer to buy.

The above are powerful psychological tools that can help you take advantage of how the brain works.

Be careful and responsible, though, with how you use them.

The aim is not to manipulate people into buying things they don’t need or spend more on a premium when a cheaper version of the product will suffice. Always add value and create a wonderful experience for your clients.

If you are a sales manager, teach your team how to use effective sales tactics like these throughout the sales cycle. Include neuro-selling in your sales training programs to add to your team’s sales skills.

If you are a sales person, focus on customer success and use these tactics to upsell your products and create customer loyalty. In the end, this will result in more growth for your company than simply pushing sales irresponsibly.

The Apollo Team