There’s an important saying in the world of sales, when you understand how humans tend to think – you can do alot to improve customer behaviour and sales.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how you can use psychology to help improve your sales conversions.

The science bit

In science, there are two parts of the brain that are known to play a part in decision making. In reality, these parts come to their final decision in hugely different ways!

The instinctive part

This part of the brain tends to make snap decisions. This is the reason why shops stock nice things like sweets or snacks by the till – or small helpful things that don’t. The instinctive part of the brain will look at these products and make a quick decision to buy.

The reflective part

This section, is slower to come to a decision – reflecting on the pros and cons of a product before coming to a final decision. In the world of psychology, it’s widely known that 90% of decisions are make with the instinctive brain, whilst the remaining 10% is a slower process using the reflective part.

When we use the instinctive brain we think… When we use the reflective brain we think…
Quickly Slowly
Subconsciously More self-aware
With emotion With thought
With ease With effort

Unfortunately, as most of us spend our time using the instinctive part of our brain, we tend to bring all kinds of unconscious biases into our thinking. In essence, there are three separate biases that we tend to bring to every decision we make.

The three biases of thinking

You can start deploying this science by helping your agents think about the biases during training. Once they understand the science, they’ll be able to start applying it to their daily calls.

1. The authority bias

In essence, this is the thought process we take when we follow a charismatic leader. In the world of sales, it’s best described as when a sales person takes ownership of a conversation.

“We tend to trust people in authoritative positions, such as Doctors, Teachers or the Police. We also place more emphasis on the things they say.”

How to use this? Basically, teach your agents to take more ownership over every call. By sounding authoritative and full of information, your agents can gain the trust of your customers – helping them have faith in their competence.

2. The cognitive overload bias

Commitment bias, is the idea that humans like to follow through on the things we say we’re going to do. Once we’ve told someone, we tend to hook ourselves into it. In psychology, this is referred to as the sunk cost bias.

“In one study, when asked to specify their exercise goals and sign a contract to acknowledge their commitment, people were 50% more successful in achieving their fitness goals than those who did not sign a contract.”

How to use this? Try to gain some form of commitment during every call. This helps to hook your customers into a mental contract that they’ll need to do something – whether that be a meeting, signup or commitment to go ahead with a sale.

Applying these biases in daily callcentre life

By thinking about these biases, you can slowly build your agent scripts and coaching to try and shape customer behaviour. Many callcentres already use this science, including big names like Saga and Fidelity. It’s not just sales either, customer service centres can use these techniques to improves things like average call handling times and overall customer experience.

1. Reduce the average call handling time

By changing your initial agent greeting, you can start to build the authority needed to breeze through calls. Some callcentres state that they can improve average durations by as much as 20%.

To start, let’s take a look at a standard opening greeting.

“Hello, my name’s Vicky, how can I help you today?”

[Customer Response]

“That’s great, before I speak to you I need to ask some security questions.”

Unfortunately, this script lacks authority and begins to shift the focus of the call away from what the customer needs. To fix these issues, we changed the greeting slightly.

“Hello, my name’s Vicky, I’m a customer support agent at [Company], can I take your customer number and full name please?”

[Customer Response]

“Thank you, also, to help you with your query, I just need to ask you three security questions.”

In this greeting, the agent tells the customer exactly what their role is and what their expertise within the company might be. They’re also using more direct questioning to obtain the all important data protection information. This also has the dial effect of asking the customer for direct information, rather than leaving the conversation open ended. Helpful signposts also help the customer understand exactly what they’ll need to complete the call on their end.

Another interesting change, is the way the agent is telling the customer that there are three security questions. This again signposts the customer on what’s going to happen next and what to expect. This helps move the call along at a smoother pace.

2. Selling via service

By altering how you present options to your customers, you can help to improve you overall sales conversion rate.

Have a look at this example:

“These are three of the options available for your next plan:

1. You can have a conversation with an advisor to help you find the best plan for you.

2. You can choose a product now and we can help you with any paperwork or documents.

3. You can schedule a meeting with an advisor if now is an inconvenient time for you.”

In this script, we’re using some powerful tools to help boost your sales rate.

1. The power of three

Human beings love to have three options available to them. It’s for this reason this script offers three separate solutions to the next step in their sales journey. The rule of three has been used in countless ways since its discovery, including “Stop, Look & Listen” and also the famous slogan of “Snap, Crackle & Pop” in breakfast cereals.

By splitting options into three, you can help your customer digest the information quickly and come to a faster decision.

2. Ordering by preference

In this script, the options are presented in an order that suits the customer and how the company would rather sales come in. For example, leaving the option for a scheduled meeting to the last helps to minimise leaving customers go without a sale.

3. Conversational English

By using conversational language, rather than business/jargon, you can help conversations sound more natural. This helps customers understand their options faster and make quicker decisions.

Reducing dead air time

Sometimes, your agents will have to spend a few moments finding information. The way your scripts handle this is extremely important.

“I’ll just have a look at the system.”

[Followed by silence]

Unfortunately, this leaves many moments of dead air without telling the customer what’s about to happen.

“If I go quiet for the next few moment, I’m just finding up to date information on your account. Is that okay?”

Once again, good signposting and letting the customer know exactly what’s happening ensures your agent stays in control of the conversation. Sometimes, there’s not much we can do about dead air – yet we can always explain to the client what’s going to happen during that dead air period.

Wrapping up

As most of your customers make decisions by instinct, using unconscious biases to your benefit can have a huge effect on how calls flow. Some callcentres already do this, leading to an increase in sales, average call handling times and improved rapport during every call.

By finding a practical use for psychological principles, you can find another tool to help improve customer conversations.

Call Centre, Telemarketing

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