Sales, Marketing and Psychology

By Craig Lowe


Consider the following descriptions of two different people with specific personality traits. What do you think of Alan and Ben?

Alan: intelligent-industrious-impulsive-critical-stubborn-envious

Ben: envious-stubborn-critical-impulsive-industrious-intelligent

If you felt that Alan is more able and has a more desirable personality than Ben, then your response to this classic psychological experiment was typical. The words intelligent & industrious are very positive traits and reading those words influenced you to view impulsive & critical as more positive than you would have otherwise. This tilted your perception of Alan to be favorable. When the identical set of words are reversed, your initial exposure to the highly negative traits envious and stubborn influences you to view the traits critical & impulsive as also highly negative, and you perceive Ben to have an undesirable personality. What is interesting is that your mind does this automatically. It’s not a conscious process. Of course, if you think about it for awhile you can reverse your perceptions, but it takes effort to do so. The fact that the same material presented in different ways can be perceived completely differently is fundamental to industries such as sales and marketing.

This experiment also highlights that first impressions matter immensely. According to Psychologists we are more influenced by people we like and people we find attractive, than people we don’t like. This is why marketers use celebrity endorsement, and the reason the modeling industry exists. We are also heavily influenced by authority – a good example of this is when Doctors put there degrees and certificates on the wall behind their desks – we put more trust into what they tell us when we see this. This also suggests that business people are well advised to wear a tidy suit and tie – on average, a tidy and authoritive dresser will be slightly more persuasive than a sloppy, unkempt dresser. That’s not to say perceptions cannot be overcome by a brilliant but unkempt professional, but it’s about increasing the odds of being persuasive, through subconscious cues that people are often unaware of in themselves.

If you are running an open home to sell your home, how long should you keep it open for? Most people assume longer is better because they might get a few extra inspections. Experienced salespeople know that shorter open homes are actually more effective. A short open home means the buyers become more concentrated. When they see lots of other interested parties, their own interest becomes stronger. In contrast, turning up at an open home where there is no-one around – like during a very long open home – is harmful to how your home will be perceived. There are two powerful reasons for this: we value scarce resources and we are influenced by the consensus of others – known as social proof. The view of Psychologists is that we have developed these subconscious instincts as shortcuts to help us navigate the world without too much effort. In other words, these are good instincts. For example if you purchase a house that is undesirable and in great supply, you might get stuck with it and you could lose money.

This is a very basic example of how these principles work in a real estate context. The important point is that if selling was as easy as presenting your product or service in any manner, there would be no advertising or marketing businesses and there would be no skilled salespeople. But this is not the case. Well written advertisements generate more enquiry than poor ones that include the same information. Just as good real estate salespeople sell houses faster and for more money than bad ones.

We have consciously designed our selling process with a relentless focus on how to achieve the best financial outcome for our clients. This focus has helped us grow our business every year for the last decade and we were very proud to be rewarded last year with the award for the top salesperson nationwide. Call me anytime on 021-764-647 for an obligation free appraisal of your homes value and a brief presentation on how our system could help you achieve a premium sale price.

* The experiment was outlined in the book Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winning psychologist – A fact that is proudly stated on the cover of his book, providing a good insight into using psychological principles to sell more books! The book is fascinating and very well written and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in how the mind works.


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