Sometimes you know the decision is right for your B2B client and you just want them to say ‘yes’. Here’s how psychology can make that happen.
The wheel of chance.
In this series we’re exploring how you can use the principles of persuasion to get the results you want in your B2B marketing. It all sounds a bit Svengali, but by understanding and using psychology in your communications, you really can influence your audience towards the choice you want them to make.
When we spun the magic wheel of chance in our first instalment it stopped on reciprocity and authority. This time, the golden clicker has tick-tick-ticked to a stop on the principles of social proof, and commitment and consistency.
The community thumbs up: social proof.
Social proof plays on our fundamental uncertainties about our own opinions. How sure are we that we are right? And the bigger the decision, the greater the pressure to make the right choice — and the more likely we are to question our own judgement. So we look for reassurance.
The psychologist who developed the six principles of persuasion, Robert Cialdini, stated that “The greater the number of people who find an idea correct, the more the idea will be correct.”
Translate this into the B2B environment, and we see decision makers looking for reassurance to mitigate the risk inherent in their decision, by looking for evidence that people like them agree with their choice.
Social proof is the theory that people will adopt the beliefs or actions of a group of people they like or trust. So, in a B2B context, a case study from a satisfied customer with a similar business profile to the decision maker will provide social proof. Positive feedback via social media, client testimonials on your website, prominent display of well-known names that you work with — all these can also provide the social proof that could tip the decision your way.
When crafting your B2B content you need to remember that the decision to buy often involves a series of agreements within an organisation. Your initial point of contact may not be the person with the power to sign-off purchase, so you need your content to act as a persuasion tool, creating social proof all the way along the decision-making journey.
Being steadfast: commitment and consistency.
The principle of commitment and consistency revolves around — and makes the most of — the fact that people don’t like to back down from something they’ve agreed to. Humans like to follow pre-existing, values and actions. So, once committed to an action verbally or in writing, this becomes part of our self-image — and we’re much less likely to damage that perception by going back on our word.
So in B2B decision making, encourage your target audience to commit to something relatively small and (usually) free of charge as a first step. This might be giving their email address in order to receive a newsletter or to download a white paper, or agreeing to some form of taster activity, such as a proof-of-concept exercise. This small start then forms a commitment that you can build on to get agreement to larger requests that the decision maker would have found it very hard to say ‘yes’ to initially.
Make psychology work for you.
And watch out for the final instalment, coming soon.