The next time you’re shopping for clothes in a department store, take a closer look at the price tags. You’ll probably notice that each price tag starts with one price, but then counters with another. They say, “Was $60, Now $30,” or, “Regular Price $69.99, Our Price $49.99.”
These stores are taking advantage of an incredibly effective persuasion technique called “psychological sequencing.” By sequencing the order in which offers are presented, psychologists have found that marketing and salespeople can get customers to purchase more products at a faster rate.
You can use the same process to make a huge impact on your sales. This article focuses on exactly how to do it.
The Psychology of Sequencing
Have you ever put your finger into freezing cold water and then put the same finger into slightly cool water? What happens? After putting your finger into the freezing cold water, it provides a “sequencing effect,” and the slightly cool water actually feels warm. Your perception has changed.
You can use a similar process to make more money. Infomercials, for example, tell us, “You’d think that this wonderful product would cost $200 or $300, but we’re offering it to you today for only $29.99.”
Grocery stores use psychological sequencing to easily make more money. They place price tags next to food items saying, “$4.95–or $3.00 With Your Highlander Plus Card).”
Direct mail experts have learned how to maximize profits by sequencing their messages. They say, “How much would you like to donate? __ $100 __$75 __$50 __$25.” Research shows that this strategy increases the amount of money people are willing to donate.
How to Use Sequencing to Blow the Roof off Your Profits
There’s an important lesson in all of these examples: You can dramatically increase you sales once you get good at applying the principle of psychological sequencing.
If you want to immediately begin profiting from the power of psychological sequencing, start with the following three steps:
1. Start high and work your way down. If you sell televisions, for example, start your presentation by encouraging customers to look at your more expensive TVs first. Say to them, “Let’s start by looking at some of the more high-end TVs so you can get a feel for all of the features offered.” Why should you start with the expensive items? After looking at the $1,500 TVs, the $800 TVs seem more affordable. As a result, the customer is more likely to buy, and he is also more likely to buy a more expensive TV.
2. Be creative with the way that you sequence. I have an auto mechanic who makes me feel good about giving him money. If he has to call and tell me that I need costly new rear brakes, he jokingly says, “Scott, you need a new engine and transmission.” After taking my breath away, he says, “I’m just kidding, Scott, you really only need rear brakes.” I think, “Wow, what a relief, I just need the brakes.”
3. Make psychological sequencing permanent. Do you want to consistently make more money? Find a way to make psychological sequencing a permanent part of your presentations. Each offer should provide your customers with a comparison to another price or product that makes your offer look like the best deal.