Bypassing Your Prospects’ Hard-Wired Conversion Obstacles, Pt. 2:
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the first of the three psychological reasons people to say “no” that Dr. Eric Knowles examined in his book, Resistance and Persuasion.
In this article, we’ll explore the second and third forms of resistance: inertia and reactance. Circumventing these obstacles can have a massive impact on the performance of your website.
Inertia – Resistance to change
If you’ve lived on this planet for more than 10 years, you know how difficult it can be to convince people to change their established routines. People like to do things the way they’ve always done them (even when they know there’s a better way). Studies show that our brains go out of their way to form habits, then “reward” us with happy hormones when we maintain them.
It’s Newton’s First Law of Motion applied to human behavior; bodies in motion stay in motion. We tend to keep doing what we’re currently doing, and it’s hard to start something new.
Habits are hard to break. And there’s a sense of comfortable familiarity and security that come from keeping things the same. So we resist change.
As marketers and salespeople, we often think the way to make our propositions more compelling is to increase the perceived payoff customers will get when they buy from us. That’s why we pile hundreds of dollars of bonuses on top of our offers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; giving more value is always a good idea.
What we don’t realize is that habits are their own payoffs. That’s why people get set in their ways.
Alan Weber is quoted as saying “Real change happens, when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.” The same is true when it comes to selling your product or service from your website. You may have difficulty demonstrating that the payoff of using your product (which they haven’t felt yet) is greater than the payoff associated with their current product or lack thereof (which they’re currently enjoying).
Consider trying another route. Instead of focusing on the payoff of taking action on your offer, show your visitors how much it costs them to keep doing things the same way. What do they lose by continuing on the path they’re currently taking?
According to Weber, change happens when that reality hits home. Then your prospects can replace their old purchasing habits with better ones – yours!
Reactance – Resistance to persuasion itself
Jeffrey Gitomer wrote in The Sales Bible, “People don’t like to be sold but they love to buy.” When you look at your own experience, you can see the truth in this statement.
Of course, that fact is one of your biggest challenges as an online marketer. People want to buy things to satisfy their desires and remove unpleasant aspects of their lives. They just don’t want to feel like they’re being “sold.”
Claude Hopkins wrote that “Any apparent effort to sell creates corresponding resistance.” It’s an instinctive reaction. Instinctively, our brains think “Hey! This guy is trying to benefit at my expense. Well, he’s not gonna get me!”
A customer’s sales resistance is related to a psychological phenomenon called reactance. In layman’s terms (as per Wikipedia), reactance is a person’s subconscious rebellion against what he thinks someone else wants him to do.
We see the other person’s will as a threat to our freedom to decide and act as we please.
When a salesperson asks “how can I help you?” you don’t believe her true intention is to help you, do you? You think she wants to help herself. You imagine that she’s going to do everything in her power to make you purchase what she wants to sell you, not necessarily what you want to buy.
You’re sure she’ll try to make you buy now; you want to make up your mind in your own time.
People want to operate on our own terms, not those of a salesperson (or anyone else). So we resist.
You neutralize reactance by not appearing to sell. On the Diamond Website Conversion blog, we talk about push vs. pull marketing regularly. That’s largely what this issue boils down to.
Have you ever noticed that commercials on TV are louder than the program you tuned in to watch? Obviously, that’s an attempt by the advertisers to get your attention, and it works. You can’t ignore the blaring sound. But is that a good thing? Most would agree that it’s not.
No one likes to be pressured and no one likes to be shouted at. It may grab your attention, but it’s also irritating and puts you in a negative mood. That defeats the purpose of your message.
Don’t “shout” your sales message. Hard-selling is counterproductive. Instead, seduce. Give your visitors reasons to listen. Make them want to know more about what you’re talking about.
Engage your readers by talking about topics that are truly important to them. Tell interesting stories. Create a sense of curiosity. And really communicate what’s in it for them. When you start sounding like someone who just wants to sell something, you’re in a heap of trouble.
In Part 3 of this series, we’ll explore how the brain’s hardwired cognitive biases can either work for you or against you in marketing your business. See you then!
Donnie Bryant is a direct response copywriter living near Chicago, IL, USA. He specializes in increasing conversion, sales and profits for businesses and entrepreneurs by injecting true persuasive salesmanship into their marketing messages. Visit his website at http://donnie-bryant.com