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A young Salesperson was disappointed. He had lost an urgent sale. In discussing the matter with the Sales Manager, the young man shrugged. “I guess,” he said, “it just proves you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.”

“Son,” said the Sales Manager, “let me give you a piece of advice: your job is not to make him drink. It’s to make him thirsty.”

I suppose this is the same as that joke – “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? None, the light bulb has to want to change.”

The truth is, online you can’t make anyone buy from you. The customer has to believe that they want it and need it. They have to understand that with your help, something will be easier, better or worthwhile enough for them to take that action.

The key to creating desire is persuasion. It is used everywhere to great success. Persuading people to buy online (from laptops to groceries, holidays to services) can be achieved with techniques that marketers and psychologists have known for many years.

Persuasion isn’t rocket science; you must understand the critical aspects of human nature that are often automatic and subconscious in triggering a person’s buying behavior. Of course, sometimes this is used unethically and is therefore not very helpful if we want to be genuine.

So, here are three more ethical ways to persuade people without risking your reputation.

Show what others are doing

People always look outside of themselves for advice, unusually when uncertain about something. This behavior is called social proof. People feel reassured by testimonials, statistics, and feedback and often make decisions based upon what other people are doing.

You can increase your social proof online by showing:

  • Most popular items
  • Customers who bought this also bought
  • Bestsellers
  • Testimonials

Show scarcity of products

People are motivated more by loss than gain. Scarcity generates demand and encourages people to buy sooner.

You can show scarcity online by stating:

  • For one week only
  • Three items in stock
  • Sale ends today
  • Out of stock – Add to wish list
  • This offer ends in 3 days 2 hrs. 1 min 18 secs (Count down timers)

Persuade with pictures & videos

You must have high-quality imagery to back up your claims especially with luxury items. They go a long way to reassure people about what they’ll be getting. Images show the quality and creativity of your products.

Images should always, therefore:

  • Be of professional quality
  • Offer different views
  • Be enlargeable
  • Show scale and context of use

If you engage the senses of your customers and play to their psychology, they will decide to buy from you, and that is most of the work done.

After all, remember you are not ever selling the drink, only the thirst.