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Sales Techniques that Trick You Into Spending Too Much

Updated on August 9, 2010

The Psychology of Selling

There are so many books, e-books, marketing material, and classes and seminars that focus on one aspect of selling in particular- Psychology. During a recession, sellers will be working extra hard and even more strategically to get your money.

Large corporations have entire departments that research and apply tactics concerning the psychology of buying and selling. Many of us are aware of grocery store items thoughtfully placed so we buy more, and even the store muzak/music has it's role in how much we purchase. When you break it down, the odds are against us and we don't stand a chance to spend less no matter how basic our purchase may be.

Industries that are known for utilizing the psychology of selling are; fitness clubs, grocery stores, retail stores, real estate, restaurant, toy stores, technology sales, and auto dealers. I maintain that consumers can stand a fair chance if they are more aware of selling techniques before purchasing. The psychological factors most involved are being accepted as part of a group, satisfying a self-image/ego need, and emotions. Also sellers will give incentives and since they know people are looking for coupons now more than ever, they'll will be hitting hard in that area as well.

Fighting Chance For Consumers

We've all had the experience of spending way more than we intended to, probably on a daily basis. Sometimes we even ask ourselves how it happened- one minute you were in a clear state of mind and knew exactly what you wanted to buy, the next minute you are walking out of the store in a daze with a large chunk out of your wallet. It's almost as if it happened to you subconsciously. Often times it does.

Fitness clubs often use a good-guy bad-guy technique. One salesperson will greet you and take you on a tour of the gym and it's amenities, chat with you, and seems like an instant friend. If you don't fall hook, line and sinker with that guy, then they bring in another guy, usually a manager, for respect, importance, and intimidation factors. This guy or gal will be less friendly to you, a little more blunt and intimidating. They may leave briefly so that the first guy can talk to you again and you feel relieved and glad to have him be nice to you. Most people fall for this easily.

Counteract this approach by; After you take the gym tour, leave the gym- don't sit down or spend a lengthy time chatting with the salesperson. Immediately upon leaving the gym, write down on a notepad what you liked and disliked about the place. When you keep your visit short and the less salespeople you talk with, the more realistic your decision whether to join or not will be.

Grocery stores and retail stores are notorious for subliminal and subconscious sales. First, the sales are in bright or bold signs that state tempting announcements such as buy one,get one free or 50% off. These items are usually placed where there is the most traffic- up front, end of isles, and eye level. Your children are the number one target, they are naturally impulsive and sellers are counting on that.

Counteract these approaches by;It gives you an excuse to be a healthy eater. Try to see how many non-packaged foods you can buy. In fact, you can easily do this by a visual glance into your shopping cart- there shouldn't be many non-natural colors, just basic colors of fruits and veggies and nature, no screaming neon green fruit twists in a box, etc. A healthy eater shops the perimeters of the grocery store and you will encounter less of these sales tactics. The number one isle that is given the most attention to by grocery stores is the cereal isle- so approach cautiously. Never give into your child's- this is such a bad habit to get into. Teach them good money values and don't contribute to their debt someday by teaching them to impulse shop. Be aware on all levels- stores bombard you on a psychological, visual, and audio level. So really stick to a plan and a list.

Retail stores rely on an image- if you shop or buy a certain brand, then you are worthy. Sales people in department stores often wear the store's clothing for a reason. They are portraying an image. Never buy a piece of clothing that you don't absolutely love- not on the sales person, but on yourself and your body type. If you have to get an opinion, then don't buy it. Sales people will always tell you what you want to hear anyway.

Stores will also try to push store credit cards on you- these are a fast way to accumulate debt. You may save 20% on your purchase today, by applying for a store card, but that 20% will be added back on in the form of interest.

Store email list:Most stores will entice you to give them your email address or sign up their promotion/members card. This is probably the trickiest sales approach because you really have to decide whether you use or need the store's offers or are just buying the product because you have an email offer or coupon. For instance, if you regularly purchase books why not have offers and promotions sent to you, but if you sign up for a store you don't visit often, then you're falling into their trap of enticing you to the store or sending you emails to remind you that you might want something from their store.

The Big Guns

Big purchasesoften involve our emotions, such as buying a first house or a computer or car for your kid. Sales people are relying on this factor; playing on your emotions. They try to assist you imagining yourself in your new car or how you can arrange your furniture in your new house. Psychologically speaking, anything that involves strong images, involves your emotions and will deplete much of your conscious decision making.

Counteract this approach by; doing as much of your research online as possible (auto, real estate, tech items). Read several consumer/customer reviews. Always decide when you are just looking/browsing before you go shopping for your big purchase. Bring someone impartial with you- a friend or relative who is not directly involved or benefiting in the purchase or outcome of the purchase.


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    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

      thank you msorensson. yes great point. Holidays are all about selling and buying. Great point.

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 5 years ago

      Great article. I think you ought to include the push to buy presents during holidays...

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Clark~ great points and thank you for your perspective on this. I am a little agitated by sales methods preying on children, now that I'm a parent. I love what you said about hope of gain or fear of loss- I would almost think more than just buying and sales are influenced by that mentality. Many things in life operate like that. Thanks again.

    • clark farley profile image

      clark farley 6 years ago

      (short of out-right lying) all sales relies on the emotions of the 'Buyer'.

      A good salesman will take advantage of this, usually to the cost (or more cost than the Buyer thought they would incur when they started out), but I would maintain that without the co-operation of the Buyer, there is nothing for the Salesman to do.

      There is an old saying in sales, 'a person buys on emotion and justifies with logic'.

      This is a good Hub for those not familiar with various techniques and strategies that marketers and salesmen employ every day and as one person has Commented, 'forewarned is forearmed'.

      (I make an exception in what I say about co-operation being necessary to be sold something/anything, when it comes to children and young people. And while I take a position of 'let the Buyer beware', it is only to adults I would apply this advice. Unfortunately, the corpocracy that controls our culture does not respect any limitations on who should be fair game.)

      I would end (this Comment) without one insight that I came by years ago, regarding sales and marketing, and that is, 'all sales are motivated by (either) the hope of gain or the fear of loss'.

      Everything follows from that.

      Great Hub!

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      THanks for the comment Joe- I agree

    • profile image

      Joe 6 years ago

      There is a flip side to sales techniques used by retailers. Today's economy has pushed aside a majority of small grocers and has opened up to large box stores and super stores making one stop shopping a necessity. The psychological strategies used have changed the way many people do business. If you look at your typical "mom and pop" stores that have been in operation for generations, they are at risk the most which lets face it still have customers out of loyalty however sometimes loyalty sometimes just isn't enough to thrive. Yes retail stores have reorted to "alternative" sales techniques however the smart consumer will use this to their advantage. Its a war out there...dont choose a side. Find the best deals offered to you regardless of whatever sales pitch is used. Just remember that the bottom line is about the sale and that means that you are in charge.

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      carrie450~ I think a lot of people have been forced into the position of keeping a careful eye on their finances. When I worked and traveled for business, I had to have a credit card and I never wanted one so I did a secure credit card, which means it was my own money on the card as a limit. Also I was taught credit cards were for emergencies, not for luxuries. It's all a mind set really.

    • carrie450 profile image

      carrie450 7 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

      Hi izetti, an excellent hub you have written here. I suppose I am also guilty of falling for some of the traps of using credit. After reading this I will certainly be more cautious

    • profile image

      muhammad tariq 7 years ago

      i love your side

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      pattyhobbs~ Seems exploitive for companies to target children, even i a grocery store where we are most likely to go with our kids. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      Patty Hobbs - Selling Techniques 7 years ago

      Agree that children are very vulnerable to this. Specially my two kids who are just attracted to those big Buy 1 take 1 posters of junk food. It's war out there!

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 8 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Excellent Hub, izettl. Forewarned is forarmed. Very helpful.

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Can you imagine how much money we could save if we were totally aware and conscious of all the sales subtleties we come across in our shopping trips?

    • DarleneMarie profile image

      DarleneMarie 8 years ago from USA

      Nice Hub! I agree izettl - every square inch of every retail store is designed to sell you MORE than you really need of anything! They are trained well with their tactics.

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks rockinjoe. It's like an army against us every time we walk into a store- it's amazing the effort put into selling us more and more....

    • rockinjoe profile image

      Joseph Addams 8 years ago from Standing right behind you!

      What a fantastic topic to write about. I'm sure we all fall for this type of selling day in and day out. Great hub!