12 Psychological Principles for Super-Persuasive Sales Outreach

5 minutes
May 16, 2022
Sales Effectiveness

For salespeople and BDRs, crafting attention-grabbing outreach is a superpower. Sure, you might have an amazingly helpful AI email assistant, plus a trusty AI wingman to uncover demand, identify accounts,...

For salespeople and BDRs, crafting attention-grabbing outreach is a superpower.

Sure, you might have an amazingly helpful AI email assistant, plus a trusty AI wingman to uncover demand, identify accounts, and tell you when to reach out. But it’s still on you to hook your prospect’s attention.

Sometimes a pragmatic approach and hard-nosed facts get the job done. But ultimately, you’re dealing with people – and people aren’t always logical. Our innate biases mean we often make decisions without really knowing why.

Once you understand the psychology behind these biases, you can use them to tap into your prospect’s underlying emotional drivers. Try these 12 persuasive principles to craft outrageously convincing outreach.

1. Loss Aversion

We’re more worried about missing out than we are about gaining something. You can tap into loss aversion, or FOMO, to grab your prospect’s attention.

Are they tired of losing out to competitors? Can you show them the value they’re missing out on by not using your product?

We use this principle at 6sense by revealing the accounts searching for our prospect’s keywords or competitors. No one likes to see business that’s passing them by.

2. Specific Numbers Are More Believable

Your prospects are less likely to trust round numbers. The simple reason? They look made up.

So don’t say We help 500+ businesses. Say 528 and counting. Don’t round off numbers or decimal points – share the raw data to build credibility and trust.

3. Serial Position Effect

Bullet points and lists are always useful to break up emails and summarize key benefits or actions. But maybe it’s time you put more thought into your lists.

The serial position effect means it’s easier to recall the first and last items on a list. So remember to place the most valuable information at the start and end of your lists.

4. Social Proof

Next, one of Robert B. Cialdini’s renowned six weapons of influence: social proof.

If we don’t know how to act, we take our cue from those around us. It’s also known as the bandwagon effect.

When we say sales teams at top companies like Sage, Showpad, and Zendesk use 6sense, you’re more likely to want to see what all the fuss is about. So fill your outreach with customer quotes, results, or simply name-drop relevant customers.

5. Social Proof, Supercharged

Social proof works. But it’s even better when it’s specific.

We used this effect in a recent email to better industry average open rates by 64.6% and click rates by 79%.

How? We told EMEA-based AEs they’d see how an Enterprise AE from Salesloft crushed quota by 415% and got voted the UK’s #1 sales rep last year. (You can find out for yourself by watching the on-demand session here.)

Specific examples spark greater interest by using people’s natural affiliation with those they see as part of their “tribe.”

6. Status Quo Bias

We’re resistant to change. That’s why change management plays a huge part in the success of any technology implementation.

You have to demonstrate why your prospect needs to change, and why now. Show them the risks if they stand still, alongside the wins of businesses already taking action.

Back up your narrative with numbers – whether that’s through the likes of a value calculator, customer stories, or relevant stats.

7. The Barnum Effect

Personalized outreach performs 4x better. But when you’re personalizing at scale, you don’t have the luxury of tailoring every word for every email.

Thankfully, the Barnum effect means you don’t have to. This principle says we’re drawn to statements that feel personal, even when they could apply to anyone. It’s the reason people believe in horoscopes, or think Netflix suggestions and Spotify playlists are truly unique to them.

It’s not an excuse to send out generic outreach. Your emails should be tailored enough upfront to feel personal. But it does mean being smart with pre-prepared snippets for personas – around say pain points, or goals. They save you time and get the same result in your outreach.

8. Choice Paradox

When you’re trying to be accommodating, you can end up offering your prospect multiple choices. But, just like when you’re confronted with an encyclopedic menu at a restaurant, too much choice is overwhelming. It leads to inaction.

So simplify things for your prospect. Make the action clear, and keep choices down to a minimum.

9. Framing

Your product or offer might be the same, but the way you frame it will change people’s perception. Imagine you’re about to have a surgery – you’d rather hear about the 9 in 10 people who survive, not the 1 in 10 who don’t.

It’s worth testing the framing effect in your outreach. For example, does your product cost $1,000 for three months, or do prospects get a month free and the following two months for $500 each? Try different ways of framing to create the most compelling offer.

10. Anchoring

Ever wonder why TVs are often displayed at the front of an electronics store? It’s down to anchoring.

The first thing we see anchors our expectations. So seeing big-ticket items first makes everything else seem like a good value. Anchoring is particularly important when pricing, so be purposeful whenever you’re sharing price points.

11. Authority Bias

We tend to trust authority figures in our field.

Building authority relies on demonstrating your professional credentials and expertise. You can do this with your own knowledge, but you can also earn authority through trusted third parties.

In B2B, this is where the analysts come to play. For instance, we’re never shy to reference Forrester naming us a leader, and giving us the highest score possible in the strategy category in their 2022 ABM Wave report. Use third parties to boost your authority.

12. Reciprocation

Let’s finish with another principle from the OG of influence, Robert B. Cialdini.

Reciprocation. People like to return favors.

In 1974, sociologist Phillip Kunz sent 600 Christmas cards to total strangers. He got over 200 cards in return, all because we’re conditioned to follow the rule of give and take.

So be generous with your knowledge and time, share great content, and send a gift or two. Your prospect is more likely to give you their attention in return.

Put these psychological principles into action by combining them with our tips for crafting outstanding sales writing.