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10 Sales Tricks You Keep Falling For

The emotional play
The smell of baked cookies is intended to play on the emotions of would-be homebuyers, but real estate agents aren't alone in targeting the heart instead of the head. Just as Super Bowl advertisers try every year to create an emotional connection to their brand, salespeople will also do their best to appeal to your emotions.

A car sales rep, for instance, will often try to close the deal right after concluding a test drive, with the idea being that the feeling of driving a new car will take hold of the customer and temporarily override any rational objections he or she might have, Reed says. And he adds that a seller might also repeatedly nod and smile throughout a conversation, hoping these positive cues will translate into the customer saying "yes."

Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychology expert and professor of psychology at Golden Gate University, says that the nodding method definitely works, and she's even used it to build engagement while teaching classes.

"Most consumers wouldn't believe that they could be convinced in a nonverbal way like that," she says.

Fun with words and numbers
Which sounds like a better deal: "buy one, get a second 50% off" or "buy two, get both for 25% off"?

As Gault points out, these mean the exact same thing. Likewise, anytime you can get the word "free" in a promotion it's going to get people more excited than any sort of dollar-off sale, even if it's just "free medium drink with your meal." Good sellers know that it's all about how you word it.

As an aside, Gault mentions another bit of number trickery she's seen in stores: A circular rack of clothes will have a "70% off" sign placed on top, but once you get to the register you find that the sign actually just referred to one arm of the rack.

"And by then, you're kind of sold on it," she says.

Make you feel obligated
Ever seen a furniture store give out free cookies, or a car dealer offer you a drink? If so, you probably felt some gratitude for the gesture, which is what they were banking on.

"We're kind of prewired to have a sense of reciprocity, and it takes the smallest amount of niceness on the part of a salesperson to make you feel obligated to buy," Yarrow explains.

Of course, if sales reps offered a free cookie with the purchase of a couch, you'd laugh in their faces, but offering it as a seemingly magnanimous gesture creates a sense of obligation. She adds that this is the same reason a shoe seller will bring out several pairs of shoes to let you try on -- the more it seems like they're helping you, the more you'll feel like you need to make a purchase.
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