Copywriting: Sales Psychology 101: How To Sell Anything Online (Even If You Suck At Sales)
I have a confession to make:
The thought of selling has always terrified me.
I loved the idea “on paper,” but the thought of DOING it freaked me out. I thought I had to be like the guy from the Wolf of Wall Street.
It always seemed high pressure, and sleazy. Even if I was doing it online.
Can you relate to this?
I did have one thing going for me, though: I was a systematic thinker.
Have you ever cooked before?
Then you should know cooking = the right ingredients + the right process.
If the end product doesn’t come out right, you have to keep tweaking the ingredients, or your process.
Let me ask you a personal question:
What happened on the first campaign you ever launched?
You probably didn’t get any conversions, and if you actually make money on your first campaign, you’re luckier than 99% of all affiliates.
So you start thinking…
“I’m a systematic guy, I can figure this out”.
This exact thing happened to me on my first campaigns. So I started reading. Forums blogs, sales letters, everything I could on selling.
Think about it: your ads, angles, and landing pages have one job – SELL.
You’re convincing people to take action or pull out their credit cards.
Understanding is half the battle.
Sales doesn’t have much to do with charisma, “brass balls” or being pushy.
(Unless you’re pushing really shitty products and it’s your last resort)
It’s actually the OPPOSITE of the Glengarry Glen Ross stereotype: it’s mostly about understanding and relating to your customer.
You wanna get in their zone, figure out their real pain points.
Not just hammer them with your hard pitch.
In this article, I’m going to cover some of the essentials of sales psychology I’ve picked up from 10+ years in affiliate marketing and teach you how to sell online.
- Some tips are my own.
- Some are from other people.
- Some are a mix of both.
The goal here is not to create a new system, but to paint a picture of what sales is really all about… And maybe take some pressure off you in the process.
Use these tips to help you write better ads, angles, and landing pages.
#1 Make everything about the customer
What’s everybody’s favorite topic?
Themselves. It’s the subject they know the most about, and people love talking about it.
Try this as an experiment – next time you’re in a conversation with someone, see how many times they talk about themselves. Once you’re aware of this fact that people love themselves more than anything else, it makes sales a LOT easier.
It’s one of the first things you’ll read in any decent sales book. People live in their own little world, and unless you’re a celebrity, you’re probably not part of it. So your job is to “get inside.”
How do you do this?
My best advice is to make your language more personal:
- Ask questions they will say yes to.
- Show you understand their problems.
- Write like you were talking to your best friend. Don’t use big words. Keep sentences short. Write in a casual tone.
- Make your writing “you-centric” (say “you” a lot, rather than “I” or “we”)
You need to know WHO your readers are, WHAT they want, and then SPEAK to those wants.
It takes research, empathy and maybe a little eavesdropping. But the results speak for themselves: you will notice a solid bump in conversions when you start focusing more on the customer, and what they will get.
Pro Tip: Learn the “slang” of your target demographic.
Imagine you’re talking to a 25-year-old guy who wants to lose weight. You’re not going to tell him to lose his muffin top. You’re going to help him “get shredded.”
#2 People buy on emotion, but justify with logic
Here’s a crazy thing about people:
They’re ruled by their emotions.
Every single one of them, including you and me.
We might like to think we’re smart people navigating the world with crystal-clear logic, but the truth is that ALL our desires are rooted in feels.
So you need to speak to emotions, not logic, to make the sale. It’s a big topic, but I have a few recommendations to get you started on the right foot:
- Read and study Drew Eric Whitman’s book Cashvertising.
- Find places where your ideal customer hangs out online, and listen to their conversations (online or offline).
- Ask questions.
- Use Voluum tokens to personalize landing pages… When people see something is for “them”, they’re more emotionally charged.
- Use opening and closing “loops” to create a “cliffhanger” effect. Classic example: Breaking Bad. The show was famous for keeping people hooked by ending episodes on a “twist”. You can do the same thing when you’re selling to people online.
- Speak to your customer’s desires.
- Dig deeper to find “the benefit of the benefit” (the hidden desire that lurks beneath the surface need).
- Write personally. Like you’re 50 Cent at the start of the Outta Control video clip. Not like a big 4 accounting website.
- Show that you’ve experienced pain points the customer is struggling with. Aka, show some empathy.
#3 Restrict options
We’ve all heard about information overload. It’s the reason why if you slam someone with 1,000 colors of a shirt, they can’t make up their mind and leave the store without buying even one.
The same goes for your landing pages. 95% of the time you wanna give them ONE exact thing to do RIGHT NOW, not a “buffet” of options.
Here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind for learning how to sell online :
- Encourage people to do one specific thing right away.
- Make your CTA button a different color, and larger than other text.
- Ask for the sale (sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people avoid it).
- Have only one CTA per page. (But have lots of links that all go to the same destination)
If you look at a lot of “sweepstakes” style landing pages, they’ll present 3 “options”. However, two are “sold out.”
They’re limiting the target’s choice to one, and combining scarcity / urgency on top of that.
That’s the difference between simply copying a landing page, and understanding why it converts.
#4 Most people aren’t going to be interested
ALL of your sales will come from a tiny fraction of your traffic. It’s like the 80/20 rule on steroids.
So don’t worry if not everyone seems super interested immediately.
Figure out who your target customer is, and tailor your message to them.
Who cares about the rest of the market, most of your income will always come from a tiny fraction, so focus on them.
#5 People do more to avoid pain than gain pleasure
Google “loss aversion” if you want proof of this concept.
There are a ton of academic studies that show this is a real fact.
It seems wrong, but in a weird way, it makes sense.
Think of it like this: for most of humanity’s existence, survival was tough. Every day was a fight just to eat and sleep peacefully, and there were real threats to your life right around the corner. In this kind of environment, if you had something valuable, you might think that keeping it was LITERALLY “life or death.”
What does this mean to you?
One simple thing: it pays to sell on fear of loss. Let people know what they risk losing if they don’t buy from you.
The “fear” angle only works if the person thinks the thing is important. You probably wouldn’t use fear to sell a fidget spinner (but if you’re creative you’ll find a way – FOMO), but you might use it to sell investments, insurance, finance etc.
Here are some ways to implement this:
- Talk about the consequences of not taking action.
- Use scarcity; make offers “limited time only.”
- Give them something free but put an expiration date on it.
- Use the Pareto rule (promise ‘80/20’ results, big gains at low costs).
- Mention case studies of people who failed to take action and lost out big time.
#6 When people agree with you, they buy
A big sign that somebody is going to buy is if they’re nodding their head in agreement.
You can even use agreement to convince skeptics. Get someone to agree to a very obvious fact, then another, then another.
Slowly you can convince people to your way of thinking.
A powerful sales trick you can use is called “trial” closes. Throughout the landing page, you ask simple questions that make them say yes.
Let’s say I’m trying to get someone to buy a flashlight and I’m using long copy. I might throw in small questions throughout the copy such as:
- Don’t you hate it when the battery dies right when you need it the most?
- Have you ever wished you had a flashlight that was 100x brighter?
- Wouldn’t it be awesome if you had a self-defense item with you 24 / 7?
Yes, yes, yes.
“Do you wanna buy my flashlight?”
So towards the end when you ask for a sale, it causes dissonance for them to say no.
#7 Amateur works best
Amateur looking ads and landing pages often work better than corporate looking ones.
This sounds weird, but reasons behind it are very simple:
- They’re more personal.
- They seem more authentic.
- They stand out compared to what everyone else is doing.
- They disarm people and make you seem non-threatening.
- They make things about “you” the customer, not “them” the big megacorporation.
An informal/amateur approach will make you stand out, in a good way.
Here’s a challenge for you: instead of trying to emulate whatever Samsung or Apple is doing, think small to learn how to sell online like super affiliates are They don’t copy big corporations…
Those “One Weird Trick” belly fat ads a few years ago were a great example of the “amateur effect” in action.
Did anybody ever find out the one weird tip?
#8 Use their language
To sell to any niche, you need to speak its language.
Take affiliate marketing.
Imagine a rep comes up to you at an affiliate marketing event. They’re pitching you an offer and they tell you that it comes with some pre-approved creatives.
Only, instead of saying “high converting landing page” they said “high-performance webpage”.
Straight away you’re thinking “wtf does high-performance web page mean lol?”
Every niche has its own collection of words, acronyms, and catch phrases that are popular.
Here’s how to pick up the language of your market:
- Go to the communities and read their conversations.
- Visit forums where your ideal customer hangs out.
- Join Facebook groups in your niche.
- Read up on sites like Reddit where you have real people writing, not people writing paid articles.
#9 Tell stories, not facts if you want to sell online
People like stories more than facts. It’s why most of us would rather spend an afternoon watching a movie than studying biology. Stories command attention and get us wanting more.
I’m not saying you need to go out and read every book on writing and become the next Stephen King to learn how to sell online.
But pay attention to the basics of the craft and work it into your sales process.
Here are some tips to help your storytelling skills:
- Ask a lot of questions to find what your customers are interested in.
- Use open and closed loops to get them hooked.
- Be relatable.
- Don’t rush to get to the point, suspense is good.
- Include jokes, memes, gags, and anything else that gets people comfortable.
- Work on storytelling every day.
Practice it online, in the grocery line, at school, or anywhere else you get the opportunity. Like any other skill, practice makes perfect. And in this case, “perfect” means measurable cash profits for you.
Next time you’re with some friends, notice how much of the conversation is just people sharing stories. It makes up so much of the conversation because people love stories so much.
After 10+ years in affiliate marketing, stories have become a pillar of my sales process. They’re one of the keys to the NGO Affiliate Marketing method.
They’re also one of the easiest ways to boost ecommerce conversion rates for certain products
But remember: you’re not aiming for a Pulitzer Prize here. You’re aiming for a sale. Your storytelling should be natural. Just like everything else in sales, “realness” is the key.
The Bottom line: You Don’t Need To Be A Genius To Learn How To Sell Online.
…But you do need to study the geniuses.
I’ve studied all the greats. Halbert, Kennedy, Ogilvy, Whitman, Sugarman etc.
Being good in sales will get you everything you want in life.
It’s more than just some tricks to boost your app install ROI.
Want to learn more about sales psychology?