Do you know that feeling when you are holidays and walking down the street looking for a restaurant? You are not familiar with the area and the place is bussing with lots of people. There are plenty of choices, yet you don’t know which one to choose.
Some restaurants are busy, some half full and others empty. So, which one do you pick?
Each time I ask this question in training, most people tell me they would choose the busy one. When I ask why I get similar responses.
They assume it must be good if everyone else is going there. Sometimes they even say they are just drawn to it. So, what does this say about us as people, as buyers or even the human condition?
Psychologists describe this social phenomenon as social proof or even the herd mentality. We tend to look to other people when we are unsure of a situation. We assume they have the knowledge and inside track. So when lots of other people believe something is great, we assume they must be right and we follow.
We like to fit in, so we often do things because everyone else is doing it. The feeling is even stronger when we know the people or can relate to them. When we have these experiences, we are more likely to listen, influenced and drawn into the situation.
Clever sales people adapt the principle of creating the “busy restaurant syndrome” when selling their product or service. They don’t present a long list of features or benefits (which the customer probably isn’t interested in or will forget). Having previously identified what is important to the customer; they build a picture and tell a story about other user’s experience.
They talk about how they have helped the other company, the positive impact, results or experience gained by the other customer. They make it tangible with facts and talk in terms of benefits. To be effective they will instil mystery to entice interest, so the potential buyer will want to find out more.
We all know most people don’t like pushy salespeople either. So, the clever sales person who adopts this approach will naturally come across as a little more laid back, confident and less forceful. And from the customer’s perspective they will appear less desperate and more trustworthy.
Used correctly, “creating the busy restaurant syndrome” can be a very useful tool to influence and persuade customers in any sales presentation to the point of making the sale.
My advice is to keep the story short, relevant and honest - enough to entice interest and create a demand. Just like the busy restaurant when you assume it must be good and now you really want a table.