Even the most punctual, disciplined person can probably admit that he or she has waited until the last minute to do something—be it pay a bill just before the due date, use a coupon on the day it expires, or frantically finish an assignment the night before the deadline.
Deadlines are a motivator; if they didn’t exist, there are some things that we might never get done. They inspire a sense of urgency, and creating urgency compels people to take action—especially in sales.
The importance of being urgent
The longer a potential customer waits to make a purchase, the less likely it is that they will actually make one. More time means more opportunities for distractions, competing offers, and other obstacles that prevent them from buying your product or service.
Most of all, your prospect may simply lose interest over time. You must never underestimate the seductive power of procrastination. As anyone who’s considered quitting smoking or going on a diet can confirm, “I’ll do it tomorrow” often translates to “I probably won’t do it.”
How to create urgency in sales
It’s a good idea to not only show your audience the benefits of buying but the benefits of buying now.
To that end, here are 7 simple techniques guaranteed to create a sense of urgency.
A coupon with an expiration date or a one-day-only sale gives your audience a clear reason to act right away. Discounts are a great way to compel people to buy, but only if they don’t happen very often. If a product is always on sale, it rather defeats the purpose of creating a sense of urgency. Don’t “move the goalposts” by constantly updating your discount’s deadline, or else your special offer suddenly won’t seem so special.
This technique operates on a similar principle to the discount, only it involves adding value rather than subtracting from the price. Offering your client something enticing in addition to their purchase (such as a free gift basket, extra services or a coupon for future orders) can be a good way to encourage them to act sooner—especially if you establish a deadline that they must meet in order to receive it.
Consider creating a giveaway or contest that customers can enter by purchasing a product, joining your mailing list, engaging on social media, or taking some other action. Every contest has a deadline, making this an urgency factor that your audience is probably already familiar with.
Since your customers likely aren’t guaranteed to receive a benefit with this technique, the reward you offer will have to be especially compelling if you want to inspire fast action. Be sure to make the contest’s rules and regulations clear in your sales collateral; if customers suspect that you won’t follow through, they won’t see much need to apply.
Consistently free products/services
What’s better than getting something at a low price? Getting it for free, of course. “Free” might just be the most powerful word in sales writing, so if you can consistently offer your audience something that they can always get for free (without having to make a purchase or commitment), you’re likely to attract a lot of urgent attention from potential customers. A free air pump for car or bike tires, a complimentary credit report, or a helpful tool on your website are all examples of things you might choose to offer up.
When something is guaranteed to always be free, audiences feel like they’re missing out if they don’t seize the opportunity. Think of all the free online services you take advantage of every day: Facebook, Hotmail, Google’s various services (including search, e-mail, and website analytics), and many more. These tools are freely available at any time, but they still maintain plenty of urgencies for consumers to use them.
In fact, there’s practically a stigma if you don’t use them. Businesses aren’t likely to work with someone who doesn’t at least have a free e-mail or social media account. After all, if you’re not smart enough to take advantage of something that’s always free, what other knowledge are you lacking?
Alternatively, consider advertising something free with no purchase necessary, but only for a limited time: a free trial period at your gym, a free treatment at your spa, even a free sample of your product if they come in within a certain time frame. Not only will you inspire people to take action sooner—those who sample your products or services may want to purchase them in the future.
Imagine the long lines outside of a department store on Black Friday or a trendy, elite club that only lets a select few inside. The more exclusive your product or service, the quicker your customers will act. Scarcity can be achieved by offering a product with limited availability or a limited amount of time to schedule appointments for a service.
You don’t necessarily need to reach Black Friday mob levels of urgency; even a little pressure is often enough to motivate buyers, especially when you use specific numbers such as the number of products you have available or the date your offer expires.
Above all, make sure that your claim is genuine and honest. If you’re only using it as a cheap promotional gimmick (such as claiming that your supplies are running out when they’re actually in abundance), your audience will notice and you’ll lose their trust.
You obviously can’t directly control your customers’ needs and desires, but you can appeal to them through your sales pitch. Ask yourself what personal reasons your customer might have for buying from you right away.
It might be that the problem they’re suffering from is time-sensitive, like a debt in need of refinancing or an upcoming baby shower for which they need a gift.
It also might just be that the problem affects their quality of life, such as in the case of a lonely soul in need of a matchmaker or an insomniac seeking a more comfortable mattress.
If you can remind customers of these negative consequences as well as the positive consequences they’ll get from buying your product/service right away, they’ll be that much more likely to do so.
Remember that the purpose of creating a sense urgency in sales is never to make your prospect panic, but to encourage them to solve their problem as soon as possible. You’ll get the best results when you listen to your clients and consider their circumstances. With a little research, you’ll soon discover the things that best motivate them to take action today (instead of putting it off for later).
Can you think of more ways to create urgency in the sales process? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!