Elance Blog

The 5 Principles of Psychological Sales Writing

Making a sale is about more than simply telling someone about your product and asking them to buy. To make a sale, you need to make a connection on a psychological level. You can take two sales pitches side-by-side, and one that follows the principles of psychological sales writing will do better than the one that doesn’t. So, what is psychological sales writing, exactly? Let’s take a look at five basic principles involved:

1. Psychological sales writing isn’t about using smoke and mirrors. There are some self-proclaimed sales writing experts that will tell you it doesn’t matter what you’re selling or to whom, but how you sell it. They tell you that you need to use all sorts of tricks and traps to convince the customer to buy. While most won’t go so far as to advocate outright dishonesty, they do suggest obscuring the product and what it does in favor of making the customer feel good. While this kind of mind game might make a sale, it won’t create a long-term, brand-loyal customer. Instead of asking yourself “How can I get the customer to make a purchase?” in your sales writing, you need to ask, “How can I better express the genuine benefits of making a purchase to the customer?”

2. Psychological sales writing is positive. Good sales writing that connects with the reader on a psychological level is positive. It talks about the good things in a product or service. It’s not always obvious, however, what constitutes “positive” writing. Obviously, discussing a product’s weaknesses isn’t part of good sales writing. Rather than describing a product’s limits, positive sales writing talks about what a product can do. It’s the difference between saying:

  • “This pair of high-tech binoculars won’t let you see anything past 100 yards,” and
  • “This pair of high-tech binoculars lets you see objects up to 100 yards.” Both phrases describe the product accurately. One does so positively, and the other does not.

3. Psychological sales writing is benefit-rich but doesn’t ignore features, either.
Clients often get so caught up in the design and management of their product that they forget what matters to a potential customer. The fact that you’ve developed a unique, strong, lightweight polymer doesn’t matter to the customer; what matters is the fact that the hair clip you make from that polymer can withstand being run over by a semi truck without being destroyed.

This is the difference between features and benefits. Features are the details that make your product special; benefits are the way that your customer’s life is improved by using a product.

Yet, the relationship is more complex than that. Some sales writing experts will tell you to focus solely on benefits. That’s a mistake, too. It’s the features of a product that provide benefits. Good psychological sales writing tells the reader how their life will be better because they purchase the product, but it also tells them how the product actually makes their life better.

4. Psychological sales writing is confident. If the person creating the sales copy isn’t confident in the product, the reader won’t be either. Psychological sales writing uses confident language to talk about what a product does for the customer.

For example, let’s say you’ve designed a revolutionary shoe insert that’s designed to make walking more comfortable (or you’re a contractor who’s writing copy for a company that’s designed such a product). Here are some ways you can communicate this benefit to the customer:


A. “Our inserts can help bring relief to your tired, sore feet.”
B. “Our inserts will bring relief to your tired, sore feet.”
C. “Our inserts relieve your tired, sore feet.”

In example A, the writer isn’t entirely confident. Using the word “can” suggests that it’s possible, but not definite, that the inserts will help.

Example B eliminates that problem. Simply by turning “can help” into “will bring,” you convey a greater degree of confidence to the reader. Yet, this still isn’t the most confident version; the sentence is still conditional. The “will” creates a subtle psychological implication that, at this moment, the inserts aren’t bringing relief to the customer – or anyone else.

Example C is the most positive, most confident version. Here there’s nothing conditional. The inserts relieve tired, sore feet – period. End of story.

5. Psychological sales writing is easy to read.
You have one chance to make a sale with a sales page. The moment the reader hits a roadblock – and there are potentially hundreds of ways this can happen – they’re gone.

There are many things that make sales writing easy to read. Here are a few that yours needs to have:

  • Clear, large, legible fonts. This is a function of your designer, not your copywriter. If you’re a client, make sure you have your designer spend some time on the visual aspect of the writing.
  • Text length and formatting appropriate to the medium. Web copy looks best when there’s some white space, so you typically want paragraphs of 2-4 sentences in length. Copy for a brochure or physical sales letter will be very different, however.
  • Invitations to buy. Every link you place on a sales page – whether it’s to a company website, relevant news article, or even your homepage – is an invitation to leave. Keep your links pointed squarely at the purchase, whether that’s your contact form, order page, or other goal.

Following these principles doesn’t guarantee a sale, but without them you will most definitely lose out on some potential sales. Learn to write in such a way as to connect with the reader on a psychological level and you’ll see higher response rates almost immediately.

About the Author:
Bob Younce is the owner of Composing Business, a freelance copywriting firm currently ranked in the Top 50 writing providers on Elance. Composing Business is dedicated to helping other small businesses get ahead with high-quality, compelling copy. Contact Bob on Elance or visit his website at www.composingbusiness.com.




Excellent article, Bob.

Bob, this is excellent - concise and well-written...a great tool. Thank you so much.

Like it ....helpful thank you