In the mid-1930’s Alan Monroe studied the psychology of motivation and developed a technique to structure persuasive speeches. Now you might not be doing a lot of infomercials or public speaking, but you can utilize the same psychological processes in your advertising and sales. Whether it’s a pitch to investors, talking with a potential consumer, or writing copy for your website you need to know Monroe’s motivated sequence. This structure gives you a footprint to follow for every hard sell, whether it’s a 30 second street pitch or a 30 minute presentation.
First things first. You need to get their attention. Don’t let them keep scrolling; don’t let them check their watch; don’t let their eyes glaze over as you’re talking. Grab their attention. Every situation is different, but two things almost always work. Personally bringing a lot of energy to the table, and doing something unexpected.
You’ve got their attention so now it’s time to help your audience identify their own need. This means both the problem that your product or service solves and the intrinsic psychological need that every human being needs fulfilled. You already know what problem your product is solving, so we’ll leave that part to you. There are 5 levels of intrinsic human needs, so figure out where your product or service falls. Everyone already has these needs, but you’ll need to get them thinking about it now.
Here’s Maslow’s 5 levels of needs, which are (almost) self-explanatory. If you need a more in depth explanation, check it out here.
Now that you know what that needs look like make sure you state it, illustrate it, and elaborate on it. You’ve tied together the problem that your business addresses and a psychological need you know they have. Now point to way to the solution.
You’ve got their attention, and reminded them of their need. Now you solve their problem. You need to make sure your product or service is the solution to fulfilling their needs. Provide not just the actual problem your product specifically solves, but also convey to your audience how this will be fulfilling their inner psychological needs. This is your chance to break down the details and benefits of your product.
Your audience now knows their needs, and they’ve seen you offer up a solution. The next step to moving them to action is to help them visualize this solution (your product) in action. Paint them a picture (not literally) of them using the solution you’re providing them. Whereas the satisfaction stage was all about specifics, visualization is bringing all those details to vivid fruition. It’s your job here to convey to your audience the actual experience of using your product in the best way you can.
Time to seal the deal. You and your audience both know that what you’re selling is the best solution. But just because you’ve got that fish on the hook, doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing. Step one: make it urgent. People love to slow down, step back, and consider things carefully. Create urgency because that delay is not a salesman’s friend. Step two: make it easy. Find the shortest distance between yes and it’s done. Step three: leave them no other option. Did you ask your audience an open-ended question like “do you want it” or “will you buy it?” Wrong. Give them an either or option, where you win both ways. Example: “So can I put you down for two or three orders?”
Bonus: Pavlov’s Follow Up
Almost everyone’s heard the basic psychology story of Pavlov’s dogs. Pavlov’s dogs salivated whenever he brought them food, and eventually they would salivate whenever he entered the room even without food. So he started ringing a bell when he fed them, and soon enough any time he rung a bell the dogs would salivate. Conditioning psychology was born. So try this: after you complete a sale leave a good taste in your client’s mouth. Whether you actually give them some cookies, or just send them a thank you note, make sure that they associate positive memories with you and your business.
Every sales case is different and every one implements this process differently. Often the steps will overlap, but any good sale has got all 5 pieces.See if you can spot the parts of Monroe’s motivated sequence in this classic ad, that you’ve probably seen before.
Attention:Almost before he can get his name out of his mouth, he’s grabbing your attention by wringing out buckets of water on the table, and claiming “you’ll be saying wow every time”. It peaks your interest and it barely takes 5 seconds.
Need: This sale cleverly appeals to multiple needs throughout the ad. It emphasizes saving money, saving time, and attaining social status (associating it with RVs, boats, and sports cars).
Satisfaction: This ad is especially effective because it is showing how the product fulfills your needs by constantly using it.
Visualization: Those user testimonies are people just like us (or so they hope) so it’s as close to looking in the mirror as you can get. Meanwhile the whole video is a visualization of someone using the product to do exactly what it claims.
Action: At the end you see the classic blue call-in screen. They create urgency by providing you a ‘limited time” offer. When they ask you to call now, you’re basically already sold on it, and it’s just a phone call away.
Now get out there and break a leg!