SELLING TECHNIQUES (3/4): What Is Rare Is Desirable. Here Is How Manipulators Cheat You.

Here is a third powerful selling technique of this series used by manipulators to sell you
what they want, using another lever: scarcity.

The Furniture Dealers’ Secret Technique

This use of scarcity to influence a purchase is the most perverse. Yet, many dealers such
as furniture dealers use it.

When a client seems interested in a piece of furniture, a seller comes close to him and says:

“I see this model interests you, and you are right, it is an amazing one. Unfortunately, I think
we don’t have any left in our stock.”

The customer asks most of the time when the piece of furniture will be available again, or if
he can find it somewhere else.

To what the dealer replies:

“Wait a second, I’m going to make sure if we don’t have one left.”

He comes back from the back shop a few minutes later, announcing proudly he has finally
found the last available piece after many efforts, and that the customer is really in his lucky

Sometimes he even claims to have canceled the order of another person so that the
customer can buy the last copy.

You guess what happens next: the customer makes the purchase, influenced by
the scarcity of the product.

The ‘Robot’ Experience

Here is an interesting experience, related in the book Influence from Robert B. Cialdini:

Psychologists brought children, the ones after the others, in a room full of toys. Among
these toys, a robot.

When the robot was placed behind a plexiglass window but still reachable with some
efforts, more children wanted to play with it.

By not being easily accessible, it became desirable. Yet, it was exactly
the same toy in both configurations.

The ‘Chocolate Cookies’ Experience

Another experience led by psychologists completes the previous one:

Chocolate cookies were proposed to volunteers who were asked to measure their desire to
eat them.

When the box contained only two cookies, the volunteers found them more desirable than
when it contained ten of them.

Even better: when the volunteers were presented first a box with ten cookies, which was
immediately replaced with a box containing two cookies, the desire was even stronger.

And the desire rises to its highest level when the volunteers were told that only two cookies
were left in the box because there were not enough cookies for everyone.

The rule to remember is that:

What is rare is desirable.

What was abundant and becomes rare is even more desirable.

What becomes rare because of others is the most desirable.

This is the reason why some sellers try to put their customers in competition.

We often see farmers shouting out loud in markets:

“Attention please, there won’t be enough for everybody!”

How To Use Scarcity To Sell To Your Customers

Using scarcity as a selling technique can be ethical or not, depending on whether the
scarcity is real or misleading, and depending on the involvement degree we have with the

In the example of the furniture dealer, the use of scarcity is verging on fraud. On the
contrary, the farmer who shouts:

“Attention please, there won’t be enough for everybody!” can truly be honest.

A simple sentence can influence a purchase without being misleading.

Use sentences such as: “Limited stocks” or “Order before stocks run out” or
“Only 19 copies left in stock”, and you will see the difference in your sales.

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