SValentine's Day Necklace Adure, everything is pink and covered in roses, but from the marketer’s perspective, Valentine’s is a male-targeted holiday. According to the National Retail Federation, the average male will spend $175.61 this Valentine’s season on gifts, jewelry, roses, chocolate, dates, and more.

Compare that figure to the average female, who will spend $88.78. While Valentine’s appears to be (and is) a female-centric holiday on the surface, it’s actually the men, in most relationships, who turn the wheels of commerce.

Or is it?

Who’s Calling the Shots Anyways?

Men spend nearly twice as much as women do on Valentine’s, but does that mean they’re really making the decisions? While good marketing targets the purchaser, the one who holds the purse isn’t always the only target.

We all know this to be true: marketers attempt to create an interest in their product with women. Whether they’re successful or not, the marketers then tell the men that the interest is there. Furthermore, they have to incentivize the men to believe that there’s something in it for them if they purchase the product for women.

3 Lessons in Sales Psychology

As you can see, a big part of marketing and sales is a psychological game. Let’s take the occasion of Valentine’s Day to drill home a few fundamentals in sales psychology.

#1 Buyers Care About Themselves

Whenever we make purchases, we’re thinking about ourselves. Whether I’m purchasing an oil change service or a diamond necklace for my wife, I’m thinking about myself to some degree. The oil change is purely a purchase for myself. It makes my car run properly, it helps preserve the value of my vehicle, and I enjoy positive feelings of responsibility and pride when I take care of my property.

The diamond necklace, on the other hand, though it is a purchase for my wife, is also a purchase for me. I derive a personal sense of value and pride from making the purchase for her –not to mention the fact that the necklace gives me yet another opportunity to show her my love.

Takeaway: Every purchase does something for the buyer, no matter who the end-user is. Your content marketing and sales team should always incentivize the buyer even – no, especially – when he/she is not the end-user.

#2 Buyers Can’t Be Forced

Unless you control a monopoly, you really can’t force buyers to purchase your product.

Content marketing is anti-force in the sales world. While direct marketing often tries to push and squeeze the customer into the sales funnel, content marketing takes the customer by the hand, as a friend, and provides value before trying to make a sale.

This Valentine’s Day, as marketers attempt to persuade men that they know what women want, they’ll have to remember to provide something of value first. Check out the Swarovski Sparkling Gift Assistant as a way for a company to provide value before asking for a sale.

Takeaway: Give your audience something of value for free before you try to sell them on the real product. This is a basic form of content marketing. Become a master of generating valuable, free content.

#3 Buyers Need to Be Shown the Way

Disclaimer: Okay, this is a point I’m willing to concede a little bit on for reasons I’d love to discuss in the comments section.

While buyers can’t be forced into anything, they do want to be shown the way. Please gently Peter Frampton the heck out of your audience. Derek Halpern at Social Triggers believes that companies can actually increase sales by offering “less” options.

What Halpern means is this… Take your 50 products and compress them into five categories. Then, instead of trying to sell customers one of 50 products, you’re only trying to sell them one of 5 categories. The buyer can then make his own decision within the product category you’ve “sold” him on.

Steve Jobs realized the benefits of this sales psychology principle long ago in 1997 when he made sweeping cuts in Apple’s product offerings. The move brought Apple back from the verge of bankruptcy and resulted in a $309 million turn of profit.

Takeaway: You know what your buyers want, so show them. Just be careful to not be too forceful. Nobody has to be your customer.

Start Selling from the Psychological Standpoint!

These are just a few of my favorite sales psychology tips. You’re probably already implementing some other psychological selling strategies yourself. I’d love to know what’s working for you, as well as what’s not. Feel free to share in the comments section below!