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Scarcity Selling? Just Don't Be Sleazy About It

Ever visited a website and been bombarded by banners and pop-ups that scream "Hurry! Only one item left!"? Did your brain immediately catch it as just another sales strategy that you can ignore because you know how it works and that it, in fact, isn't the last item? Same here.

While scarcity selling is a popular way to create urgency and drive sales, you've identified it immediately for two reasons. First, it's in your face. Second, it's highly likely that the claim is false just to make you add the item to your cart and buy it as soon as possible.

Right off the bat, you don't like it because it's pushy and you suspect they're trying to manipulate you. But what if we told you there was a way to use scarcity selling without resorting to questionable practices?

Understanding the scarcity principle

The scarcity principle is a psychological concept that taps into our fear of missing out. In other words, when something appears limited or in short supply, we perceive it as more valuable and desirable.

When faced with scarcity, our brains go into overdrive, triggering a sense of competition and heightened desire for the scarce item or opportunity. We become motivated to take immediate action before it's too late.

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And while it can be an effective sales strategy, scarcity can easily cross the line into deception or manipulation. Customers should feel confident that they are making informed decisions based on real scarcity rather than artificial pressure. Otherwise, they'll feel like you're trying to trick them into buying something, even if they wanted to buy it in the first place.

When scarcity selling works (and when it doesn't)

Scarcity works best when the product or service is genuinely limited in quantity or availability. If customers believe that they might miss out on something unique or exclusive, they are more likely to feel a sense of urgency and make a purchase. Limited edition items, one-time events, or limited time offers all create a real sense of scarcity.

On the other hand, if the scarcity claim feels false or manufactured, customers will quickly see through the tactic. For example, artificially limiting quantities just to create a false sense of demand can backfire if customers discover that the same item is available elsewhere.

How to use scarcity selling without being sleazy about it

As with anything else, there's a right and wrong way of implementing a scarcity selling strategy in your business. It's all about striking a balance and telling the truth.

Your goal is to create a sense of urgency and excitement while still maintaining trust and integrity. Clearly communicate the limited availability or time frame of your offer without exaggeration or false claims. That way, you're building credibility and ensuring that customers know exactly what they're getting into.

Using scarcity selling with Better Proposals

With Better Proposals, you can use scarcity selling by setting expiry dates for your sales documents. The offer can either expire on a specific date or in a set number of days from sending.

Better Proposals document expiry dates

If you're introducing a new product or service, you can offer it at a discounted rate for a limited time to your existing clients. Simply create a proposal outlining the benefits of the new service and mention that you're offering it at a limited introductory price.

That way, you're giving your clients a good deal while leaving room for feedback and improvement. This is especially useful for products and services you're still testing out for viability.

Another way to add scarcity to your sales is to offer limited time bonuses. For example, if you're selling photography services, you could also offer a limited-time bonus (e.g., an ebook). By letting clients know the bonus is only available for a short period, you have more of a chance of them signing your proposal sooner rather than later.

Final thoughts

While scarcity selling is a useful tool in getting your clients to sign faster, you need to use it carefully or risk damaging your reputation. Clients will quickly recognize false claims and manipulation attempts, which is likely to make them not want to work with you.

So, if you're using scarcity selling, make sure you're honest and transparent. As long as you don't blatantly lie to your clients, it will help you speed up projects and boost sales.

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Patricija Šobak's profile image
Patricija Šobak puts her talent in spotting questionable grammar and shady syntax to good use by writing about various business-related topics. Besides advocating the use of the Oxford comma, she also likes coffee, dogs, and video games. People find her ability to name classic rock songs only from the intro both shocking and impressive.