How are some sales people able to persuade people to buy their product? How do certain sales people seem to be able to influence potential customers towards a sale? Is there a science to their sales methods?
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Dr. Robert Cialdini, is an incredible book all about persuasion.
Dr. Robert Cialdini is the psychology expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.
Influence explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings.
The rest of this post includes a summary of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, takeaways from Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, and a reading recommendation for you.
Book Summary of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Have you walked into a store, chatted with a sales manager, made a purchase, and then regretted the purchase upon driving home?
Have you ever received a sales phone call, and then produced to purchase whatever junk the salesman was making?
What about donated to a cause you didn’t actually believe in, but were sold on through your conversation with the volunteer?
Enter Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Influence is all about human psychology and how we, as humans, can be persuaded to do different things based on different stimuli and information.
In Influence, Dr. Cialdini argues there are six universal principles of persuasion:
These principles are so powerful that they generate substantial change in a wide range of circumstances. Some of these principles you are probably aware of, some of them you may not be.
Let’s go deeper into each of the 6 universal principles of persuasion.
The Principle of Persuasion of Reciprocity
The first universal principle of persuasion is reciprocity.
People are more willing to comply with requests (for favors, services, information, concessions, etc.) from those who have provided such things first.
The rule of reciprocity is essentially, I do something for you, and in return, you do something for me.
For example, according to the American Disabled Veterans organization, mailing out a simple appeal for donations produces an 18% success rate; but, enclosing a small gift (personalized address labels) boosts the success rate to 35%.
Give and you shall receive! That’s the power of reciprocity.
The Principle of Persuasion of Scarcity
The second universal principle of persuasion is scarcity.
People find objects and opportunities more attractive to the degree that they are scarce, rare, or dwindling in availability.
Even information that is scarce is more effective. How many advertisements have you seen where the commentator says, “For a limited time, act now!”?
A beef importer in the US informed his customers (honestly) that, because of weather conditions in Australia, there was likely to be a shortage of Australian beef.
His orders more than doubled. However, when he added (also honestly) that this information came from his company’s exclusive contacts in the Australian National Weather Service, orders increased by 600%!
Many businesses will use sales to make it appear as though something is scarce. Now that you know about this principle of persuasion, you’ll want to be on the look out for it!
The Principle to Persuasion of Liking
The third universal principle to persuasion is liking.
People prefer to say yes to those they know and like. You are much more likely to help your friends and family than a stranger on the street.
In one example, research done on Tupperware Home Demonstration parties shows that guests are 3 times more likely to purchase products because they like the party’s hostess than because they like the products.”
The Principle of Persuasion of Authority
The fourth universal principle of persuasion is authority.
People are more willing to follow the directions or recommendations of a communicator to whom they attribute relevant authority or expertise.
These authorities include doctors, lawyers, businesspersons, police officers, etc. We generally trust people with credentials and a lot of education.
One study showed that 3 times as many pedestrians were willing to follow a man into traffic against the red light when he was merely dressed as an authority in a business suit and tie.
Authority is very powerful and should be used carefully.
The Principle to Persuasion of Social Proof
The fifth universal principle of persuasion is social proof.
People are more willing to take a recommended action if they see evidence that many others, especially similar others, are taking it.
One researcher went door to door collecting for charity and carrying a list of others in the area who had already contributed. The longer the list, the more contributions it produced.
Another example is bartenders who will stuff the tip jar to make it seem like they already have received a lot of tips during the night.
That’s the power of social proof as a tool for persuasion.
The Principle to Persuasion of Commitment/Consistency
The sixth universal principle of persuasion is commitment/consistency.
People are more willing to be moved in a particular direction if they see it as consistent with an existing or recent commitment. “You are a nature loving person and our conscious about your health. Would you like to try some organic food that was made without harming the Earth?”
Consider how small that commitment can be and still motivate change forcefully: Gorden Sinclair, a Chicago restaurant owner, was beset by the problem of no-shows—people who made table reservations but failed to appear and failed to call to cancel.
He reduced the problem by first getting a small commitment. He instructed his receptionists to stop saying, “Please call if you change your plans” and to start saying, Will you call us if you change your plans?”
The no-show rate dropped from 30% to 10% immediately.
That’s the power of commitment as a way to persuade.
Takeaways from Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.
The main takeaway from Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is the power of words.
By changing how you say certain statements and ask certain questions, you can guide a situation towards the result you want.
Every day, we are bombarded by sales ploys and deceitful techniques. There are many people out there who are trying to make a quick buck.
Through understanding these different techniques of persuasion, we can do a better job of avoiding some of these sales traps and psychology tricks.
The Mastermind Within Recommends Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion will help you gain a better understanding of the human mind and human behavior.
If you are in sales, or deal with clients on a regular basis, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is a must read!
Even as a consumer, or as someone interested in psychology, Influence is a fantastic book, and will open your eyes to some of the tricks and techniques of big corporations and sales companies.