Science of Persuasion

I want you to do things my way! I want you to stop thinking like you’re thinking and begin to think the way I want you to think! Do things MY way. I want to sell you on my product or service.

That demonstration—obviously overstated—is what happens every day in the minds of professional salespeople. To the degree a salesperson is able to set their ego-centric desires aside is the degree of success they will experience.

Sales in any form is about converting another’s person’s beliefs to yours. Through the artful use of persuasion we convince others to our point of view. Persuasion is defined as: Inducing to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; to convince.

Successfully influencing someone is a challenge. But there are proven influencing tactics that we can all use which tap into our natural behaviors as individuals and help us to bend others into complying with our wishes.

Researchers have been trying to figure out how best to influence people through effective persuasion techniques for years—probably since the dawn of politics! One of the most popular set of influence tactics comes from a man named Robert Cialdini. Cialdini published the 6 principles of influence in his 1984 book, “Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion.”

During his studies, prior to releasing his book, he spent years watching successful salespeople and marketers at work, asking himself, “What makes people buy from them?”

His 6 principles are: 1) Reciprocity; 2) Scarcity; 3) Authority; 4) Consistency; 5) Liking;
6) consensus.

His premise is we are all from the animal kingdom. As such, we all are plugged into an automated set of basic instincts. Much like birds sing, and dogs bark, we react to certain influences which are part of our DNA. Cialdini’s 6 influence tactics tap into our natural instincts as humans to help persuade us into adopting certain behaviors. He argues the 6 principles are the science behind how we are wired. As a result, we can be influenced by people and organizations that use these 6 principles.

So what are they and how do they work?

Reciprocity: Human behavior usually keeps an account of favors given and favors owed. We generally aim or feel obligated to repay a favor given to us. In the professional world, this could be a free gift added into their offer.

Scarcity: Is the principle that tells people they may miss out on something if they fail to act now! By using this principle, the chance of having more people respond increases.

Authority: Often we feel a sense of obligation or duty to people who we see as being in authority. We don’t often argue with those who are considered experts in their field.

Consistency: We can also categorize this as ‘Commitment’. This principle demonstrates that we normally follow a pattern of behavior. Garnering commitment on a smaller level usually begets commitment on a larger level. In sales this would be like a trial offer, “Try Before you Buy.” Once tried, people will usually continue in the behavior.

Liking: We all want to buy from someone we like or trust. If we can nurture those feelings in others, we are going to be successful.

Consensus: This could also be peer pressure or the need to demonstrate conformity. This principle gently persuades our subconscious that if others are doing something, we should also be doing it.

There is a great YouTube video you can watch that goes deeper into these 6 principles and gives great supporting examples. Simply Google: ‘The Science of Persuasion’ and it will come up. It is very entertaining and takes less than 20 minutes to watch.

Using these 6 influence tactics, you can gently persuade others to your point of view. Used in a positive way, that is neither manipulative nor deceitful, the 6 principles can make a profound impact on the way you communicate and interact with others.

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