Robert Cialdini is the leading social psychologist on strategies we can use to influence people to buy our ideas, services and/or products. In his classic, Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, he notes several â€œPrinciplesâ€; six of the more powerful ones being:
- Reciprocity â€“ When someone gives you something or does something for you, itâ€˜s nature to want to repay the favor, even if you didnâ€™t originally request it.
- Consistency â€“ People have a desire to be and look consistent; so youâ€™re likely to act in a way which is consistent with your prior words, beliefs, attitudes and deeds.
- Social Proof â€“ People often decide what to do based on what similar people think or do.
- Liking â€“ People prefer to comply with requests from people they know and like.
- Authority â€“ People often defer to an authority for their decisions.
- Scarcity â€“ People usually value a scare resource more than if they think itâ€™s abundant.
Indeed, in our presentation, selling and negotiation training programs, we help people understand these principles and how they can use them (e.g., limited time offers, give before you receive, build a liking relationship with prospects).
Whatâ€™s equally important is to understand how to stand-up against such efforts. For instance:
- Reciprocity â€“ Take a moment to reflect why you were given the â€œgiftâ€ and whether it was done solely for the intention of getting something larger from you. For instance, Hari Krishna people used this principle to get donations from strangers: they would stop people and give them a flower, and then ask for a donation â€“ with the latter usually being more valuable.
- Consistency â€“ Before you respond automatically, check if that response really is consistent with your larger value system. Just because you made a donation last year, doesnâ€™t mean you donâ€™t want give one this year to someone else.
- Social Proof â€“ People are more likely to follow other peopleâ€™s lead when insecure. Stop and think about what youâ€™re doing. Know yourself: is it really what you believe and/or in your best interest.
- Liking â€“ Mentally separate what you think of the person from what you think of what you are being requested to do. Just because you like someone, giving them assets which you also know are going to be misused, is a reason to resist.
- Authority â€“ People in authority are not always right, just or fair. Challenge the basis of what you think is their expertise and look for additional evidence.
- Scarcity â€“ Limited time offers may not really be â€œlimitedâ€! Donâ€™t rush, take the time to determine if the â€œassetâ€ really is limited in availability and whether you really want it.
Itâ€™s essential that you understand the Principles so you can use them when appropriate and stand-up against them when not. But once you do, equip yourself and your sales and negotiating team with the skills needed to use them or withstand the persuasion effort. Take the extra moments to analyze the person, situation and yourself, and youâ€™ll make a better decision.
Share with us examples of how you use or withstand such persuasion strategies. This way we all become more attune to what they are and can identify them more quickly â€“ for everyoneâ€™s benefit!