Robert Cialdini’s book ” Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion ” was published in 1984 and is as relevant now as it was then, confirmed to us by Steven Hooley. It has become a bestseller in marketing and sales, and you have probably already heard about Cialdini’s 6 principles for influence:
Commitment & Consistency (Commitment & Consistency)
Social Proof (Social Proof)
In this post, we look at each persuasion principle and show how you can implement them directly to help you sell more both online and offline.
Whether you want to improve your sales calls or your advertising campaigns, you will see that better persuasiveness can make a mediocre salesman a top seller and a losing advertising campaign a winning one.
Let’s go through the 6 principles of influence and see how you can use them to sell more.
Retaliation: Give Something To Get Something Back
The principle of retaliation is based on the idea that it is in the nature of people to ”pay back” for a service. We want to pay back our debts and treat people the way they treated us.
So if you give a person something for free, he or she will feel obligated to pay back. Even if what you gave was just something small.
The book tells of an experiment where they first gave people a soda can and a little while later they asked to buy tickets. The soft drink cost nothing compared to the tickets, but the majority of those who received the soft drink bought the tickets. While most who did not get a soda did not buy the tickets either.
According to Cialdini, the psychological reason behind this is that we dislike feeling indebted to anyone.
Tips For Use
- Give something away for free first (before you ask a person to buy something).
- Offer something valuable to customers in exchange for their commitment
Example: You are PT and your core business is personal training sessions with you. You publish a free pedometer that helps people count their steps every day. Your prospect received something of value from you, and you can follow this up by offering additional help through a ”Try on” pass with you, for only SEK 99, before you end up with a more comprehensive package.
Commitment & Consistency: People want what they do to be consistent with their values
The principle Commitment and Consistency says that we want people to see us as consistent. This means that if we say we are going to do something to someone, then the chances are greater that we are actually doing it.
The reason behind this is that people think it’s important to keep their word. Cialdini suggests that commitments in both words and text are effective if you want to persuade someone, and that people usually keep their word even after the factor that motivated them is gone.
Tips For Use
- Ask for a very small service first
- Break down what you want customers to do in small steps that are easier to handle
Example: You sell large glass panes, and ask your website visitors to download your price list in exchange for their email address.
Or if we take PT as an example again, you can offer a free guide that gives visitors something of value in exchange for their email address (see picture below) . In this way, the chances increase that they will eventually see themselves as your customers, which makes it more likely that they will buy something from you later.
Social Evidence: People Do What They See Other People Do
The principle of social evidence is based on the idea that something is safer if more people do it.
If, for example, your employees work late, the chances are greater that you do the same thing.
Or if we see that a restaurant is always full of people, the chances are greater that we go to that place. We are most affected by this principle when we are insecure and we see people who seem like us doing something.
A classic example of this principle is the elevator experiment where people who go into the elevator do exactly what the majority of the elevator does, even if it feels odd. So when everyone in the elevator is facing one direction, the next person who enters the elevator will most likely do exactly the same thing.
See the elevator experiment here:
Tips For Use
- Show references on your website about what previous customers say about your company.
- You can also have reviews on product pages, where customers can vote and write what they think of the product. See how Amazon uses reviews to sell more of its products:
Example: Team Guardab sells security doors to both private individuals and companies, and they show logos from the 5 largest customers and tell us that over 100,000 private individuals trust them.
Authority: If An Authority Figure Tells Us To Do Something, The Chance Is Greater That We Do It
In the book, Cialdini tells us that people usually do as authority figures say – even if that person is shady and asks us to do shady things.
A classic example is the Milgram experiments where test subjects tortured other people with electricity because they were told to do so by an authority figure.
The tendency to do as authority figures say is often used in the sale of everything from shoes to toothpaste. For example. in advertising about toothpaste, dentists are sometimes included in the advertising.
Tips For Use
- Use an authority figure who is respected by your customers to get customers to buy from you.
- Cite and refer to experts and respected institutes.
Example: You sell toothpaste, and have a dentist in their nice white dentist coat who recommends your toothpaste on your website.
Like: The more you like someone, the greater the chance that you will be persuaded by him
Is it important to be liked by someone?
According to Cialdini, it is extremely important because it affects whether you succeed in being persuaded by that person.
That is principle number 5: Approval. It can mean things like how attractive a person is and if you have common interests.
There is a quote that says, ”People want to do business with people they like.”
Tips For Use
- Use pictures of friendly people who are the same as your customers.
- Use text that speaks your customers’ language and that you would use in a personal conversation with them.
- Relate with your customers so they feel like you’re just like them.
Example: You and your colleagues are web designers who specialize in creating websites for sports-related businesses. On your “About Us” page, you tell us about your own sports background and convey that you are not just another web agency, but that you actually have one pretty big thing in common: sports.
Scarcity: If You Think Something Is Exclusive, You Want It Even More
The last principle is scarcity.
It says that products and services become more valuable in our eyes if they are exclusive. For example, we are more likely to buy something if we hear that it is the last product or if the offer disappears soon.
It is in our nature not to want to miss the chance at something that we feel we must have.
Tips For Use
- Make sure you only have a limited number of products to sell
- Set a time limit on your offers.
Important: Use the scarcity principle only when it is true. Otherwise, there is a risk that your customers will see right through you. False scarcity is when a company says that there are few products in stock but it is obvious that this is not true.
Example: Airlines are an excellent example of some who use scarcity in a good way.
On their websites it usually says “Hurry up! Only 2 tickets left for this price! ” The airlines make it clear to customers that the tickets are only available for a short time for a special price.
Cialdini’s 6 principles have long been used by companies and retailers to make more money. In the corporate market, your ability to succeed in influencing people is important, and these principles can help you make it more effective.
Carefully review these principles, memorize them, and apply them in your company’s marketing. If you use them correctly, you will eventually see a positive change in your company’s profitability.
Do not be afraid to give your customers free information or some examples. And be sure to tell your customers if you have deals that are only available for a certain price for a short period of time.
That’s all for today. Thanks for reading!
Update 2017-06-24: If you liked this reading, I have written an even more detailed (and extremely practical) article about Robert Cialdini’s second book ”Yes !: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive” which you can read here. Warning: the article is looooong (over 7000 words!) .
Team Animated Commercial
Robin Waller, Maria Axelsson, Robert Neckelius