The Psychology of Influence & Persuasion

The Psychology of Influence & Persuasion

In this lesson, you’ll learn what drives prospects and how to apply different psychological principles in order to influence your customers and improve your sales.

How do you get people to think and behave a little differently? 

To many people, the word persuasion carries a negative connotation. It typically evokes images like that of a disingenuous used car salesman who pretends to be your best friend.

Persuasion is an art—If you push too hard, you will risk being aggressive. If you nudge too lightly, you may turn into a pest. A thoughtful, persuasive argument can lead you to getting what you want.

Understanding How Persuasion Works

1) Persuasion is not Manipulation
Manipulation is coercion through force to get someone to do something that is not in their own interest. Persuasion is the art of getting people to do things that are in their own best interest that also benefit you.

2) Persuade the Persuadable 
Everyone can be persuaded, given the right timing and context, but not necessarily in the short term. The first step of persuasion is always to identify people who can be influenced and focus your energy on them.

3) You have to be Interested to be Persuaded
You can never persuade somebody who’s not interested in what you’re saying.  We are all most interested in ourselves, and spend most of our time thinking about either money, love or health.

[Optional] How To Use 10 Psychological Theories To Persuade People
Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Influence & Persuasion

Back in 1984, Dr. Robert Cialdini wrote a book called ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.’ Since then, it’s been widely hailed as a groundbreaking book on marketing and sales.

According to him, there are six key principles that influence people: Reciprocity, Commitment/Consistency, Social Proof, Authority, Liking, and Scarcity.

Influencing others isn’t based on luck – it’s backed by science. There are proven ways to help make you a more successful marketer/salesperson.

Let’s take a look at each of these principles in more detail.
Reciprocity
When you offer something first, people will feel a sense of indebtedness, which will make them more likely to comply with your subsequent requests.

Cialdini’s first principle of persuasion states that human beings are wired to basically want to return favors and pay back debts. In short, to treat others as they’ve treated us.

The idea of reciprocity says that people by nature feel obliged to provide either discounts or concessions to others if they’ve received favors from those others. Psychology explains this by stressing that we simply hate to feel indebted to other people!

Using Reciprocity Effectively

There are three factors that will make this principle more effective:

1) Offer something first: allow them to feel indebted to you
2) Offer something exclusive: allow them to feel special
3) Personalize the offer: make sure they know it’s from you

The key to using the principle of reciprocity is to be the first to give and be sure that is is personalized and unexpected.

Why Reciprocity Matters

The law of reciprocity means that when someone does something nice for you, you’re hard-wired human nature determines that you do something nice for them in return.
[Optional] Giving Before You Get: 10 Examples of Reciprocity in Marketing
Check out this blog article to see examples of reciprocity used by companies:
http://www.referralcandy.com/blog/10-examples-reciprocity-marketing/
Commitment/Consistency
We are bombarded with hundreds of choices to make every single day. For convenience, we simply make a single decision and then stick to it for all subsequent related choices.
Follow these three methods to leverage off this principle:

1) Ask your customers to start from small actions – so they’ll have to stick to it.
2) Encourage public commitments – they’ll be less likely to back out.
3) Reward your customers for investing time and effort in your brand.

Commonly Used Sales Techniques

1) “Foot-in-the-door” Technique –

A small, easy, not too costly request is made. –Once the first request is accepted, a larger request is made. –It is easier to reach acceptance of larger requests.

–For example, website subscriptions.

2) –“Low-ball” Technique –

An advantage over a product is offered and it generates commitment over its purchase. Once commitment has been made, that initial advantage is taken away. The commitment, however, stays. –

The committed person generates new reasons that justify his actions, which are coherent with his previous commitment.

3) “Encasement” Technique –  

Assign a trait, attitude, belief, or other label, to a person to, after that, formulate a request consistent with that label.

Social Proof
People determine what is right by finding out what others think and/or do and what norms are present in the situation.

According to the principle of social proof, one way that individuals determine appropriate behavior for themselves in a situation is to examine the behavior of others there, especially others who are similar.*

* Cialdini, 1993; Goethals & Darley, 1977; Miller, 1984
Psychology of Social Selling
Enlarged version: http://bit.ly/2kaH2cV
It is through social comparison with referent others that people validate the correctness of their opinions and decisions. As a consequence, people tend to behave as their friends and peers behave.

This principle has been shown to guide such diverse actions as returning a lost wallet, littering in a public place, or donating funds to charity.

Also, we tend to have more trust in things that are popular or endorsed by people that we trust.

How to use the Social Proof Principle

Experts – Approval from credible experts in the relevant field.
Celebrities – Approval or endorsements from celebrities (paid or unpaid).
Users – Approval from current/past users (ratings, reviews and testimonials).
‘Wisdom of crowds’ – Approval from large groups of other people.
Peers – Approval from friends and people you know.

[Optional] How to Use Social Proof to Sell Better and Faster
Liking
We are more likely to comply with requests made by people we like. That can range from our closest friends to complete strangers who we are attracted to.

This explains why we trust word-of-mouth recommendations from our peers, as well as things endorsed by prominent figures.

Factors Affecting the Liking Principle

Similarity – We like people similar to us in terms of interests, opinions, personality, background etc.

Compliments – We love to receive praises, and tend to like those who give it.

Contact and Cooperation – We feel a sense of commonality when working with others to fulfil a common goal.

Conditioning and Association – We like looking at models, and thus become more favorable towards the products behind them.

Physical Attractiveness – Good looks suggest other favorable traits like honesty, humor, trustworthiness etc.

Follow these practices to make the Liking principle work: 

Similarity – Behave like a friend, not a brand. Show them that you can relate to, and understand them.

Compliments – Use social media platforms not to broadcast, but hold intimate conversations and form relationships with your customers.

Contact and Cooperation – Fight for the same causes as your customers and build a rapport with them.

Conditioning and Association – Associate your brands with the same values that you want to communicate and possess.

Physical Attractiveness – Make your product well-designed, and suit what you’re selling.

Authority
We follow people who look like they know what they’re doing.

This holds especially true in fields where we aren’t experts. Most headlines utilize this principle by including phrases like “scientists say”, “experts recommend”, “research shows”.

People respect authority. They want to follow the lead of real experts. Business titles, impressive clothing, and even driving an expensive, high-performing car are proven factors in lending credibility to any individual.

Giving the appearance of authority actually increases the likelihood that others will comply with requests – even if their authority is illegitimate.

You can give off the air of authority if you pay attention to these factors:

– Titles: Positions of power/experience.
– Clothes: Superficial cues that signal authority.
– Trappings: Accessories/indirect cues that accompany authoritative roles.

Scarcity
You want what is in short supply. This desire increases as you anticipate the regret you might have if you miss out by not acting fast enough. We are always drawn to things that are exclusive and hard to come by.

We also assume that things that are difficult to obtain are usually better than those that are easily available – by linking availability to quality.

Scarcity is one of the most popular Cialdini principles that various companies use over and over again in order to boost sales/conversions and earn more money from people.

Scarcity works through anticipated regret, where we think about the future and see ourselves regretting having not taken a decision to act. In a present view, we fear not being able to get something in the future. When we think about the future, we not only anticipate events, we also experience the associated emotions. This present emotion then drives present decisions.

You can trigger your customers’ sense of urgency with these methods:

Limited-number – Item is in short supply and won’t be available once it runs out.

Limited-time – Item is only available during that time period.

One-of-a-kind Specials – Sometimes utilize one or both of the above techniques. Also from one-off events (e.g. collaborations, anniversaries)

Utilizing Competitions – Our inclination to want things more because other people also want them is often utilized in auctions or bids.

[Optional] Scarcity: The Rule of the Few
These principles are powerful because they bypass our rational minds, appealing to our subconscious instincts. They elicit an automatic response in all of us.

However, do note that while these principles can help bring more awareness for your brand, the biggest factor that ultimately drives customer satisfaction, loyalty and sales is a great product.

Efforts to persuade and influence customers will only work when they’re supporting a product that brings true value to customers.

[Optional] Science Of Persuasion
Watch this 12-minute video that provides a summary of Cialdini’s six principles.
Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFdCzN7RYbw&t=2s
Jim Rohn