It was Dr Robert Cialdini’s own experience of being easy picking to peddlers, fundraisers and operators that first drove him to write the 1984 classic; Influence. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller answers the age-old question… ‘What makes people say ‘YES.’
33 years on, 3 million copies and 33 language translations later, Cialdini admits the work he created to make unsuspecting, easy marks like himself more equipped to battle the powers of persuasion, has instead become a blue print for sales, marketers and corporate representatives from all walks “who were ravenously interested in learning how to harness persuasion.”
His revolutionary book debunks the belief that successful negotiation or influencing skills are luck, magic or innate but in fact based on social science. The result; every individual can achieve extraordinary levels of mastery.
To quote the master of influence himself “Those who don’t know how to make people say yes soon fall away. Those that do, stay and flourish.”
So let’s jump straight into the six principles of influence…
Principle One: Reciprocity: ‘The Old Give And Take… And Take”
The act of giving can be used very effectively to gain another’s compliance. The feeling of indebtedness overcomes ordinary objection. By first giving, our prospect is obligated to repay favours, gifts, invitations and the like. “The rule of reciprocation and the sense of obligation is so persuasive in human society that sociologists such as Alvin Gouldner can report there is no human society that does not subscribe to the rule.”
For aspiring persuaders, Cialdini says: “The implication is you have to go first. Give something: information, free samples, a positive experience and they will want to give you something in return.”
Principle Two: Commitment & Consistency
We like to be people of our word. People are more likely to do something when agreed to in writing or verbally. As Cialdini says “People strive for consistency in their commitments. They also prefer to follow pre-existing attitudes, values and actions.”
So, what’s the implication for the persuader? People want to be consistent and true to their word. Encouraging a customer, prospect or colleague to commit publicly makes them more likely to follow through.
Interestingly, age matters. The phrase ‘set in their ways’ rings true to Cialdini’s studies, the older we get the more we value consistency.
Our takeaway for the persuader: Applaud your prospect’s past decisions and sfress the consistent values connecting old actions and purchase with values underlying new actions.
The power of consistency is formidable in directing human action.
Principle Three: Social Proof
In moments of uncertainty, people look to those around them to guide their decisions and actions, especially their peers. Funny movies are far funnier when watched with others, this is because of social proof. Our subconscious instinct to laugh is prompted by the actions of others.
This principle of influence works best under certain conditions. “Without question, when people are uncertain they are more likely to use the actions of others to decide how they themselves should act.”
The persuader's application: Use testimonials from satisfied customers that most closely match your target audience.
Principle Four: Liking “The Friendly Thief”
Unsurprisingly we are more inclined to say ‘yes’ to requests of people we know and like. Furthermore, people are more likely to favour those who are aesthetically pleasing, similar to themselves or give them compliments. Cialdini says, even something as random as having the same name as your prospect can increase your chances of making a sale.
The titbit for persuaders: Be more knowledgeable about your prospects preferences. Cialdini says “One of the things that marketers can do is honestly report on the extent to which the product or service – or the people who are providing the product or service – are similar to the audience and know the audience’s challenges, preferences.”
Principle Five: Authority
We all want to follow the leader. People want to follow experts. Business titles, expensive clothing, flashy cars are proven factors in creating credibility with individuals. Giving the appearance of authority increases the likelihood that others will comply with your requests. Regardless of the legitimacy.
#1. “Don’t dress for the job you have but the one you want” is a real thing.
#2. Use testimonials from legitimate, recognized authorities to persuade your prospects. In moments of uncertainty people will look to these as guidance.
Principle Six: Scarcity – “The Rule Of Few”
The rule of supply and demand. People want what they can’t have. The less of something, the more valuable it is. The more rare or uncommon, the more people want it. Consider the crazy lines of people camping out to claim limited edition shoes or the latest iphone.
Our application: Prospects are more sensitive to the possibility of missing out than possible gains. Use language that draws this out.
Eye-opening, practical and very entertaining. Influence – well worth the read.
Experience Dr. Robert Cialdini’s Power Of Influence & Persuasion first hand during his one day events in Sydney and Melbourne this May/June. Supported by Director of Influence At Work and coauthor of bestseller YES!, Steve Martin, you’ll come away equipped with the concepts, tools and strategies to take your influence to the next level. Seats are selling fast. Book now.
 Cialdini, R , 2016. Pre-Suasion. 1st ed. London: RH Books.
 Cialdini, R , 1984. Influence. 6th ed. USA: Collins Business.
 Tom Polanski. 2013. Dr Robert Cialdini and 6 Principles Of Influence. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.influenceatwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/E_Brand_principles.pdf. [Accessed 29 March 2017].