Persuasion may seem like an art form and, some people are naturally more persuasive than others. Nevertheless, persuasion is a useful skill in business and with a little help from Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, here’s how you can put psychology to use to influence your customers, peers and colleagues to say yes.
- Reciprocity – By giving a little, you can get a lot in return.
According to Cialdini, we feel obligated to return favours. This is the case even if the favour was voluntary. Hence, the reason behind companies looking to send out promotional items such as pens and free trials drive to paying subscribers. It can also go to an extent of giving advice, help or through content to influence someone’s cooperation or purchase.
- Commitment and Consistency
Consistency, according to Cialdini is considered a positive trait and most of us do not like to be seen as inconsistent. Therefore, if we say we believe in something, verbally or in writing, our actions usually follow suit.
As for commitment, if used effectively, it can be very rewarding in the end. This was demonstrated in a study done in 1966, Compliance without Pressure and proved that seeking small and simple commitment from someone and eventually result in their purchase or commitment to a much bigger statement or action later.
Furthermore, Cialdini cites the example of toy stores manipulating this technique of commitment over the holiday season – Christmas time, where stores run out of the latest or must-have toys which result to parents purchasing other toys as gifts instead. Come January, the toy store restocks the toys and as parents already committed to get the latest toy for their children previously, they end up buying it as well.
- Social Proof – decisions are influenced by what others think
Humans live among society and oftentimes, we look at our peers and those surrounding us to guide our decisions. Our decisions are influenced by opinions of our peers. Caildini explains further on how social proof works by using the example of canned laughter where it is used to encourage comedy show audiences to laugh. The study proved that canned laughter does indeed encourage the audience to laugh more and even at poor jokes.
This technique can influence buying decisions too. This technique can be seen by large e-commerce retailers where it features “what other people bought” onto their site. Hence, testimonials are very effective in influencing buyers to purchase the product or in other cases for us to ask for our friends and family’s opinion to make decisions.