If you want to get what you want in life and get people to do things for you without coercion, persuasion makes all the difference.
Politicians use them to carry out diplomatic manipulations. Parents rely on persuasion to get their kids on their side. Businessmen strive to master the art of persuasion in order to get more customers before the competition does it first.
Persuasion, in other words, is the secret why some people are more successful and why some businesses are more lucrative than others. If you’ve been trying different strategies to get customers on your side to no avail, it’s about time to discover the power of persuasion. Add this skill to your business strategy arsenal and your business is bound to reach new heights of profitability this year.
Influencing others can be a difficult challenge but it’s not an impossible feat. Even small tactical changes can make all the difference at the end of the day. But first you must know that persuasion is not just any skill, there’s a science behind it.
Robert Cialdini, author of the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion said that there are six universal principles that influence a person’s decision making. Master all six and you have your short cut to ethical business strategies that truly work.
Principle #1: Reciprocity
The first principle that influences how a person makes decisions is called reciprocity. Put simply, it is the obligation to give when you receive something unexpected. That means if a request comes with an unexpected gift, the potential to convince customers to buy is greater. Adding the gift in the picture makes customers feel more important and thereby more prone to return or reciprocate the favor.
Take for instance the series of studies conducted in the restaurant industry. When bringing the bill, waiters also brought a mint as a free gift. Results showed that one mint increased the tip by 3% while 2 mints quadrupled the tips to 14%. But there’s a twist. When the waiter gives one mint then leaves the table and turns back to give the second mint and say it’s for customers being nice, the tips went through the roof up to 23%.
From this, we can conclude that it’s not about what was given but how it was given.
You can do the same thing with your business. You can offer personalized and unexpected gifts to your customers and let the principle of reciprocity work its magic.
Principle #2: Scarcity
The next principle talks about scarcity. It is based on the general truth that people want more of things that they have less of. The concept of scarcity in business is best illustrated by what happened with British Airways in 2003. That year, the airline announced that they would no longer operate the London to NYC flight twice daily because it was not economical anymore. The next day, sales went up even though the service remained the same, simply because people were prompted by the impending scarcity.
For businesses, it doesn’t mean you only get into markets with scarcity. What it means is that you use the concept of scarcity to your advantage by not only highlighting the benefits they’ll gain if they buy your products or services but also what they’ll lose in case they don’t. In other words, you need to point out what sets your business or proposition apart from the competition.
Principle #3: Authority
The next principle of persuasion is authority because people like to follow those who they perceive as credible and knowledgeable. Just take for example physiotherapists. Those who display their diplomas in the wall of their office can persuade their patients to exercise and do what was prescribed for them.
In this sense, science is telling us that telling others that you’re an expert in your field helps establish authority and thereby your influence on their decisions. If you can’t tell others how credible you are, you can ask or pay someone to do it for you. Such is the case for a group of real estate agents who enjoyed astounding increases on their property appraisals. By arranging for receptionists to mention their credentials and expertise when answering customer inquiries, they were able to enjoy a 20% rise in appointments and 15% rise in signed contracts.
Again, this is just a small, costless and ethical change that makes all the difference.
Principle #4: Consistency
Another concept that is scientifically supported to help with persuasion is consistency. People like to be consistent with the things they’ve said and done. In business, you can activate this principle by first asking your customers for small initial commitments they’d be willing to make.
In one study, for example, only a handful of people were willing to put up wooden board signs on their lawns as part of the drive safely campaign. In a similar neighborhood, on one hand, four times as many people were willing do it because they were first asked to commit to place small postcards in their windows as part of the drive safely campaign.
It was the small initial commitment of posting small cards that led to a 400% increase. The same success can happen for your business if you incorporate the principle of consistency into your business strategies.
Principle #5: Liking
When a person likes you or your business, they are more likely to say yes. According to persuasion science, there are three things that cause a person to like another. These include: people who are similar to us, people who pay us compliments, people who cooperate with us. In this day and age when more and more of our interactions are taking place online, it pays to consider how you can employ these causes effectively in your online negotiations.
There was on study on liking, for example, that was conducted recently. Some groups of businesses students were ask to go straight down to business because time equals money after all. The result was a 55% agreement. Another set of group of students were asked to exchange personal info first before the negotiation. This approach resulted in a 90% agreement. From this we can conclude that identifying similarities you share with other people facilitate a higher percentage in liking.
The trick for business owners, therefore, is to harness the principle of liking by looking for areas of similarities, offering genuine compliments and seeking for their cooperation.
Principle #6: Consensus
Completing the list of principles that affect your influence on others is consensus. When people are uncertain, they often look to others so they can make decisions.
An excellent illustration of this principle is what hotels have done to encourage their customers to reuse their towels and linens. Most hotels have placed small cards in bathrooms to draw guests’ attention to the benefits of doing so. This effort resulted in 35% compliance. A small change on the message, however, can even increase the percentage of towel reuse by another 26%.
Rather than simply state the benefits, some hotels have included the info that 75% of guests who are checking in for 4 nights or longer are also reusing their towels and linens. By tweaking the message based on a consensus, other guests are likely to follow suit.
Science in this regard is telling us that rather than rely on your ability, you can point to what others have been doing to persuade your customers.
All the principles above can easily be applied to an online business as well. You can still offer freebies, have a limited time offer, work on your brand to build authority, be consistent, allow your audience to get to know you and like you and demonstrate that your recommendations and tips are applied by many that are seeing tremendous results.
Keep in mind that persuasion skills alone, won’t get you far. You need to truly have something of value to offer the marketplace, like outstanding services, training and solutions.
You need a highly converting funnel and offer that gives your followers solutions from A to Z so they keep coming back to you for more.