Written by Sean McPheat |
Many of our delegates on our selling skills courses want to improve or increase their influencing skills because they want to impress potential buyers into buying from them.
This is natural, because we want to give reasons to buy and hence gain more opportunities. The skills we need to influence or persuade others doesn’t have to be forceful or manipulative.
In Robert Cialdini’s book ‘Influence: The psychology of persuasion’, he sets out six specific techniques that will help us influence others when done ethically and with honesty.
These six will help us achieve influence because the potential buyer doesn’t feel manipulated; instead, he feels it’s the right thing to do.
The first technique is ‘reciprocity’. This is a common law in human nature. If we are given something, we feel obliged to return the favour. So, if you are able to give of your time and expertise to help a potential; buyer, they feel that they have to, in some way, reciprocate.
This obviously doesn’t mean that they view it as a bribe. As soon as the buyer senses we are doing something for ulterior motives, he will feel under obligation and will probably resist. But when the value is seen as honestly given, they are more likely to see you as a benefit to their business.
Technique two is known as ‘commitment or consistency’. Here, you need to have strong belief that your products and services can benefit your customers and their businesses. You need to look and act professionally at all times with these buyers so they recognise a high degree of value associated with personal and intellectual strength. By displaying this confidence and strength of character, you increase the value your are perceived to give.
The third idea is ‘social proof’. This means that people will do something if they see that others are doing it and benefitting from it as well. When buyers see that other companies of similar size to them in industries similar to theirs are succeeding with your products, they are more likely to see the benefits themselves and buy into your solutions.
Third=party testimonials on video, statistics on how others have improved, case histories on what others have done to succeed with your services are all examples of social proof.
Then, there’s ‘likability’. Jeffrey Gittomer says that ‘if you’re not likable, get out of sales!’ and there’s some evidence behind the truth of that tongue-in-cheek statement. We all know that people do business with people they like and trust. So, we need to recognise things that will make us likable to others and practice these often and with sincerity.
Following on is the level of ‘authority’ that you display. If you come across as an expert on your industry, you are more likely to be listened to. Identify a subject that is close to your potential buyers’ hearts and write an article on it. Share it on Facebook, link to it on Twitter, and place it on all your group sites on LinkedIn. Create an infographic about it and get it published.
The more people who see your articles and share them with others, the more likely it is that you get known as an authority in your business and industry.
Lastly, Cialdini speaks of ‘scarcity’. Anything scarce is perceived as having a high value, as you will recall if you’ve ever been gasping for air while in the swimming pool, or dying for a drink on a hot day!
Cialdini states that ‘not only do we want the same item more when it’s scarce, we want it most when we are in competition for it’.
Witness the queues outside the shops on ‘Black Friday’. See the clamour in the Apple stores when a new product is launched. Notice how advertisers use the ‘Hurry, last few available’ strapline when they want to entice customers.
Scarcity can be used if you are able to show the benefits of a limited edition model or a product that you can’t get many of. Identify how the specific buyer could benefit from this and how the competition would love to get their hands on it too. This will increase its perceived value and create more interest.
Cialdini’s six principles offer an insight into human dynamics and can be used with integrity within sales if you are attempting to influence buyers’ decision-making processes.
Originally published: 7 April, 2015