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In our everyday business and personal lives, one of the most valuable things we can do is persuade people to take the action we wish them to take.  After all, the ability to influence others, to change their minds and have them support our goals, is more than a skill—it’s an invaluable power.

So how do we persuade a prospect, a customer, a partner, a friend or even our spouse to act as we wish them to act?  What are the factors that influence people to say “yes” to our requests? The answer is surprisingly simple:  we leverage behavioral psychology and use it to our advantage.

Armed with behavioral science tactics, business deals close more quickly, marketing is more effective—and relationships can function more smoothly.

That’s where one of my favorite books comes in: “Influence:  The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini, PhD. Dr. Cialdini shows us there is indeed a science to how we are persuaded. You may find a lot of his findings surprising.

Through his six principles of persuasion, Dr. Cialdini shows us how we can influence an individual’s will in order to produce a desired outcome.

Let’s take a look at each of his six principles and how they apply to the business world:

Dr. Cialdini explains that people’s behavior is driven in part by their desire for consistency. Reminding customers or prospects of the commitments they made in the past (i.e., the things that they previously expressed interest in or said) will often elicit a reaction because most people don’t like to appear inconsistent. For instance, you could follow up with a prospect by saying “You said you were interested in working together—when would you like to begin?”

When people perceive that a product or service is scarce, demand for it increases. This can also be true for certain products or services that are well differentiated in the marketplace or that are perceived as being higher quality. The perception of a unique or higher quality product can coincide with the perception that it is less available, thus making it more desirable. By building the perception that your product or service is a “rare thing,” you can get more people to take action sooner.

This principle is based on the theory that when people are uncertain, they will look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their own. This is why it’s so advantageous to announce new customer contracts and to promote client testimonials. When prospects see that others—in some cases competitors—are using your products and services, they are more likely to consider you and do the same.

The principle of reciprocity demonstrates that people feel obliged to give back to you when you have given them something first. Usually, this involves offering them some sort of a gift — even if it is something small and simple. The gift has to be meaningful, though; preferably something that helps the person in some way. It could be a future discount on one of your products or services or it could be a more tangible gift like a bottle opener keychain with your company logo on it. Behavioral science reveals that when your customers or prospects receive this gift, they will feel more compelled to do business with you.

The idea here is that people are much more likely to say “yes” to those that they like. Persuasion science shows us that there are three important factors when it comes to how likeable we are. In the words of Dr. Cialdini: “We like people who are similar to us, we like people who pay us compliments, and we like people who cooperate with us towards mutual goals.”  Savvy organizations know how to engage with their customers and prospects on a more personal level by identifying commonalities or shared interests through the exchange of just a little bit of personal information. Marketers who succeed in making their interactions more personal will also succeed in getting “liked,” thus making their customers much more likely to take action.

Your marketing and advertising should do more than just provide information.  They should position you and your organization as an authority in the industry you serve. Do you or the people in your organization hold industry awards or advanced degrees? Has your company received notable awards or recognitions? If so, you need to play that up to your advantage in your marketing. Don’t just provide information; deliver it wrapped in your own unique expertise and play up your experience.

These six principles seem simple enough, right?  Now, as you go about your day, consider the countless applications of these principles of persuasion.  In marketing and sales, as in other aspects of work and our personal lives, they are invaluable.  The trick is in leveraging them to your greatest advantage.

If you’d like assistance with creating savvy marketing, public relations and/or social media campaigns, just reach out to us at  You’ll quickly see the immense difference we can make in your success.

By Rosalie Berg, President, Strategic Vantage

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