How to Influence Others

No matter what business you’re in, you have to “sell” your ideas to others. You’re a marketer whether you like it or not. If you can’t sell other people on your ideas, your business will flounder, you won’t get the promotion at work, and your spouse won’t be convinced.

Plus, knowing basic sales techniques and skills will allow you to see through how others are currently influencing you. The more knowledge you have, the easier it is to see through anytime people are trying to “manipulate” you into anything that’s not in your best interest.

These skills can be used to benefit or take advantage of others. It’s not the skill itself that’s the problem. It’s how you use it. For example, sometimes people try to influence you to do good things such as the doctor telling you to take care of your body, your spouse convincing you to eat right, and your pastor asking you to give to the poor. They’d be more productive if they knew the basic psychology of influence.

Those scam artists use the same techniques of influence…and in most cases are much more skilled in their use. The difference is they’re using them in a selfish manner where they’re the only winner. If you’re convinced by them, you lose. Doing business with integrity means you only use these techniques where everybody in the deal wins. If there is a loser, you’re misusing your influence.

One of the books I highly recommend is “Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini. It’s one of the classics about persuasion, sales, and marketing. And everybody in business should read it at least once. In it he details the 6 weapons of influence that determine human behavior.

Here is a quick overview of these 6 techniques. How can you begin using them whenever you try to influence others? You might consider them a checklist for your sales letters and websites. You might use them when networking with others in your niche. You might apply them the next time you have a disagreement with your spouse. You might use them when you ask for that raise.

1. Reciprocation

This rule states that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us. If someone does you a favor, you want to do them one in return. If someone buys you a present, you feel the need to buy them one. You feel obligated to future favors, gifts, invitations, etc. I made note of this in my last post. I received a gift, and now feel the need to give back.

Another way this can be used is the “rejection-and-retreat” method. This means you make the higher offer first. If it is refused, you retreat to your lower option. For example, a pool table dealer found their average ticket sales were much higher when they offered the $3,000 model first and then the $329 option than if they showed them the other way around. The same method can be used to get referrals. If someone refuses your offer, they may be willing to refer others who would be right for your offer.

2. Committment and Consistency

Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter pressure to behave consistently with that decision. This is especially true if we make a statement in public. This is part of the reasons you want to write down any goals you have. It’s part of the committment process. You’re even better off if you show your written goals to others.

If you’ve ever wondered why companies go to such lengths to get testimonials, it’s a combination of this influence secret along with the next one. If you create a written testimonial that may be made public, you don’t want to go back on your consistency. You’re much more likely to stay loyal to the company and continue to feel good towards them.

3. Social Proof

People do what they see others doing. Most successful websites are loaded with testimonials…even better if those testimonials come with pictures, audio, or video. Many poor TV comedies use canned laugh tracks to convince you something is funny (because if they didn’t you wouldn’t laugh at their poor jokes). Any seminar speaker knows that if they can get a large group of the audience at their product table, they will make more sales irregardless of why they went there.

If you start hearing about how successful a site is, you begin believing it. If a business looks busy, you want to know why. You’re nervous to pull into the restaurant parking lot if they’re no cars there. Yet, people wait in long lines for the busy restaurant even if they’ve never had it before. In an audience, people will often look at others before they begin laughing. They want to go along with the crowd even if they talk about being an individual (this is even true of teenagers).

4. Liking

People buy from those they know, like, and trust. That’s no surprise. Influence comes into play in how it is used. This is the basis of home parties such as Tupperware and others. The “host” invites their friends and gets some prize or gift for hosting based on the purchases. The attendees all know this, and are much more willing to open their pocketbooks since it will benefit their friend. The same tool comes into play when you follow-up on referrals…and tell them you were referred to them by one of their friends.

Joe Girard, the world’s greatest salesmen, sent out monthly greeting cards to all his customers. The basic message simply said, “I like you.” That’s all. He was building a relationship. The sales principle of modeling works on this same basis. People like those who are most like them. They like those who dress like them, talk like them, and act like them. If you write sales copy, you know a key principle is getting to know your customer and writing to them in their language.

5. Authority

People obey authority figures, even if they don’t completely understand the request. They recognize and respond to titles such as professor, PHD, doctor, etc. Always let people know your expertise and authority on the subject. It may be because of a title, but it’s even better when you’ve achieved certain results and let people know about it.

Not only does this apply to titles, but it also applies to clothing. “Uniforms” such as the military, clergy, or police obviously affect people and their reaction to the wearer. But people also look at other clothings such as expensive suits, laidback outfits, etc. They judge the person and view them by what they’re wearing.

It’s interesting that “suits” don’t produce as well in my pictures compared to much more laid back forms of dress. As mentioned by one of my clients, when I have more laid back pictures it speaks about “freedom” which is what many are looking for. What is your outfit saying?

6. Scarcity

People want things when the opportunity is limited. If anybody and everybody can have it, you don’t want it. You want exclusive opportunities that are only available to a limited number. This is constantly used in marketing. There are only 100 of these available or the deal is only good for the next 3 days. We can give you this price if you make your decision today.

All collectibles are based on this principle. There are a limited number like this. The low number available gives the product value. We want what others want (social proof), especially when there aren’t many available. For a long time I’ve taught people that every offer needs to involve scarcity in someway…either by limited number or time. Otherwise, people will wait to make a decision later. The key here is to be honest and use a real scarcity.

For example, on Wednesday I will make an offer here that is limited in number (only 100 available because I only have 100 of one of the parts to the offer) and limited in time. I’ll be making a major discount (more than 75% off), but it will be for no more than 48 hours at most. It will be truely limited because the sale will be over on time no matter what…nobody will be able to get the same price later.

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