There is a science to getting a prospect to say yes to your offer. We discussed 16 of them briefly in the white paper “16 Powerful Principles to Influence a Sale“. However, according to Professor Robert Cialdini, there are six universal principles that I would like to cover in more detail. In this post, we shall discuss the first three.
Reciprocity is the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual gain. Cultural anthropologists say that reciprocity is actually central to human existence. Its responsible for the division of labor, all forms of commerce, and is the basis for how society is organized. Test after test has proved that reciprocity is a powerful influencer.
Amway distributors knew this when they would often provide free samples for homeowners to try at no cost or obligation. After a few days, the salesman would return to pick up the remaining supply and ask how it performed. Having provided the samples in such a generous way the sense of obligation in the homeowners was so overwhelming that many homeowners ordered products on the spot.
As we discussed in “The Gift of Cooperation” a simple act of kindness can open the door to reciprocity and cooperation.
Restaurant servers have long understood this too. This is practiced when they deliver a small gift of a mint with your bill which has proven to increase tips by 3%. However, making it more personal and returning nearly immediately after delivering the bill plus the first mint and adding another mint while saying something like “For you nice folks, here is an extra mint” increased tips by a whopping 23%.
To make the most of reciprocity, as an influencing principle in business, you should be the first to offer. However, to extract maximum value you should not stop there. Make it clear that when they say “Thank you” that you should respond with something like “Surely you would do the same” to set up the expectation that you will likely ask for a favor in the future.
Some people, like myself, tend to be givers and reluctantly if ever, accept any form of reciprocity. As a group, we tend to be less successful than people that are givers first but set up and accept reciprocity down the road.
People follow the lead of credible and knowledgeable experts. Have you ever wondered why doctors display those medical diplomas on the walls of their exam rooms? Is it because patients are much more likely to comply with their recommendations when they view the doctor as an expert? If Oprah makes a book recommendation to her book club, books fly off the shelf because many people see Oprah as an expert in her field of expertise.
What is the single most important factor that you need from your company’s website to get results? Here is a clue – it is not SEO, it’s not your social media strategy, lead generation or even your advertising strategy. Your website’s number one purpose is to present your business as an authority.
One question I ask clients when they seek marketing advice is “Why should the consumer buy from you?“ or “What makes you special?” What I’m looking for is how they demonstrate authority to the prospective client. When they have no clear response I often recommend that they write a book or volunteer to be a speaker to establish themselves as an authority in their field.
To make the most of authority as an influencing principle in business, be sure to prominently display whatever elements that show people you are an authority in your field. If you wrote a book make sure the prospect knows it. If you have a certification or other credentials be sure to flaunt it. If you are making a presentation, be sure to mention your credentials up-front or better yet have someone else do it for you before you attempt to influence the other party.
Consumers want more when they think that supply is limited. As we discussed in “Harness the Power of Keeping Options Open and Fear of Loss” the science is pretty clear that consumers never want to lose their options. If they think an offer has an expiration date their irrational fear of loss kicks in and causes them to act and buy while they still have the option.
It is no surprise that on the last day of a sale, product sales increase or when an online auction is nearing the end, bidding goes crazy.
To make the most of scarcity as a salesperson be sure to time-band all offers and be sure to at least send a last-day email or a ‘time is running out’ message to awaken all those procrastinators.
How can you use the influencing principles of reciprocity, authority, and scarcity to become a better salesperson?
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