Under the influence

Every day, you make decisions you think are rational and objective. You probably have logical explanations for the actions you take; but, in many cases your decisions actually are under the influence of a force that you cannot logically explain.

You are much more likely to buy the thing you sampled at Costco than a product you’ve never tried. You’d rather purchase from a person you know even if his or her competitor has a better option for you. If all your colleagues or friends are buying a certain thing, you’re likely to join them.

In his book Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini explores the principles of influence in detail, explaining the psychology of why people say “yes” and how to apply these understandings.

You can employ influence ethically in your own marketing and sales by using scientific methods like this:

  1. Your prospects feel obligated to return favors performed for them. Consider what you can do to engage their inherent desire for reciprocity.
  2. Your potential clients want to know and follow what others are doing, so your goal is to show social proof that others have chosen you as their vendor. For example, let people in an office complex know that you serve 70 percent of the businesses in that building.
  3. People are more likely to do something if they have committed to it because they want to honor their commitments. If you can get a prospect to publicly commit to total information security, they are more likely to buy the services that support it.
  4. Prospects prefer to say “yes” to people they like. This can apply to those they already know and like or to those who appear to be similar to them. One way to make yourself likeable is to give your prospects compliments.
  5. Buyers respect authority; they want to follow the lead of experts and are conditioned to give deference to those with apparent authority. Show authority in your sales and marketing through the use of job titles or the testimonials of people with authority.
  6. Scarcity causes people to act. The more rare or limited something is, the more people want it. Deadlines, limited-time offers and exclusivity are all powerful influencers.

If you want to influence your prospects, try to employ some—or even all—of these methods in your marketplace. It will help you to convince your prospects to say “yes” more often.


Tom Adams is an executive coach and strategic advisor to RIM service companies. Check out his Thrive in 5 videos online at www.TomAdams.com.

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