The Six Principles of Persuasion

Never has a business book has hit me as hard, or kept me smiling for as long, as The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr Robert Cialdini.

If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s a bit of a life changer (if you do what he suggests!).


Here are the 6 principles, only in brief:


People are obliged to give back to others who have given to them: you, then me, then you. This is particularly important in sales. Value is the buzzword – offer clients more REAL and PERSONALISED value FIRST, and they will be more likely to buy from you.


People who make a choice or take a stand will encounter personal and interpersonal pressure to behave consistently with their decision: the starting point. If, for example, your client believes that you are the “action” supplier, quick to respond, then they are much more likely to tell their colleagues, and stand by the decision even if your service slips a little.


People will decide what is appropriate for them to do in a situation by examining what other people are doing: people proof, people power. This is where case studies come in, and customer video testimonials.


People see opportunities as more valuable when they are less available: the rule of the rare. You see this used in sales all the time – “Limited Offers” etc. Customers are much more sensitised to it now, so please use this with sensitivity. If it’s a crass attempt, customers will see straight through it. If you genuinely have limited resources, then this can be used.


People prefer to say ‘yes’ to those that they like: making friends and influencing people. We know this, but sometimes we take “likeability” for granted. We have to work on being likeable, just like we have to work on being fit and healthy.


People rely on those with superior knowledge or wisdom for guidance on how to respond: sharing knowing. If, for example, someone tells me to look after my heart, I may or may not listen to them. If that person is a heart specialist however, then I might listen a bit more closely!

Cialdini put in loads of research and ties many of the concepts to selling. If you are in sales, you really should read this book!

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