The Best Persuasion Techniques That Can Help You Improve Your Influence
Are you willing to become a master persuader? Someone who knows how to leverage the best persuasion techniques in order to improve his or her own influence.
Persuasion is not just something that is useful to marketers and salesmen.
Learning how to utilize these techniques in daily life can help you become a better negotiator and make it more likely that you will get what you want, whether you are trying to convince your toddler to eat her vegetables or persuade your boss to give you that raise.
Influence is power. Maybe even a super power.
Imagine being able to harness influence as a skill. To be able to use it when the situation calls. The truth is, this is more possible than you may have thought, thanks to psychology research done over the years.
It’s common to attribute success to luck, position, charisma, or economic power. But this is definitely not the whole picture.
Although these factors are important, Psychology also plays a significant role in a successful reality. If you think that success is only based on luck, you’re going to change your mind as soon as you read about some of the most powerful persuasion techniques.
When making a decision, it would be nice to think that people consider all the available information in order to guide their thinking.
But the reality is very often different. In the increasingly overloaded lives we lead, more than ever we need shortcuts to guide our decision-making. Understanding these shortcuts can significantly increase the chances that someone will be persuaded by your request.
Persuasion as a superpower is very much within reach. In this post, we’ll explore the best persuasion techniques you can use to increase your influence more closely and how you can use them.
There are at least seven persuasion techniques that most successful people and famous businesses use. These persuasion techniques work on the subconscious, and can yield top-notch results, if understood and used properly. Let’s find out!
Technique #1: Reciprocity
People tend to feel obliged to return favors. Regardless of whether the person likes the gift, they’re still inclined to give something in return. Having someone feel indebted to you is something that will always be useful, raising your chances of receiving something you want exponentially.
Do something for a person with no conditions or expectation of a return favor, and they are more likely to do something for you.
Reciprocity is not a quid-pro-quo exchange, but rather a situation where one person gives something or provides a favor to another person with no requirement in return.
Many salespeople rely on this inherent mechanism by first offering you something for free before presenting you with their real request.
Several companies offer free gifts for their prospective and current customers to make them more committed to that particular company. It can even be argued that every modern marketer’s darling, content marketing, plays on this principle as well by offering lots of valuable content for free before asking for anything in return.
Giving others small gifts, treating others with respect, and doing favors for those in need, are all things that can win you points with other individuals.
So a good approach is to always help others and be kind when you have the opportunity, because you never know how it may help you down the line. Moreover, it is these small acts of kindness that will be remembered and come in handy when you’re in need of a favor yourself.
However, for reciprocity to be effective a gift must be meaningful, unexpected, and customized.
In one study on tipping at a restaurant in New Jersey, diners who received a piece of chocolate with their check increased their tips by 3.3%. But when diners were allowed to have 2 chocolates, the gift became more meaningful and the server’s tips increased by 14.1%.
The lesson here? Give to your clients.
If you give to your client, they will be more inclined to give to you. So, go above and beyond, and set the precedent. Under-promising and over-delivering will always set you apart from your competition.
Reciprocity is an important part of the social scene. When you get something, you naturally want to give something back.
You can use this need for reciprocity by offering your audience something they value. It doesn’t have to have monetary value or even be anything tangible, although it could be. What matters is that you’ve given them something they feel is worth reciprocating.
Technique #2: Scarcity
People are more likely to buy something if they learn that it is the last one or that the sale will be ending soon. An artist, for example, might only make a limited run of a particular print. Since there are only a few prints available for sale, people might be more likely to make a purchase before they are gone.
People want what is in short supply. This desire increases as you anticipate the regret you might have if you miss out by not acting fast enough.
When British Airways announced in 2003 that they would no longer be operating the twice daily London—New York Concorde flight because it had become uneconomical to run, sales the very next day took off.
You can use the same idea of scarcity when talking to people.
The simple fact is that people want what they can’t have. This explains why limited-time offers are so attractive. People are more afraid of losing something than excited to gain something. Set a time limit for an offer. Remind people that they will lose money if they do not do something.
You can leverage the exclusivity approach too.
Providing access to information, services, or other items to a limited set of people creates a sense of exclusiveness. This often gets translated into being a favor to those people or that you value them more than others.
Savvy salespeople know that the fear of loss is a more significant motivator for people than the opportunity for gain.
The reason this technique works is that most of us are programmed into thinking that anything with a limited supply must be more valuable than a product that has an endless supply and is freely available. It creates a sense of urgency and evokes people to act immediately, which is why it is so popular as a marketing and sales technique.
So when it comes to effectively persuading others using the Scarcity Principle, the science is clear.
It’s not enough simply to tell people about the benefits they’ll gain if they choose your products and services. You’ll also need to point out what is unique about your proposition and what they stand to lose if they fail to consider your proposal.
Technique #3: Authority
What the science is telling us is that it’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority before you make your influence attempt. Of course this can present problems; you can hardly go around telling potential customers how brilliant you are, but you can certainly arrange for someone to do it for you.
People are inclined to listen to an authority figure.
Not only do they often abide by the ruling of the authority, but they may be more inclined to trust and believe in the idea that the authority figure has better judgment. As such, they can be persuaded by an authority figure much easier than by a peer or subordinate.
When customers feel unsure about a purchase, they usually look for a testimony from a person with authority on the subject to serve as a guide.
That’s why the opinion of professionals or experts is already a classic in the world of advertising. Some books on Amazon.com have descriptions where we can see the testimonies of famous people on the subject. For example, if we want to buy the book “The Fortune Cookie Principle”, we can see a comment by Seth Godin, worldwide authority on marketing.
The fact is it’s easier to trust an authority figure in the field than it is to do your own research on any given topic.
Because experts are able to offer a shortcut to good decisions that would otherwise take a long time to devise yourself. The idea then is to establish that credibility of authority and expertise.
Just remember, your expertise isn’t always a known quantity, so be sure to convey it when you get the chance.
There are a number of ways to establish such authority. A quick and easy one is to make visible all diplomas, credentials, and awards in the office or workplace to establish your background. Of course this may not always be an option. Another approach is to convey expertise through short anecdotes or background information shared in casual conversations.
Authority seems a bit like social proof, but it’s based not on numbers but on perceived expertise, status, or power.
The best way to gain authority is to be credentialed with a degree or through a testimonial. You can show this expertise with your resume, a degree on the wall, or by having a colleague give a testimonial and introduce you as an expert.
Technique #4: Consistency
Human beings have a tendency to want to appear consistent in front of other people. We have a need to be consistent with what we’ve done, what we said, and what we’ve bought. People want their beliefs to be consistent with their values.
People unconsciously want to behave in a manner that is consistent with past behavior.
Experiments have shown that if a person performs even a trivial favor for someone, she is far more likely to perform a bigger one later. In online terms, this trivial favor could be a Facebook “like” or completing a one-question survey.
We are bombarded with hundreds of choices to make every single day.
For convenience, we simply make a single decision and then stick to it for all subsequent related choices. The way to earn customer loyalty using this principle is to make them commit to something, whether it is a statement, a stand, or an identity. The principle of consistency says that they will then feel an automatic compulsion to stick with the decision they’ve already made.
Most of the time, you buy the same brands over and over. When was the last time you tried a new snack or drink?
If you make a person commit to something small, you could use the initial commitment to influence them into doing more for you. Once you’ve persuaded someone to do something, get them to make these types of commitments to implement the principle of consistency and ensure there is a legitimate commitment to their words.
This is why salespeople attempt to get customers to agree with them multiple times.
After saying “yes” repeatedly, it is almost impossible to say “no” when it is time for the close or direct request for the sale. The reason why the Yes Principle works is because the human mind is mostly driven by patterns, so if you get your prospect into a pattern of saying “yes” they’ll naturally want to say “yes” to your final question — the close.
A little commitment can easily lead to a bigger commitment.
Ask your audience to do something small for you. It doesn’t even have to matter to you at all whether they do this one thing. Yet, it does matter in the sense that it prepares them to commit to something that will be more difficult and require more of them.
Technique #5: Liking
Persuasion science tells us that there are three important factors. 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.
Flattery gets you everywhere. We all do things for people who we like — and who we believe like us.
People like those who like them or who they perceive as friends. It’s a simple, yet powerful idea. If you can connect with them on their hobbies or interests, you’ll have a solid ground to build from. Being observant of people is a great way to pick up on any clues that may lead you to such common ground.
Salespeople should already be familiar with this concept, as building rapport is a core part of effective selling.
A great way to leverage liking in a business context is to point out what you have in common with most of your customers. If the business sells fishing gear, a photo of the company founder wading in a stream or reeling in a fish will build liking.
Paying compliments and being charming can go along way to building a positive rapport with others.
People don’t listen to unlikeable people, but they do listen to people who are friendly, courteous, and interesting conversationalists. Trying to convince someone to give you what you want while acting in a rude, belligerent, or insulting manner is nearly always a waste of time for both of you.
It is pretty obvious that the way we feel about a person doing the persuasion affects the degree to which we are inclined to go along with their request.
Liking is comprised of several parts, all which have an effect on the persuader’s degree of liking. Physical attractiveness, similarity, compliments, contact and cooperation as well as conditioning and association all play a role in how much we are going to like the person and, subsequently, how persuasive they are.
The persuasion principle of similarity has perhaps been the biggest contributor to Apple’s marketing success in the past.
Creatives, such as designers and artists, most likely appreciated and identified with Apple’s ‘Think Different’ advertisements from 1997 that featured prominent celebrities from the past, such as Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart and Pablo Picasso. The notion of similarity was played with strongly in this branding campaign.
People we like can range from our closest friends to complete strangers that we are attracted to.
This explains why we trust word-of-mouth recommendations from our peers, as well as stuff endorsed by our favorite singers, actors, social media influencers, or bloggers. Partly also why influencers are quite potent — we follow them because we like them.
Technique #6: Consensus
People are more inclined to perform a set task or action when they see others doing the same thing. When an individual realizes they are not the only one doing something, they’ll likely feel fewer inhibitions about the action. It not only puts them at ease, but it can reassure them that they are making a good decision.
People pay attention to what other people are doing, both consciously and unconsciously.
They will choose the crowded restaurant over the nearly empty one, even though they’ll be served more slowly. That’s why bloggers trumpet their popularity when they ask you to subscribe. It’s not to feed their ego (at least not entirely); it’s to provide social proof that they are delivering information of great value.
People rely on social cues from others on how to think, feel, and act in many situations. And not just any people, but peers.
So if you wanted to influence your interns or a particular team in your department or the new hires, you need to get one of them to buy in first. When they see an employee like themselves seemingly taking action on their own or following a new directive, they are more probable to follow suit.
Social proof offers us validity and feasibility for our decisions.
Validity reduces our uncertainty when making a choice. If others have done something before us, it must be okay. Social proof also offers evidence of feasibility, that something can be done because others have done it before you.
Especially when they are uncertain, people will look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their own.
We are influenced strongly by others based on how we perceive our relationship to the influencer. For example, social proof on web copy is persuasive if the testimonials and recommendations are from authoritative sources, big brands, or peers.
The principle of social proof is a way for people to make decisions quicker and with less mental effort involved.
It doesn’t take much to notice that in most social groups there is a high level of groupthink. Someone mentions an idea, and everyone just goes with it — even if they all disagree with it. When making a decision, people look at what their peers do, and act in a similar fashion.
Technique #7: Foot In The Door
Another approach that is often effective in getting people to comply with a request is known as the “foot-in-the-door” technique. This persuasion strategy involves getting a person to agree to a small request, like asking them to purchase a small item, followed by making a much larger request.
The foot in the door principle means that prior to asking for a big favor, you should ask for a smaller one.
By first asking for something small, you’re making the individual committed to helping you, and the larger request acts as a continuation of something technically already agreed upon.
Foot In The Door is everywhere from politics to non-profit.
A political candidate might ask people in attendance at a rally to wear a pin to promote his campaign. Later, he might ask them for a campaign donation. A group of women may agree to a short health survey, and later agree to breast cancer screening.
A salesperson may use the foot-in-the-door technique.
By engaging in ‘small-talk’ with a prospective customer, they might ask whether they need help finding a product. Once a person is engaged in a conversation, they may find it more difficult to turn down a request for a larger commitment, such as taking the time to watch the demonstration of a product.
The success of this technique lies in the fact that a rapport or a bond is created between the persuader and the subject once the subject agrees to the initial request.
Thus, when the second, more difficult request is made, the subject feels obligated to go along. The reason this happens is because the subject reasons with himself that by agreeing to do these tasks and helping a friend or society, he is being a good, responsible person. Thus, when the requests start piling on, he does not seem to have a choice but to go along because his positive self-image is threatened if he does not.
In online marketing, you can see the application of this technique in sign-up forms.
Asking for an email address is the first small request, pitching them with a product or service via email is the next bigger request. If they say yes to the email address, they will likely say yes to the pitch.
An understanding and skilled use of persuasion are often the keys to success in both your working and personal lives. If you give people what they want, using the aforementioned seven persuasion techniques, they will most likely return the favor.
You don’t need to attend any fancy sales courses or get your M.B.A. from Harvard in order to learn how to persuade people.
In fact, you already know how to do it. You have been using these seven most persuasive techniques your whole life. These principles are powerful because they bypass our rational minds, appealing to our subconscious instincts.
With these techniques of persuasion, sales and marketers alike are better able to attract new business, while retaining current clients.
Many companies rely on just one or two of these principles to sell. But if you can manage to use all these principles, I guarantee your skill in sales will become that much more effective.
Mastering these principles will enable you to maximize your abilities of persuasion. Use them the right way, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Ever used any of these persuasion techniques? How do you use these principles in your selling or marketing routine? I’d be really interested to hear about your results in the comment section below!