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Dr. Robert Cialdini is a pioneer in the science of neuro-marketing or influencing behavior through neuroscience. In his seminal book Influence Dr. Cialdini outlines the six principles of influence:

  • #1 Reciprocity – If you do someone a favor, they will feel a social obligation to say yes! That’s why charities send return address labels to millennials who say, “how do I stick these things into my email signature.”  Years ago, Hare Krishnas, use to hand out flowers at Airports before asking for donations.
  • #2 Scarcity – People want what they can’t have. Things that they feel are unavailable because of high demand. In fact, that’s why I only have a few coaching slots left open. Call now, while they last, operators are standing by, or press that little green button on the bottom of this post before someone takes the last valuable and scarce slot.
  • #3 Authority – We like our Doctors who display their diplomas from reputable universities. We like business coaches who have real-life CEO experience and formal coaching training. Write a book and people accept that you’re an expert. Proudly display a fellowship you’ve been awarded and you gain respect.
  • #4 Consistency – According to Cialdini, when a person makes a decision they tend to continue actions that support that decision. In one study of a safety campaign people who were willing to hang a small card on their front door that urged drivers to drive slow, were more likely to allow the placement of a big ugly sign on their front lawn than people presented with the big sign as an initial ask. This is why salespeople like to get their customers to start agreeing to little things until they get to the big YES.
  • #5 Liking – People like to do business with people they like. One way for you to avoid falling into this trap is to hang things in the office that you hate!  For instance, if you hate cats, hang pictures of a cat all over your office. Then when the salesperson strikes up a conversation about loving cats… you won’t feel bad throwing him out of your office. Warning, don’t let your dog visit your office.
  • # 6 Consensus – Cialdini found if hotels left a little card in the bathroom urging people to save the environment by reusing towels, 35% of the people would comply. Yet rewording the sign to say, “75% of people who stay in this room reused their towels,” resulted in a 26% increase.  Hey if everyone who stays here reuses their towels, who am I to go against the crowd? This is why McDonald’s brags about how many people haven’t died eating their “hamburgers.” When you’re in a strange town, with no yelp access, do you dine at the little dive with no cars parked out front or McDonald’s with their “Umpteen Billions Served” sign?

Cialdini’s newest book, Pre-suasion, unveils the seventh principle. What is it?

  • #7 Unity – Unity is similar to #5 only stronger. It’s a strong kinship for belonging to a particular tribe. I’m cool, I’m an iPhone user… I’m a nerd… no really, I’m a nerd, I’m team Android. It’s Prius Drivers waving at other Prius drivers and being a Jersey guy, or a Texas gal. When you shop in downtown Columbia, SC, many of the shops have “Go Cocks” signs. Not because they’re perverts but because they are trying to attract University of South Carolina students, alumni, or fans. These fans want to support shops that support their Gamecocks. It’s also why none of the shops in Columbia that have never been burned to the ground due to arson ever displayed a “Go Clemson” sign.

Putting it all together

My buddy Skippy, who use to read this blog and comment on it and make me laugh and who I am told is still out there somewhere, use to argue with me that sales is to science like creationism is a science. He would argue that sales has as much in common with science as Papa John’s Pizza has to real Pizza (people from Joisey know the difference).  Sales is a science just as physics is a science. Sales is mathematical… Make 1000 contacts, get a certain number of leads, which turn into a certain number of orders. Want to change the odds? Want to increase the conversion rate of contacts to orders? Learn the neuroscience of influence. Read Cialdini.

Want to discuss neuroscience and the science of influence? Want to know how to apply these principles to leadership, sales, relationships? Why don’t you try a coaching session? I’m an executive coach and I help people figure out what to do and then hold them accountable to do it. If you are looking for a coach, try a no-obligation, complimentary, online coaching session. There are only a few slots left and then there will never ever be any more available… so hurry and press that little green button to schedule your session now before it’s too late!

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