Have you always wondered why some people have the ability to get someone to say Yes and Act or have people want to do things for them not out of obligation but genuine care. These aren't abilities these men and women were born with. Theses are learnt skills we observe, practice and by osmosis take on as we mimic the behaviours and characteristics of others we see that we admire.
Among all the books on persuasion Cialdini is one of the most well known and there are some very good books out there on influence. I'd recommend reading Geoff Burchs Irresistible Persuasion, Fascinate by Sally Hogshead or Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith. They all offer unique and expansive views on influence.
I decided to tackle Cialdini because it has been so ingrained in our culture. Its visible in our everyday observations and holds timeless principles that you can apply in your key customer conversations today. Here are Cialdini's 6 influencing principles you can put into action from today in your customer conversations.
It's better to give than to receive is it not? well my mother definitely tried to tell me that and I remember thinking she was crazy as an 11 year old holding a pack of hard earned candy and glass bottle of Dr Pepper in my hand on a Spring day.
"Share it then! my mum would say" reluctantly I shared out my candy but with a smile at the park and obviously made some new friends. Weeks later I saw the same kids again and this time they were inviting me to parties and asking me if I wanted anything from the shop. Reciprocation in action.
I carried this same principle of giving from a place of abundance and not lack into my client conversations. I proactively look for ways to give not because I think it will come back but because I know it will be paid forward.
What I mean is this. The unseen power of reciprocation in your customer conversations is you invest into your future relationship. Reciprocation will show up in your client acting on your behalf without you knowing, decisions will be made faster and negotiations will be more collaborative.
Big Idea: Look for opportunities to give.
COMMITMENT AND CONSISTENCY
No one wants to be seen as someone who goes back on their word. Its the reason contractual agreements can be such a personal and hard fought process. The fear of over committing and not being able to fulfill your agreements is a strong motivator for self preservation and an activator for positive action. It's been proven that when you can get someone to commit verbally to an action, the chances go up sharply that they’ll actually do it.
It's important to know that the power of commitment and consistency doesn't come just because someone says it. It comes out of an emotion.
I was once in a client meeting that had been scheduled a month before. A week before the meeting I called up to ask if they perceived any potential challenges that might prevent us from making decisions on the agenda we had. I asked them about the outcomes and results they wanted to see from the meeting and if they would confirm they wanted this in the agenda.
I sent it back to them with those concerned in the project to let them know where we were. Now we were all in it together. The commitment of going back was much higher but the results of going forward were much stronger. Within 90 min we wrapped up a $250K deal.
Big Idea: The key to effectively using commitment and consistency outside of the obvious contractual agreements is to look for the emotion of loss and the vision of gain. Then look for incremental activities that build on long term positive actions.
You can see it everywhere and in most conversations. For right or wrong we look for validation and confirmation that what we're doing is correct, accepted and OK. It happens with the best of us. Social proof is part of an innate need to be apart of a tribe and to be like others. There is a lot of validity in wanting to do so and in many cases it can encourage greater collaboration and understanding.
Social Proof can also be a block to your client conversations particularly when a situation is uncertain or your client is under pressure and not sure what to do.
It's in those moments that you're client is looking not for solution but safety. The safest way out is doing what others have done or what has worked for them in the past. When you can show your customers what others like them believe or are doing, people are more likely to take the same action.
In sales we know this. We share testimonials we mention the names and industries of people that are like our customer to reduce risk and increase certainty. Here is the key. For this to really be effective most of the time the example needs to match or exceed expectations of the concern or goal of your customer.
Big Idea: Take your time in your next customer conversations to really understand what social proof they need. What is the concern and goal then pick the example that matches or exceeds those things.
People want to do business with people they know, like and trust. We know this. So why do so many people experience as much rejection as they do even from their own customers.
People liking you gets you one level of movement but doesn't finish the job. Don't get me wrong if you're someone who is likable your more likely to get a yes, they will agree to meet with you and probably tell people about you which is the best compliment you can get.
Two of the most powerful likability tactics is flattery and attention. In other words say things nice about others and shut up most of the time. Most peoples favorite topic is themselves. Not necessarily out of vanity but because of the confidence bias that's triggered even when what you've said may not be 100% accurate about them. They'll believe the positive and associate you with it.
Big Idea: Don't make it about you make it about your customer and practice the number one strategy of the most likable people 'listening'.
How many of us grew up hearing the phrase 'respect your elders' or unconsciously observed the unwritten behavioural rules of addressing those in more senior positions with a different courtesy and respect. Those are just some of the hallmarks of Authority. Just like it was noted in Cialdini's book people will often assume a bias of a person based on their title, reputation and the behaviour of others around them. Policemen, Doctors, Politicians, Celebrities carry different levels of influence of Authority.
Some people are more strongly influenced by authority than others, and compliance can vary according to the situation. But its important to know that we all respond to and make assumptions based on authority including your clients. This is why having a relationship with the most respected and senior person in the room gives you more compliance than not.
Big Idea: Authority matters and you can build it. Your physical presence and dress makes a difference. Show up dressed to impress as they say. Where appropriate look to bring people of equal titles and stature to client meetings where you know their title and credibility match. You want to completely eliminate any possible feeling of risk with you as a person. Outside of that be proactive about building your authority through reputation. Be intentional, look for ways to connect with those with great reputation in your clients business. Build your personal reputation through the value, insight and results you deliver for your customers. You will start to grow your influence.
Nearly everyone is vulnerable to some form of the principle of scarcity. Opportunities seem more valuable when there is less of that thing available. Hard-to-get things are perceived as better than easy-to-get things.
We use this in sales often and we see it in marketing ads and you know what the sign that says 'only 5 left' works. Doing this authentically and with integrity is what matters. You can't say there is only 5 left then sell 10 tomorrow.
Nevertheless scarcity is very powerful. To activate this principle you can refer to limited resources and time limits to increase the perceived value and benefit of taking action. The possibility of losing in many cases is a more powerful motivator than gaining something. They call this The 'towards and away' principle.
Big idea: Scarcity for your key customer relationships will be different to others. Your's might be the availability of a particular person, it might be availability of supply for a particular month. Proactively look for scarcity opportunities that are genuinely linked to a greater benefit to your customer. Why? if they take that offer and win they'll be more likely to take a bigger offer next time.
The Six Weapons of Influence are incredibly powerful and can be combined in many ways. Pick one today and let me know how you get on.
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Founder of the Key Account Hack System - New Key Account thinking that transforms customer relationships and creates predictable sales growth.