Persuasive Sales Negotiation (Part II of III)

The third principle of persuasion according to Dr Robert Cialdini, is the the principle of "Social Proof". This principle states that we determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct. This article follows on Persuasive Sales Negotiation - Part I.

This article follows on from Persuasive Sales Negotiation - Part I.

The third principle of persuasion according to Dr Robert Cialdini, is the the principle of "Social Proof". This principle states that we determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct. The principle applies especially to the way we decide what constitutes correct behaviour. Dr Cialdini states "Whether the question is what to do with an empty popcorn box in a movie theater, how fast to drive on a certain stretch of highway, or how to eat the chicken at a dinner party, the actions of those around us will be important guides in defining the answer."

In our sales negotiation training courses, this principle reminds us of the saying that did the rounds during the 80's - "Nobody gets fired for buying IBM". Usuallly, when a lot of people are doing the same thing, it is perceived by the individual to be the right thing to do, therefore if you bought IBM whilst everyone else was buying IBM, your company would be making a safe investment.

Sales and motivation consultant Cavett Robert captures the principle nicely in his advice to sales trainees: "Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer."

The way we can use the principle of social proof in our sales careers is to offer our customers examples of people and organisations in similar positions to themselves having complied with the particular request we are making of them. The principle of social proof is most effective during times of uncertainty and when similarity is evident. Thus if we are trying to assist individuals to reach a buying decision, we are clearly advised to ensure that the examples cited as social proof are similar to the target audience in as many ways as possible.

The fourth principle of persuasion concerns "Liking". Clarence Darrow said "The main work of a trial attorney is to make a jury like his client." Very few of us would be surprised to hear that we like to say yes to the requests of those people whom we like.

Dr Cialdini cites a wonderful example of Joe Girard, who specialised in using the liking rule to sell Chevrolets. He became very wealthy in the process, making over $ 200,000 a year. With such a salary, we might guess that he was a high-level GM executive or perhaps the owner of a Chevrolet dealership. But no. He made his money as a salesman on the showroom floor. He was phenomenal at what he did. For twelve years straight, he won the title of "Number One Car Salesman": he averaged more than five cars and trucks sold every day he worked and he has been called the world's "greatest car salesman" by the Guinness Book of World Records.

For all his success, the formula he employed was surprisingly simple. It consisted of offering people just two things: a fair price and someone they liked to buy from. "And that's it", he claimed in an interview. "Finding the salesman you like, plus the price. Put them together, and you get a deal."

Let's explore some of the features and factors that influences overall liking by another person. The first feature is physical attractiveness. Research has proven that attractive people are more persuasive both in terms of getting what they request and in changing others' attitudes. A second factor influencing liking and compliance is similarity. As people, we like people who are like us, and generally speaking we are more likely to say yes to their requests than to others who are not like us. Another factor that produces liking is praise. Although they can sometimes backfire when crudely transparent, compliments generally enhance liking and as a consequence, compliance to our requests.

When repeated contact takes place under positive circumstances, liking is facilitated. Finally, a fifth factor linked to liking is association. By connecting themselves or their products with positive things, advertisers, politicians and merchandisers frequently seek to share in the positivity through the process of association.

Some of the things that we can do practically to leverage the "liking" principle is to ensure that we build relationships with our customers under positive circumstances. Furthermore, ensure that you have "similar" people serving your customers - companies have known this for a long time. It is much more effective employing local sales professionals when opening a foreign branch office than it is to send sales professionals from your country or culture to service the needs of customers from a different culture. Cite the association that your company has with positive things, such as your sponsorship of charitable events, the track record of successful delivery that you have worldwide etc. Finally, when due, offer compliments and praise to those whom you are dealing with. As always, be mindful of the ethical and moral considerations associated with trying to gain influence. We know that anything that is not sincerely meant is better not being said or done, as this will almost always backfire on us and put us in a worse position than we were in before the engagement.

Next month we will examine the final two principles of persuasion and influence and provide you with a summary and checklist of actions to utilise the principles in your sales efforts.

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III]

Reader Comments

Average Rating:

Total Comments: 0

View or Write a comment

Back to Negotiation Articles

Please feel free to share this article by republishing the contents of this page in part or full. All that we ask is you include a regular link back to this site, preferably to our page.

Reader Comments

Average Reader Rating:       Comments: 0

share your comment

No comments

Negotiation Newsletter