by Brad Roderick

This is the second in a three-part series on how to help other people obtain their needs and achieve their goals by influencing how they think and the actions they take (aka, “How to get people to do stuff”). In the last installment we listed four general ways to get others to do the things that we need them to do. 

Those four things are:

  1. Power
  2. Payment
  3. Negotiation
  4. Persuasion

After covering Power, Payment and Negotiation previously, the final two installments will delve more deeply into persuasion as a tool for influencing the thoughts and actions of others. Disclaimer: Much of my comments about “influence” and “persuasion” are based on the works of Robert Cialdini, Regents’ Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University. If you want to go into greater depth, his works in this area are exhaustive. If you are looking for a five-minute read that gives you enough insight and specific action items that you can begin applying today and build on over time, keep reading below.

  1. Reciprocation. I just finished a couple of days at a conference for C-level business leaders.  The organization that puts these conferences together is top-notch in everything they do. Best-practice speakers. Best-practice topics. Best-practice facilities. And best-practice “recruiting” (prospecting). At the end of the last day, just before the sessions close and people escaped, each of the members were asked to provide names of potential new candidates (prospects). After two days of great content and value, what do you think is going to happen when they ask me to help them? Absolutely. Why? Because they helped me first! And I owe them. You see, we are wired to reciprocate. We want to pay people back. We want to help those that help us. There is a reason that your rep’s travel and entertainment budget includes lunches, dinners and such. But I need to caution some of you, the old days of “take ‘em to lunch and remind them that they owe you” is dead. It died some time ago. For “reciprocity” to be maximized, give a lot of value BEFORE you try to extract anything. The more you give, the more likely you will receive …  as long as you don’t make it an expectation or requirement (either said or unsaid). “You do something for me and I will do something for you. Quid pro quo. You wash my back, I wash yours.” Turn these into “Here, let me do something for you” and don’t require anything in return. The “returns” will come.
  2. Consistency. I have to confess (if I want to tell this story) that recently I ordered one of those thingies that you see on TV. It happens sometimes when I am traveling and can’t sleep. It also explains how one family could end up with two Jack LaLanne juicers. I called the 800 number to place my order and lickety split, they handled it perfectly. “Mr. Roderick, thank you for that order. We know you are going to enjoy your new product. Mr. Roderick, as a thank you gift for ordering today, we would like to send you at no cost to you a ____________. Is that ok, Mr. Roderick?” Well, it is free. Of course it’s OK. Are you hearing what is happening here? They are leading me. They have me agreeing and they will keep asking me to agree (say, “yes”) until I stop. This is “consistency”. Most of us do not like to be seen as wishy-washy. We want to be seen as consistent. This is why we need to consider the sales process to be a process of momentum where one step leads to the next to the next, etc. This attribute that most of us share is the reason we say, “Once I get them buying something from me, I can expand in the account”.
  3. Social Proof/Conformity. If you have ever used a testimonial, you have engaged social proof or conformity. The less information we have to make a decision, the more we will rely on what others are doing. Take a moment to look at all of the on-line reviews for just about anything and you will see how we look to others to help us make a decision OR to validate that we have made a good decision. I recall walking through a mall recently and noticing all of the kids with caps turned sideways and pants hanging past their … well, you know the picture. Since my kids are past that age, I had to chuckle a little. Here is a group of young people so bent on not conforming to society’s standards that they created their own, which in turn, is actually conformity. “John, from what you have just shared, it sounds a lot like a situation that Fred over at ACME was going through when I first met him. Let’s get you two together and see if he can give you some insights.” Insights into why I am the right solution of course. For those of you more “mature” sales pros, this is the old, “Feel, felt, found” model. “Nobody ever got fired for buying from IBM.”

Until we meet again in Installment 3 in this series, can you leave a comment about how you have used persuasion tools to influence someone to do what you wanted them to do? I would greatly appreciate it and owe you a favor. Besides, all of the cool people are doing it. 

Read the rest of the series:

Part 1

Part 3

Brad Roderick is executive vice president of InkCycle Inc. He is an industry veteran with more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience. He is an active member of the imaging industry as an author, trainer and speaker focusing in the areas of industry trends, strategy, sales and marketing, and environmental sustainability.