How to Use the Science of Influence to Close a Sale
Whether you’re trying to sell someone a pair of shoes or why they should invest millions of their hard-earned cash into your business, you’re in the business of moving people from point A to point B.
In other words, you’re in the business of influencing.
Think of it like magnetic induction.
Unless you skipped physics classes — or slept through them — you probably know that magnetic induction is the production of a voltage across an electrical conductor in a changing magnetic field.
Your job is to induce an emotion within a person so they take action.
You can use your words.
You can use props.
You can tell a story.
You can give an elevator pitch.
But whatever you do, you can tap into the social science of influencing others as mentioned by the author Robert Cialdinni in his book, Influence.
- Reciprocity = People are more likely to give back to others the form of a behavior, gift, or service that they have received first.
- Scarcity = People want more of those things they can have less of. That’s why offers like, “2 pieces left in stock,” get emphasized on ecommerce websites.
- Authority = People are more willing to follow the recommendations of someone to whom they attribute relevant authority or expertise.
- Liking = People are more willing to buy from people they like.
Once you understand all that, you might want to modify your pitch so it has one or more of these elements. For example, you would build a relationship with a potential buyer and give value to them first — for free — before even attempting to make a sale. However, whatever you say in your pitch must be honest and ethical. For example, you shouldn’t say, “You won’t find something like this in the market,” in an attempt to show that your product is scarce unless the scarcity of the product is true. Nowadays, the customer has more power than they did in the past — thanks to Dr. Google. They also can ruin your reputation faster thanks to social media.
One more thing to remember is that you can influence someone positively or negatively. I’ve had such an experience within one of the members in my sales team whose negative influence impacted the rest of the team. Even though she performed well, she created negative stereotypes about certain demographic segments, and influenced the rest of the team to avoid them. This impacted the team negatively as other sales members wouldn’t approach specific customer segments. However, upon leaving the team, sales went up overall and among the segments she was avoiding.
So whenever you’re getting ready to go out into the market and sell, prepare a sales pitch and try to integrate elements of influence like reciprocity, scarcity, likeability and authority.
Co-written with Amina Islam