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 Sales Negotiation principle states that we determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct

Principle of Social Proof

According to Dr Robert Cialdini, the third principle of persuasion is called "Social Proof". This principle asserts that the manner in how we determine what is correct to find out what other people think as being correct. The principle applies especially to the manner in how 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, we remind clients who are old enough to remember the saying from the 80's - "Nobody gets fired for buying IBM". Generaly, when many people are doing the same thing, it is seen by an individual to be the right thing to do. So, if you bought IBM when everyone else was buying IBM, your company would be making a sound investment.

Sales and motivation consultant Cavett Robert reflects this principle clearly 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 manner in how we can apply the principle of social proof in the sales processs is to give our clients examples of similar people in companies who complied with ther request we are making of them. We remind clients on our negotiation training courses that social proof is especially effective during times of uncertainty and when similarity is evident. So, if we are attempting to help individuals who are deciding to buy, we should ensure that these examples that we cite as social proof are similar to the target audience in as many ways as possible.

Principle of Liking

The fourth principle of persuasion concerns "Liking". Clarence Darrow stated "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 enjoy saying yes to requests made by people whom we like.

Dr Cialdini provides a wonderful example of Joe Girard, who specialised in using the liking rule to sell Chevrolets. He became very rich in the process, making over $ 200,000 a year. With such a salary, we might wonder whether he was a high-level GM executive or perhaps the proprietor of a Chevrolet dealership. The answer would be neither. He earned this income as a salesman on the showroom floor. He was an awsome success at what he did. For twelve consecutive years, he won the title of "Number One Car Salesman". He sold an average of more than five cars and trucks every day he worked. He has been described as the world's "greatest car salesman" by the Guinness Book of World Records.

For all his success, the formula he applied was surprisingly simple. He offered 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 examine several of the causes that affects overall liking by another person. The first feature is physical attractiveness. Research has shown that comely people are more persuasive both in terms of getting what they asking for, and in changing the attitudes of people. A second factor that impacts liking and compliance is similarity. As people, we prefer people who are more like us. Generally speaking, we are more likely to agree to their requests than to others who are not similar to us. Another factor that produces liking is praise. Although issuing praise can sometimes backfire when obviously transparent, compliments generally enhance liking and as a result, people comply to our requests.

When repeated contact takes place under positive conditions, liking is facilitated. Finally, a fifth factor affiliated with liking that we can leverage in our negotiation skills is that of association. By joining themselves or their products with positive things, advertisers, politicians and merchandisers frequently strive to share in a positive environment through the process of association.

Several things that we perform to enhance the "liking" principle come through building relationships with our clients in a positive environment. Additionally, you must make certain that you have "similar" people serving your customers. Companies have known this for a long time. It is more effective to employ local sales resources when opening a foreign branch office than it is to relocate sales resources from your home base to service the needs of clients from a different culture. Emphasize how your company associates with positive things, such as your sponsorship of charitable events, the track record of successful delivery services that you have created worldwide etc. Lastly, and when appropriate, offer genuine compliments and praise to those whom you are dealing with. As always, be careful about the ethical and moral considerations associated with trying to gain influence. We all know that anything that is not genuinely expressed is better not being said or done, as this will most certainly backfire on us and put us in a worse position than we were in before the engagement.

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

Part I   [Part II]   Part III

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