How to Employ Cialdini’s Principles of Influence at the Right Time

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Too many people start a sales conversation with scarcity instead of starting with the principle of liking or creating social proof. Should there be timing around some of the principles? In Brian Ahearn’s book, “Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents,” he looks at the sales process. He covers which principles are most effective at each point of the sales process. So what could—or should—you start with?

Authority, likability, and social proof

When you are prospecting to potential clients, they’ll want to know that you have expertise. They’ll want to see that other people are benefitting from what you do. Brian notes that you can apply correctly if you frame what you do as something different—something they can’t get somewhere else. That’s how you set yourself apart.

But as you work through the sales process, you need to constantly be focused on, “What’s the goal?” The first meeting is about building rapport and relationships. From there, you can leverage giving and reciprocity. You can even share an article someone might enjoy. It costs nothing for you to do, but it shows you were thinking of them and that you understand them. They may start to feel like they want to do business with you.

It’s almost guaranteed that someone will NOT do business with you if they don’t like you. That’s why the relationship aspect is so important. Brian believes that one of the most enjoyable aspects of being in the business arena is the friendships that he’s built. He still calls and spends time catching up with people he worked with during his time in insurance.

Getting to the “yes” by asking great questions

Who are you walking to? What are you trying to accomplish? Where are you in the sales cycle? If Brian had to step back and look at the sales process, he would say that consistency is the most important principle to embrace. Why? Obviously, you have to get your prospects to commit, right? Brian believes that you can accomplish this by asking questions. Good salespeople only talk 25–35% of the time because they understand the value of asking good questions. Yet, most people equate salespeople with being “chatty.” They’re probably not very good at what they do.

Asking great questions elicits information that can inform your giving, help you share the right examples of social proof, and make you more likable. But if you ask the right questions and someone says “yes,” they are more likely to do what you need them to do in the sales process. It’s never about telling them that they have to do something.

Deal-making and rationality

Many people have the preconception that the person/people they’ll be negotiating with will be rational—which isn’t always the case. How can you deal with that? First, Brian shares that you must understand immediately that people do not make decisions rationally. The science is clear on that fact. Don’t expect your prospect to say “that makes sense” when you logically present information. They have other things that may be holding them back.

Someone may like you a lot. Perhaps you handled all of their objections like a pro. But they’re hesitant to sign the deal. Why? Maybe the last time they made a switch, it flopped. They had buyer’s remorse. You need to understand that and help people overcome those things. The only way you can do that is by bringing those concerns to the surface.

If you get to the end of the conversation, you can say, “If you’re like other customers, I’m sure you’re feeling hesitant right now. Maybe you made a decision in the past that didn’t work out. I’d like to talk about that because it looks like so far, you really like what I’ve presented.” Address it so you can talk about it versus hoping it doesn’t surface.

Salespeople understand that people don’t make logical decisions—that they buy based on emotion and justify the decision after the fact with logic. That’s why you need to learn about and employ these principles right off the bat. Learn more about how you can apply Cialdini’s principles of influence to the sales process in episode #242 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast!