How to influence customers to buy from you? How to get people to say yes? Let’s try to find some answers to these questions.

Influence is arguably one of the best skills someone can have. It can create relationships, close a business deal and start social movements. The Art of Winning Friends and Influencing People is something invaluable. It’s also a topic that many people are curious about. Maybe you think that it’s something that you are born with. That can’t be learned. Well, influence is a skill and just like any other skill, you can learn it. Through practice, research, and trial and error you can become a master influencer, if that’s what you want to be. If you just want to know the basics about influencing people, there’s a book written by Robert Cialdini called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In this book Cialdini highlights six proven principles that will increase your influence:

1- Liking

“People like those who like them.”

Research has found that people are more willing to say yes or buy a product from individuals who are similar to them. It can go as far as the same background or the same birthday date. People are more susceptible to influence if they discover similar attributes or characteristics even if these similarities have no apparent relevance to the context of the situation. Similarity breeds empathy and liking and therefore increases your chances of influencing someone.

Practical application: “Uncover real similarities and offer genuine praise.”

2- Reciprocity

“People repay in kind.”

By genuinely praising someone or offering them a gift, people will feel they are in debt with you and will most likely reciprocate the same way. It goes back to “treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” If you ever smiled at someone just because they smiled first, you know how this principle works. By offering something first, you are adding value to them, and they will try to repay in kind. Try to offer your customers an extra gift or product and see them coming back and even buying more from you than they previously wanted.

Practical application: “Give what you want to receive.”

3- Social Proof

“People follow the lead of similar others.”

Humans are social beings, and we often rely on people around us to know how to think, feel and act. You are more likely to buy a product or use a service that has a big amount of followers. We know this intuitively. What is even more interesting is that social proof becomes stronger when it comes from our peers. That’s why word-of-mouth marketing is so powerful.

Practical application: “Use peer power whenever it’s available.”

4- Consistency

“People align with their clear commitments.”

If you can get someone to make a voluntary commitment to something, he will be more likely to do it. This principle becomes stronger when an individual makes a commitment in public. People like to stay consistent with their responsibilities and self-image. This concept applies to the point of views an individual has on an issue or a commitment to an event.

Practical application: “Make their commitments active, public and voluntary.”

5- Authority

“People defer to experts.”

When the news presents a point of view of an expert, public opinion has been shown to shift 2%. Another research saw the number of patients complying with the exercises prescribed by a physician, increase 34% just by displaying all the doctor’s awards and diplomas on the wall. Don’t assume others will know you’re an expert, show them!

Practical application: “Expose your expertise; don’t assume it’s self-evident.”

6- Scarcity

“People want more of what they can have less of.”

Exclusivity and scarcity create interest and curiosity. Limited editions, unique opportunities, and exclusive information can be a powerful driver of sales.

Practical application: “Highlight unique benefits and exclusive information.”

These principles are stronger when used together. It’s when they are most effective. So maybe think of a sales proposition or a business presentation that will harness the power of these six principles. It can make the difference between getting a yes or going back to the drawing board. If you want to know more about Influence, see this video by Robert Cialdini explaining the psychology of persuasion.