Robert Cialdini is one of our most authoritative and frequently cited social psychologists. He’salso the best-selling author of “Influence:The Psychology of Persuasion” and“Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way toInfluence and Persuade.” Here’s a sample of his practical wisdom.
1. Use the art of pre-suasion.
Before you reach into your bag of logi-
cal arguments, soften up your audience
with an emotional message that gets
them ready for what you really want
to sell. Cialdini calls this technique
He recounts how a consultant who
was having difficulty getting clients to
pay his high fees started his presenta-
tion by saying, “I’m not going to be
able to charge you a million dollars
for this” (though that would have been
ideal). Afterward, he was much more
successful in getting prospects to pony
up the big bucks. That’s because he con-
ditioned them to accept that his service
An online furniture store exposed onegroup of shoppers to website wallpaperof fluffy clouds and another to websiteimages of pennies. The first group lateremphasized comfort in their purchases,while the other focused on price.
The key is to plant a message inprospects’ minds that prepares them foryour offering — even before you makeyour request.
2. Get into the right frame of mind.
How do you get yourself into the rightframe of mind to achieve your goals?
Cialdini says that before we begin our
task, we need to focus on thoughts that
are aligned with the goals that we want
For example, a group of fundraiserswho saw pictures of a runner winninga race consistently garnered 60% moremoney over a four-day period than acontrol group did. Those images put theidea of success into their minds beforethey kicked off their project.
Similarly, a group that worked onan assignment requiring complex prob-lem-solving abilities produced superiorresults by plugging away near a copyof Rodin’s “The Thinker.” That illustration highlighted the value of analytical thinking in their minds before theystarted their work.
3. Follow the No. 1 rule for top
salespeople and learn to establish
instant trust with prospects.
Show clients and prospects that you
genuinely like them. According to
Cialdini, we trust and want to do busi-
ness with people who sincerely seem to
like us. This is a departure from the con-
ventional wisdom of most sales training
programs, which advocate pointing out
similarities and complimenting pros-
pects to get them to like you.
Cialdini says the techniques headvocates are useful in convincing others that you do indeed like them. Hebelieves that it’s critical for you to findthings about your colleagues that yougenuinely like. You can’t be a fake. Andit’s the best way to convince others thatyou think highly of them, he adds.
4. Use the reciprocity principle to
boost your business.
Small gifts can generate big results,Cialdini says. Giving clients and prospects a small present before you ask themto do something can pay off. Even a cupof coffee or a pen can motivate recipientsto respond by doing business with you.
Social psychologists say that we’rewired to be unconsciously motivatedto return others’ good deeds. We feel
RIA LESSONS & LEADERS
By Mark Elzweig and Melanie Waddell
5 Top Sales Insights From Robert Cialdini
The social psychologist and author provides some great ideas on how RIAs
can boost their businesses.