Sunday, February 27, 2011

Persuasion Elements - Scarcity and Authority

Last week, I wrote a little about two of Cialdini's six elements of Persuasion. This week i will cover two more.

Scarcity - This principle is borne out by Cialdini's research that shows we want what we can't have and that objects, ideas, and information that we believe are rare or unique hold greater apparent value than they would if we believe they are common.

This fact is powerful on its own, but is supercharged when coupled with the perspective that LOSS is the ultimate form of scarcity. That is, we may strive for something that we don't have and think is rare but we will work VERY hard to prevent losing something that we ALREADY have if we feel it will be difficult to replace. Humans are generally more motivated by fear of loss than want of gain.

Implementing this knowledge in a business situation is critical. Stop talking about what your counterpart will gain in an arrangement, and tell them about the valuable things they will lose. this is illustrated in an example in which 50% of potential customers were told that if they insulate their homes better, they could start saving a dollar a day. The other 50% were told that if they FAIL to insulate, they will continue losing a dollar a day. The sales among the customers that were given the 'losing" language was 150% of the other sales from the other customers. 50% more persuasive, even though the amount of the savings was the same! People are more mobilized into action by the idea of losing something. Combining the idea of scarcity with loss language makes for a particularly powerful argument.

Cialdini says. "You simply register what things people might be losing in an arrangement, honestly, and bring them to the surface. When people are reminded of what they stand to lose, they are more motivated to act."

The word "honestly" is important to note. Long term benefits accrue only to those that are credible.

Authority - Another element of persuasion is rooted in the idea that people will tend to obey authority figures. A person can even be persuaded to do something they wouldn't normally do if it is made clear that they will not be held responsible for their action.

The business application for this kind of persuasion is generally made when you are having a hard time convincing people to do something and you are having the hard time because they don't really believe you know what you are talking about. In other words, they do not recognize you as an authority on the subject. Citing authorities or better yet, PRODUCING an authority that will actually endorse your recommendation can help tremendously.

Sometimes, though, people will still hesitate because they are concerned with the impact to them if something goes wrong. You will encounter less resistance if you can assure the person that what you are asking for is just their indulgence to allow you to try the course of action and that you will take responsibility if there is a problem. If they are clear that they will not be held responsible in any way in the event of an issue, they will often step aside and indulge your experiment.

Insist on great business results! Go to Pathfinder Communication

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