No matter what business you’re in or what role you play within your company, there are always situations that arise in the corporate world in which you are called upon to sell yourself and/or your product.  This is especially true in the case of marketing, which is all about finding an exciting, innovative, and effective way to convince people that they HAVE to have whatever it is you are selling.  Becoming good at pitching a product, idea, or service takes a certain type of talent that only comes with practice, experience, and a dash of charisma, but these excellent and insightful tips proven through the research of Dr. Robert Cialdini will put you on a shortcut to success.

According to Dr. Cialdini, a marketing and psychology professor at Arizona State University who has become well known for his book entitled Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,  there are six universal factors that greatly influence a person’s likelihood to say “YES.”  They are as follows:


RECIPROCITYIt has been proven that people are much more likely to give a favor when they have already received one from the person in need. It is natural for humans to want to repay any debt they owed and “pass it forward”, so to speak.  For instance, a restaurant study showed that when a small token of appreciation was dropped off along with the bill, such as a mint or a fortune cookie, tips increased by 3%.  Two mints led to a 14% increase in tip, and an experiment in which the waiter dropped off the mints, began to walk away, then proceeded to turn back and give the customers extra mints “for being so nice” resulted in a whopping 23% tip increase. The takeaway: Be the FIRST to give, make sure it is something personalized and unexpected, and watch the tables turn in your favor.


SCARCITYJust as one feels an inherent need to return favors, it is ingrained in human nature to want things that are in short supply. Take the Beanie Baby craze: the fact that little beanbag toys were flying off the shelves was the biggest factor in them being so in-demand—it was amazing the lengths that people would go to in order to get their hands on one of these toys! Sell yourself or your product as a scarce resource, highlighting not only what is unique about your product and what someone would gain from it, but also what they stand to lose if they fail to consider your proposal.


AUTHORITY- Studies have shown that people are always more likely to be influenced by the ideas, suggestions, or orders of credible, knowledgeable experts; for instance, people are more likely to take the health advice of a doctor that has his diplomas and credentials displayed on exam room walls, and they are more likely to obey the orders of an officer of the law if he or she is in uniform. This proven adherence to authority means that you will have better results if you signify and establish your own authority in your field before attempting to persuade someone.


CONSISTENCY- A key to establishing approval of your proposal is to get your target to agree to something smaller beforehand.  For instance, a study found that a neighborhood that had agreed to place small “Drive Safely” stickers in their windows were 4 times more likely to agree to post a large “Drive Safely” sign in their lawn than a neighborhood that had not agreed to post the stickers. Additionally, a doctor’s office that had their patients fill out their own next appointment cards saw an 18% drop in missed appointments. Work on gathering initial small commitments to up your chances of attaining your larger goal.


LIKING- You may have guessed that people are more likely to grant the wishes of people they like. The greater question is how can you make someone like you? Dr. Cialdini says there are three important factors to establishing a positive, meaningful connection with someone: find similarities between yourselves, pay them genuine compliments, and cooperate with them towards reaching future goals.

CONSENSUS-As a norm-conscious society, it is very common for people to take cues from the actions and behaviors of others to determine our own. In this vein, a hotel performed an experiment in which they referenced the behavior of other hotel guests to order to encourage guests to reuse their towels. By putting a card in every bathroom stating that “75 percent of our guests reuse their towels to protect the environment”, the hotel saw towel reuse rise by 26%. A great way to convince someone to do what you want is by pointing out how many others are already doing it.

I hope these helpful tips have persuaded you to change your technique to change people’s tunes!