I’m fond of saying we do not know the true impact we have on others. I find this to be true for everyone. While we are already more influential than we think, it helps to have a refresher on influence and its core components. These come from Robert Cialdini’s seminal work, Influence, which is a must-read for anyone in sales and marketing.
Reciprocation — When we give to others first, they feel the need to reciprocate, to give back. This is one of the reasons why samples work so well in sales. When you give people things for free, they’re unconsciously driven to want to give back to you. When you buy someone a drink, they feel the need to buy the next round. When you pick up the tab at dinner, people feel grateful for your kind deed and then think about what they can do for you in turn. Gifts work incredibly well when it comes to influence, especially if you’re a good gift giver. If you want to get into someone’s good graces, get them a gift relevant & meaningful to them.
Those in sales and marketing know the power of giving things away first for free before asking for anything in return. Try an hour of the four hour training for free before you decide to buy, see whether it is right for you. Test drive the new web app for 30 days as a free trial. Apple gives its customers a 90 day free trial of Apple Music service before asking for $10.99 per month. People need to try things before they’re willing to buy them. The more free trials / great offers / opportunities for reciprocation you place in front of people, the more often you’ll win.
Likability — We like those who are like us in spirit, attitude, demeanor, and character. We like to be around fun, positive people who contribute and who serve. Likability is the gateway to trust. You cannot trust without liking first. Liking those deemed untrustworthy is incongruent with who we are. After all, if we don’t trust someone, why would we want to hang around them?
Likability might seem rather fundamental, and it is. And yet people struggle with it. They may lack great examples of this character trait in their lives. It may not have been valued in their upbringing. They have difficulty making friends. While this is a struggle for some, it is not permanent. Personality is malleable. You can change it to however you suit. After all, it is your personality. You exude what you choose to exude. You are as you choose to be, the very definition of attitude. We choose to be likable and then act accordingly.
Consistency — We are our habits. They comprise us. They make us who we are. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Thus, consistency in thought and in action is a powerful principle of influence. A powerful cognitive bias we all suffer from is called the Sunk Cost bias, which states in order to remain consistent with what we’ve been doing, we’ll keep on performing a behavior even if we aren’t getting the results we seek. You see this all the time in financial investments. People pour more money into stocks going down (or never sell). People invest money into an old home that’s become a money pit requiring constant maintenance and upkeep. The BMW that you’ve put thousands of dollars of repairs into. All sunk costs, yes, but this is in alignment with past behavior. It is what we’ve done and so we continue to do it.
On the positive side, people like others who are consistent, who show up, who contribute, who act the same every time around them. Consistency breeds trust. Consistency also creates friendship and camaraderie. We want to be around those who take consistent, positive actions. We also want to reciprocate those consistent, positive actions. Being what we consistently do, consistency is congruent with who we are as people, and what we expect of others.
At their core, what do great teams do? They act in consistency and in harmony with one another to accomplish a mission. They take consistent, positive actions toward shared goals that comprise the mission. Without consistency, the team breaks down, the goals are not accomplished, and the mission is scuttled. Thus, its influence.