Using persuasive power to win more customers (part 1)

Every sales professional or business owner wants to win more customers – and not only for a one-time sale.  It is important for us to know the major influences when people make buying decisions. In order to increase sales, we need to leverage these influencing factors for our businesses.

In his best-known book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr Robert Cialdini lists down 6 key principles that are essential to persuade.  They are:

  • Reciprocity
  • Scarcity
  • Authority
  • Consensus
  • Commitment & Consistency
  • Liking

What do these mean in practice?  I will write about the first three in this article.


(Image by OpenClipart-Vectors licensed under CC0)

The old adage of ‘Give and Take‘ never really gets old. We are all wired to appreciate when we are treated well and feel obliged to return the favour. A small token in the form of a gift or a favour compels people to respond positively.

(Note: I am not encouraging you to bribe for the business.)

People who have benefited from a free and unexpected gift or service are more likely to listen to a sales presentation, donate to a cause, or even tip the person waiting on them in the restaurant more. When I get ‘small extras’, I want to reward them with repeat business and a good review on the internet.

This explains why the often-used free samples technique is so effective. Depending on your nature of business, you can use this technique in the form of introductory offers, special seasonal offers (Hari Raya specials?), free samples, free tasting, free tours, free nights stay, free e-book downloads, or free use of online tools with an incentive to upgrade to the premium version. It also increases brand loyalty among your customers.

This is why Dr Cialdini described this method as ‘Give and Take . . . and Take.

An experiment cited in another book by Dr Cialdini,  ‘Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be More Persuasive’,  demonstrates this principle with the sticky note.



(Image by Maklay62 licensed under CC0)

“Limited time only!”     |   “While stocks last!”   |   “Offer ends in 3 days!”  |   Limited edition.

Do you see these often? It’s the Rule of the Few put into practice. Businesses use them frequently because it’s very powerful. Perceived scarcity generates a demand for your product and services. In the basic economic theory of supply and demand, the value of something increases when there is less of it.

Some of us can remember the Old Coke/New Coke campaign in 1985.   During the blind tests conducted prior to the launch of New Coke, results show that the New Coke is preferred. However, once Old Coke was totally removed from the shelves, it created a scarcity and nobody anticipated the aggressive reaction from their customers.   Was it a total marketing failure on the part of the company, like some observers have said? I don’t think so, although it was not intended.

You can merge reciprocity with scarcity successfully – “Free gift while stocks last” or “Download this e-book in 7 days and get a free assessment.” We see it all the time because it works.

Please remember your customer’s meaningful experience with your products or services is a priority. They won’t care about your special offers if your product or services are of no or little value to them.


We are not talking about ruthless authority. We are socially conditioned to respect and trust constructive authority, whether it’s legitimate or perceived.  You can see many businesses using this technique:

(Image by eommina licensed under CC0)

  • Toothpaste companies use dentists in their advertisements
  • Powdered milk companies have someone dressed in a white coat in their TV advertisements
  • Detergent companies use a male voice-over, which is deemed more authoritative due to its lower pitch
  • Talking dogs and cats in pet food advertisements!  (they are the experts on pet food, after all)

For some industries, authoritative titles, dressing well, speaking and writing well, and/or even owning an expensive watch lend credibility to a sales professional/business owner. However, this cannot carry you very far, if that is the only thing you do. You need to back this up with real expertise, quality products and services, and provide true value to customers.

Use authority to inspire confidence and credibility. When people are not sure, they look to experts to help them decide.  You can incorporate testimonials, awards from recognised authorities,  and your company’s experience to help persuade your customers. In my Consultative Sales course, I highlight that YOU are also the expert who customers rely on. If you are a sales professional, your customers want to know if you are also a customer of the company.

When Dr Cialdini first wrote his book, the internet and social media did not exist. Increasingly, your potential customers are relying on reviews on the internet and social media platform. Your existing customers have become the credible experts. Their testimonials carry more weight in today’s business environment. If you get a good review, thank them. If you get a bad one, respond quickly on how you are improving in those areas.

Businesses need to live up to their claims. Sales professionals need to engage and understand the customer needs in order to meet their expectations.

I would like to hear from you on ideas these 3 principles have given you. For example, if you are in the wellness industry, the principle of reciprocity may have given you an idea to give free blood tests.  Tell me by leaving a comment at the end of the article. 

[Stay tuned for part 2. I will be writing Read Part 2 on the other 3 principles: consensus, commitment and consistency, and liking.]

About the Author: Gina Phan is a consultant and trainer with Zinfinity Consulting. She currently conducts courses in business communications, leadership skills, consultative sales and consults in library automation. Click here to contact her or follow her on Facebook.

Read her other posts.


(Feature image at the top of this article is by Michal Jarmoluk, licensed under CC0)

#sales #persuasive power #marketing #business success  #gp

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9 thoughts on “Using persuasive power to win more customers (part 1)

    • Hello there,

      Thank you for your encouraging words. And I am glad you enjoyed reading this. And thanks for sharing it with your followers.

      Work was put on hold due to a recent international travel. I will be posting a new article soon.

      Cheers! Hope to hear from you again.

  1. Recently bought a bunch of led bulbs on sales. Sales is for 7days while stock lasts. I missed the previous similar sales months ago as stocks ran out on 1st day. So I bought more than I need this time round coz I know stocks will run out within the first day. So went there early and grab them. Scarcity.

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