Why Do People Say “Yes”? The Psychology of Persuasion


In our last Business Bite, we explored advanced time-blocking strategies to optimize productivity. Today, we'll dive into the fascinating world of persuasion and influence, as outlined by Dr. Robert Cialdini.

Dr. Robert Cialdini, the guru of influence and persuasion, dives deep into this intriguing question in his best-selling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. With 30+ years of research and 7,000,000+ copies sold, Dr. Cialdini unveils six universal principles that can turn you into a persuasion pro, while also showing how to shield yourself from persuasive tactics.

The 6 Principles of Persuasion

The Six Principles of Influence: Key Techniques for Persuasion

1) Reciprocity: The Power of Giving and Receiving

Do you know when someone gives you a gift, and then you feel the need to return the favor? That’s reciprocity at work!

This powerful social norm nudges us to return gifts and favors, often leading us to say “yes” when we might not have otherwise. For example, if a B2B SaaS company offers a free trial or a helpful resource, potential customers are more likely to feel obliged to consider paying for their service, or at least joining a 15-minute discovery call if you ask for one after giving them a resource that helped solve a problem.

2) Commitment: Staying True to Your Promises

People love to stay true to our commitments. Once we make a choice or say we're going to do something, we face internal and external pressures to stick to it.

Whether it’s sticking to a diet you’ve publicly announced or staying at a job because of the time and effort invested, this principle is all about consistency. If an entrepreneur can get a small commitment from a potential customer, like signing up for a newsletter, they are more likely to make a bigger commitment later, like purchasing their product or service.

3) Social Proof: Following the Crowd

Ever noticed how we tend to follow the crowd? Like when you're searching on Amazon and filter the results by highest customer rating, and then scroll down to see the customer reviews? That’s social proof in action!

In uncertain situations, we look to others for cues on how to behave. From ordering the same drink as your friends to jumping on fashion trends, social proof shapes many of our decisions. When potential customers see that other businesses similar to theirs are using a product or service, they are way more likely to try it themselves.

4) Liking: The Influence of Personal Connections

We’re more likely to be influenced by people we like. All things being equal, people do business with people we know, like, and trust. Even when all things (including price) aren't equal, we still do business with people we know, like, and trust. Building rapport and demonstrating a likable personality can increase sales. Factors that enhance likability include:

  • Similarity: We bond with those who share our alma mater, favorite sports team, opinions, or traits
  • Association: Being linked to positive events or people boosts likability
  • Compliments: Who doesn’t love a genuine compliment?
  • Familiarity: The more we see someone, the more we tend to like them
  • Cooperation: Working together towards common goals creates positive vibes
  • Physical Attractiveness: Attractive people often have an edge in persuasion

5) Authority: Trusting the Experts

We tend to follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. That’s why we trust doctors, respect police officers, and take advice from those with impressive credentials.

Advertisers know this well, often using endorsements from celebrities, Hall of Fame NFL quarterbacks, or experts to sway us. By positioning yourself as an industry leader, you can gain trust and influence potential customers. You can apply this by sharing your expertise through newsletters (Hi! Thanks for reading :), webinars, and speaking engagements to showcase your deep knowledge and reliability in their field.

6) Scarcity: The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

When's the last time you felt the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)? The scarcity principle is all about valuing opportunities that are less available.

This is effective in fundraising from investors, marketing your products, and selling premium services. Limited-time offers, flash sales, and exclusive products tap into this fear, driving our decisions and boosting perceived value. You can apply this principle by offering limited-time discounts, exclusive features, or highlighting the unique aspects of your solution that aren't available elsewhere.

Practical Pathways to Persuasion: Applying Influence Techniques

Harnessing these principles can supercharge your ability to persuade. Here’s 1 way to apply each principle:

  • Reciprocity: Create a free resource or gift that you can give to future customers to add value and create a sense of obligation to reciprocate.
  • Commitment: Start with small asks and initial commitments that can lead to bigger commitments over time, such as saying at the beginning of a first meeting, “We'll decide at the end of this meeting if it makes sense to continue the conversation together. Does that sound like a good plan?” Yes…and then another Yes at the end to Book A Meeting From A Meeting!
  • Social Proof: Add a testimonial, case study, or review to your website from a satisfied customer talking about the benefits of your product or service to build credibility and attract new clients.
  • Liking: Invest the first 1-3 minutes of each meeting to build rapport and discuss “what's been your highlight of the past week?” with each other to uncover commonalities and increase your likability.
  • Authority: Highlight your expertise by mentioning your credentials, recent speaking engagements, brand name clients, or industry associations.
  • Scarcity: Use time-limited offers, offer discounts that expire at the end of the month, or emphasize the exclusivity of your product or service to increase its value.

Conclusion: Harnessing the Power of Persuasion

By weaving these principles into your professional interactions, you can influence others more effectively and persuade potential customers to see the value in working together.

Remember what Uncle Ben said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

So whether you're trying to build customer relationships, increase sales, or improve team dynamics, these principles provide a powerful framework for driving positive outcomes. Remember to use these techniques ethically and responsibly, always aiming to create genuine value and trust in your professional interactions.

Podcast: Is a Fractional Sales Leader Right for Me?

I recently had the pleasure of joining Matt Wolach on the Scale Your SaaS podcast. During our conversation, we discussed the definition of a fractional executive, misconceptions about fractional executives, and the tremendous benefits of fractional sales executives to drive growth and efficiency for SaaS companies.

Many leaders think that fractional executives are just temporary solutions, but in reality, they can provide long-term value by building robust processes and mentoring internal teams. Fractional executives bring a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to companies, often delivering results much faster than traditional hires. Effective communication is crucial, and our fractional executives prioritize transparency and collaboration to foster trust and drive results.

Listen to the Scale Your SaaS Podcast

P.S. Whenever you're ready, here's how we can help:

  1. Free Weekly Entrepreneur Roundtables for entrepreneurs seeking advice at any stage to come in with problems and leave with a new lens to examine their business, helpful DIY resources, and potential solutions.
  2. Get Intros to Investors via Malloy's Monthly Deal Flow to share your pitch deck with 500+ investors and super connectors and get at least 1-5 first meetings with potential investors.
  3. Fractional Sales Executives help entrepreneurs free up their time, make more money, and scale their sales engine.
Share the Post:


You May Like