Empowerment selling through persuasion

July 1, 2001
John O'Malley
John O'Malley

John O’Malley is the president ofBirmingham, AL-based Strategic Visions Inc. He can be reached at jomalley@mindspring.com or (205) 995-8495. Visit Strategic Visions online at www.strategicvisionsinc.com.

Pharmaceutical Representative

Aside from helping the prospects and customers succeed at what they do or want to do, salespeople are most interested in one specific behavior change: compliance to a request. In generating a positive response, six basic tendencies of human behavior take the stage: reciprocation, consistency, social validation, liking, authority and scarcity. The more of the six following persuasion influencers a salesperson uses in his or her presentation and selling approach, the greater his or her chances of closing the sale:

Aside from helping the prospects and customers succeed at what they do or want to do, salespeople are most interested in one specific behavior change: compliance to a request. In generating a positive response, six basic tendencies of human behavior take the stage: reciprocation, consistency, social validation, liking, authority and scarcity. The more of the six following persuasion influencers a salesperson uses in his or her presentation and selling approach, the greater his or her chances of closing the sale:

Reciprocation -

What goes around comes around.

One of the essential tenets of human conduct is reciprocity, the code that obligates individuals to repay in kind for what they have received. Reciprocity also applies to concessions and favors. Reciprocity is a level of indebtedness we feel toward those who give us something.

Consistency -

People are creatures of habit.

Most people have a desire to be, and appear, consistent to those around them; after all, we are creatures of habit. Customer loyalty is a type of consistent behavior. Getting the prospect or customer to make a verbal commitment, however insignificant, will likely direct his or her future action. Next to asking for the business, salespeople need to ask for commitments that move the customer nearer to closing. Getting the prospect to make a verbal commitment in his or her office is a form of public commitment and works wonders toward closing a sale.

Social validation -

United we stand; divided we fall.

With few exceptions, humans are social animals, searching not only for human companionship but the companionship of those who are similar to us. We tend to want to do what our peers are doing; peer pressure is a strong persuader. Testimonials, research and facts are great at advancing the sale by providing social validation (doing what other people are doing, believing in the same thing and wanting the same products and services). The more a salesperson can validate his or her product and service from the prospect's perspective, the greater the chances of getting a sale.

Liking -

Human bonding before business bonding.

People like doing business with people they like. Research has shown that familiarity with a salesperson increases the chances that a prospect will buy. Celebrity spokespersons are used for just that reason; familiarity generates sales. Research has also shown that a salesperson's appearance greatly contributes to his or her success, as do similarities with the prospect and customers. The importance of praise cannot be overlooked when selling. Smart salespeople look for opportunities to honestly praise the prospect.

Authority -

One who projects authority will command the situation.

People rally around those who appear to be in charge, display an authoritative appearance and behavior, and exude confidence. A salesperson needs to project all three traits without overpowering the prospect. Dressing for success is really a way of making a power statement of self-confidence, and if you are confident, the prospect is more likely to believe in you, your company and its products. Appearing to have authority is the next best thing to having authority. Act like you are in command and others will follow. Salespeople need to take command of the prospect's situation, learning his or her interests and providing an enhancement or solution that is acceptable to the prospect or customer. Industry leadership brings with it authority about a product or service.

Scarcity -

Supply-and-demand economics.

A great deal of evidence shows that items and opportunities be-come more desirable to people as they become less available. Scarcity applies to both items and information. Making an item scarce (limited in time or supply), and the information about that item proprietary in nature (for example, from an insider source or special report), will significantly increase a salesperson's selling success.

Most people have a tendency to repay favors, behave consistently, follow the lead of peers, favor requests of those they like, heed legitimate perceived authority and value scarce resources. Those companies and salespeople who ethically exploit these key human characteristics will make major inroads to improving their selling skills and success. PR

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