The Six Levers of Influence


Persuasion is part science, which means that by studying the data, you can become more influential and even a better salesperson.

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence, has studied the concept for decades and has identified six ways that you can leverage your power of persuasion.

They are Reciprocity, Authority, Social Proof, Commitment, Liking and Scarcity. To remember them, think “RASCLS.”

1.  Reciprocation
This tried-and-true method of persuasion is as old as dirt. It’s completely transparent to the recipient, meaning everybody knows the trick is being used, yet they engage almost every time. Think about the nice lady in the supermarket who offers you a piece of meat or cheese and how difficult it is to return the toothpick to her without engaging in conversation or at least commenting on the morsel.

2.  Authority
Be careful when projecting authority.  No one likes a know-it-all and scare tactics only work a small percentage of the time. One of the easiest ways to project authority is to teach the other person something they don’t know. The trick is to do it in a way that doesn’t seem like you’re lecturing or trying to teach a lesson. Try using an “incidental credential,” by casually mentioning a relevant statistic. This will often establish you as a proxy authority, if you are familiar with the stat and the other person is not.

3.  Social proof
Robert Cialidini coined the term, “social proof” a long time before social media was born. Most of us learn of this influence lever in high school when we come to know “Jessica Jones” as the most popular girl in school. The logic, however flawed, is that since everyone in school likes Jessica, you will/should, too!

4.  Commitment as arranged through consistency and congruence
The classic commitment is a signed contract, but verbal agreements work well, too. It also helps to get that verbal agreement in the presence of third party, although you should not try to ambush the prospect in front of folks as this can backfire. Commitment is best arranged by dovetailing with established values and goals. In other words, people are more likely to attend your charity event if they are charitable and like to attend events.

5.  Liking
A key Facebook interaction, of course, is the ability to “Like” a photograph, a post, or whatever. It turns out that this goodwill, however, ethereal and shallow, counts for something. Be pleasant and agreeable whenever you can.

6.  Scarcity
There’s an old axiom in sales: People want what they cannot have. This closing technique has been used so often that most of the language is cliché:

–        Offer limited

–        Time is running out

–        You must purchase within 48 hours

–        Offer ends on Sunday

–        Only 10 seats still available

Clichés may be tired and trite, but many of them still work!