INFLUENCE by Robert B. Cialdini

Quill / William Morrow 1993. ISBN 0-688-12816-5

Robert Cialdini is a professor of psychology at Arizona State University. He takes the line that modern life is fast and complex and we all use shortcuts (ie don`t think) in resolving what to do.

This very good book shows how salesmen use these shortcuts to increase sales and it is especially interesting as Cialdini left the campus for 3 years to meet the compliance professionals, the sales operators, fund-raisers, recruiters, advertisers, etc. As he says, "They know what works and what doesn`t; the law of survival of the fittest assures it."

On his return he wrote this book, putting what he found under 6 main headings - Reciprocation, Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority and Scarcity.

RECIPROCATION - Cialdini meets a boy scout selling $5 tickets to their annual party. He says "No thanks" and the scout counters with "O.K. Well at least buy some of our big chocolate bars, they're only $1." He buys 2 chocolate bars he doesn't want. As he says, "The second request doesn't have to be small; it only has to be smaller than the initial one."

CONSISTENCY - What those around us think is true of us is enormously important in determining what we ourselves think is true. New Haven housewives gave much more money to a canvasser from the Multiple Sclerosis Association. He points out that, "Apparently the mere knowledge that someone viewed them as charitable caused these women to make their actions consistent with another's perception of them."

SOCIAL PROOF - If you want a 6 year old to do something let him discover another 6 year old doing it. What peer groups are doing is what matters. He quotes Cavett Roberts advice to sales trainees,"Since 95% of people

are imitators and only 5% initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer."

LIKING - The Guiness Book of Records has Joe Girard as the worlds greatest car salesman. He was General Motors best salesman 12 years in a row, selling 5 cars or trucks every day that he went to work. He says that he offers a fair price and someone that they like to buy from (ie. good looking/ good presentation/ flattery/ same as them/ on their side).

AUTHORITY - Cialdini meets Vincent the super waiter. This is how he does it: 1) friendly 2) "I'm afraid that (whatever is ordered) is not as good tonight as it usually is. Might I recommend instead the ......." (a cheaper dish) 3) He seems to them to be friendly, knowledgeable, honest and on their side. 4) "Would you like me to suggest a wine to go with your meals" (excellent but costly and always followed by a similar dessert) 5) They say yes = A bigger bill and bigger tip.

SCARCITY - Stephen Worchel did a cookie experiment and found that cookies with a few in the jar were rated as more desirable than cookies with plenty in the jar. The testers admitted that they tasted the same. As Cialdini says, " The joy is not in experiencing a scarce commodity but in possessing it. It is important that we do not confuse the two." Hence all the scarcity tactics.

So if (a big if) we want to defend ourselves against all this, how do we do it ?

He suggests to remember that the scarce cookie didn't taste better. O.K. but it does look as if at some point we need to be aware and think about what is going on ie. use our "adult brain" in Eric Bernes terminology.

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