9 Tips to Becoming a Jedi Master of Persuasion – Scientifically Proven to Drastically Improve Sales and Influence

chairCome on in.

Shut the door behind you and walk carefully to my beautiful, soft and plush chaise lounge. Lie down on that gorgeous ox blood velvet.

Cross your legs if you want to.

Now that you’re relaxed, concentrate on the ticking of the metronome that beats in time to the rhythmic sound of my voice. You’re getting sleepy.

Soon, you will do everything that I tell you to do…

pendulum3… 2… 1… zzzzzzzzzz…

Is this what comes to your mind when you think of someone who might have the power of persuasion over you? The kind of nightmare where honesty and integrity somehow watch from the sidelines as a dark and sinister snake oil salesman takes your sweet little ol’ grandmammie for everything she’s got?

Why is that?

I know that is what I have always tended to think- like there must be some sort of voo-doo involved when it comes to influencing people. Does Tony Robbins come to mind? I’ve always wondered about that guy (just kidding, Tony).

It turns out there’s really no “magic” about it; but, more like actual science. Studies upon studies have been performed proving that certain persuasive techniques are and can be valid, but should only to be used in ethical ways.

Ethical, you say?

Yes, ethical. Why? Because when these tools are used in dishonest ways or by artificially importing the principals of social influence into situations in which they don’t naturally exist- any short-term gains will almost invariably be following by long-term losses. Or, in other words- IT’S NOT WORTH IT. All dishonesty is uncovered eventually and the results can be disastrous for you, your reputation, your finances, or worse. So, just don’t do it, okay?good

Besides, why do something dumb and wrong, when you can just as easily do what’s right and help other people?  Not only that, some of the studies that I’m going to post about are not only scientifically rigorous, but also fun! I like fun. But, I had to bring up the ethics warning for a reason. That reason being: people can be influenced. And, there are some really nasty people out there. People who will take advantage of other people and that’s NOT what I am about, nor would I ever DREAM of promoting dishonest or disgusting behavior. This post is about utilizing persuasion tools that benefit both parties- tips and tricks that grow a business AND help other people.

I want this post to be fun. And, I think it’s going to be! Learning all that I did made me involuntarily do a few things; some of them being, but not limited to, my eyes popping out with near disbelief (in some cases), I said, “Hm” (a lot), and believe it or not, I even chortled a few times.


There are 50 scientifically proven ways to be more persuasive documented in Noah Goldstein’s, Steve Martin’s and Robert Cialdini’s awesomely crafted and compiled book that shows us detailed studies uncovering a series of hidden rules for moving people in your direction (and beyond!).

I can’t reveal all fifty of them as much as I would like, however I can share with you my very own top ten. I was blown away by all of them and I wish I could talk about each one, but time does not allow it. For now, it will just be a few. And, I promise you’ll like them.

The first one, I don’t plan on personally using, but it’s so… out there, I couldn’t not post it and thought it deserved first prize. So, without further ado, here are my favorite top 10 tips to becoming a Jedi Master of persuasion:

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1.   To become more persuasive with any audience you may be standing in front of, first slip them 1,3,7-trimethylxanthin, a perfectly legal drug.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, it’s not. It’s true. And… I’m going to save explaining this one in detail or last (just to keep you reading). Stay with me till the end and I’ll explain.

gas2

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2.   How a simple question can significantly increase support for you and your ideas.

a-surveyLet’s say you’re thinking about doing a charity run for our favorite nonprofit organization, but you don’t want to sign up unless you are fairly certain you’ll get a lot of donations. Asking family, friends, coworkers whether they think they’ll donate will not only give you an idea of their initial support for your undertaking, but will also increase the likelihood they will donate should you decide to join the run.

To rephrase it another way, let’s say you are a small business owner and you want to know how likely any particular people would be willing to purchase from your store. You might ask them through whatever medium, i.e., phone, email, in person FIRST how likely they would be to purchase something from our shop. If they say that, yes, they would be inclined to do so; it increases the likelihood that they will purchase something from you in the future.

For more information on this particular research click HERE.

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3.   Discovering THE ONE WORD that you can start using today to increase your persuasiveness by more than fifty percent.

machineBehavioral scientist Ellen Langer and her colleagues decided to put the persuasive power of this word to the test. In one study, Langer arranged for a stranger to approach someone waiting in line to use a photocopier and simply ask, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” Faced with this direct request to cut ahead in the line, 60 percent of the people were willing to agree to allow the stranger to go ahead of them. However when the stranger made the request with a reason (“May I use the Xerox machine, _____________ I’m in a rush?”), almost everyone (94%) complied. This kind of boost may not seem very surprising. After all, providing a solid reason for the request justifies the asking to jump ahead. Where the study gets more interesting is when the experiment goes on with the stranger using this word along with an excuse that is completely meaningless. Guess what? It generated nearly the same elevated levels of compliance!

What’s the word? Because.

The word gets its persuasive power from the continually reinforced association over the course of our lives between because and the good rationales that typically follow.

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4.   Life is like a box of… crayons?

crayonsResearchers Elizabeth Miller and Barbara Kahn noticed an aspect of crayons and countless other products, and sought to better understand how kinds of differences in product names influence consumer preferences. Ambiguous names, such as ‘millennium orange’ (versus green, blue, red or plain ol’ orange) prompt consumers to try to discover, in the absence of any meaningful information, what the makers of the product were trying to convey with that name. This also leads consumers to think about the positive aspects the company is trying to highlight with the name.

Names that fall into the unexpected descriptive category or the ambiguous category create a sense of mystery and intrigue that leads potential customers to consider the positive aspects of your goods and services.

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5.   Avoid driving your cross-cultural influence into the ditch.

globeIt’s weird to think of myself as a woman of international influence, but as an online business owner who works worldwide there are situations in other countries that I’m just plain ignorant about. There’s two terms that I learned through this book and they’re “individualistic” and “collectivistic”. In an experiment by Petia Petrova, students who were native to the United States were the former and students who were Asian international were the latter.

What this means is that when asking an American for a favor, you are likely to be more successful if you point out that it fits with what that person has done before. But when asking a favor of people from more collectivistic countries, the research suggests that you will be more successful if you point out that it fits with what that person’s peer group has done before.

When it comes to advertising, in the U.S., it is a better practice to appeal to a person’s “individuality” and what makes them stand out. Whereas, in collectivistic countries, advertising should appeal to the reader’s sense of responsibility to the group- i.e., “There’s a more exhilarating way to provide for your family.”).

Of course, this all depends on what type of business you run. For me, as a clothing proprietor, I’m not sure how clothing can benefit a whole family, however it has got me thinking about what I can enhance when I market my items and what I may need to change in my advertising strategies to better suit my international audiences. And, that my friends, is something I never thought about before!

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6.   The one small step that can help your influence take one giant leap.

footIn cases in which a business can’t secure even a small initial product purchase, this commitment- and-consistency-based strategy is called, “the foot-in-the-door”. For example, potential clients who are reluctant to use your service may be more include to do so if they’re first asked to take a small step, such as agreeing to an initial ten-minute appointment. Similarly, a marketing research department is more likely to get people to answer a large number of survey questions by first asking them if they’d be will to answer a brief survey.

As one astute sales expert advises, “The general idea is to pave the way for a full-line distribution by starting with a small order… Look at it this way- when a person has signed an order for your merchandise, even though the profit is so small it hardly compensates for the time and effort of making the call, he or she is no longer a prospect- he or she is a customer.”

This one gave me all sorts of ideas. The basis of this is reaching out to just land something small. Then you grow from that. I know that the mainstream thought process is to shoot big- not necessarily. You want to build relationships. Sometimes those take some time. But, the point, is to get out there, start with SOMETHING (no matter how small) and grow from there.

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7.   How offering a “free gift” with a client’s purchase can actually hurt your business.

sadWhen you offer up a gift and actually write out the numerical value of $0.00- it’s not really a message you want to send to prospective customers about the worth of your products. The gift is free; hence, it must not have any value. Of course, as a business owner the gift if not free to you, but it’s how it can be perceived by your audience. And, if it’s worth $0.00, you might be inadvertently driving business away.

So, no longer should your message read, “Receive a free security program.” Instead, it should become, “Receive a $250 security program at no cost to you.”

Personally, I can think of a better rephrasing, but I think you get the idea. Who knew that people actually view a free gift as something of no value?

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8.   Offering your customers too many options can make them frustrated.

angrySheen Iyengar and Mark Lepper examined whether the damaging effect of offering too much by setting up a display at an upscale supermarket in which passersby could sample a variety of jams that were all made by a single manufacturer. Throughout the course of the study, the researchers varied the number of flavors of the jams offered, so that either six or twenty-four flavors were featured at the display at any given time. The results demonstrated a clear and astonishing difference between the two conditions: Only 3 percent of those who approached the extensive-choice display actually purchased any jam. Contrast that with the 30 percent who bought jams when they approached the limited-choice display. When so many choices are made available, consumers often find the decision-making process frustrating, perhaps due to the burden of having to differentiate so many options from one another in a attempt to make the best decision.

A worthwhile exercise would be to review the extent of your product portfolio and ask yourself the following question: where we have customers who may not be clear about their requirements, might the number of choices we offer be causing them to seek other and potentially few alternatives elsewhere?

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9.   Give to others. Not just once, but twice. And never twice at the in the same moment.

giveThis tip is in reference to wait staff- which I’m not currently, but I used to be and boy, golly do I wish I had known this! I’m sure it can be used in principal with anything, but I’m flummoxed at the moment for how it can help me now. I thought it was interesting nonetheless. If you can think of how it relates to business, please feel free to share! I’d love to know because it would make me happy.

One study in a restaurant demonstrates that there are three major factors that help make a gift or favor more persuasive and as a result are more likely to be reciprocated. The first is significance. Giving diners two candies compared to one had the effect of increasing tips from 3.3% to over 14% because two seemed significant, however tips increased to 23% when diners were given candy in a particular way. How it worked was the waiter gave one piece of candy to each person at the table. They then turned away from the table, signaling that they were leaving. However, before exiting the area completely, they turned back toward the diners at the table, reached into a pocket, and placed a second piece of candy on the table for each diner. Through this gesture, it was almost as if they were saying, “…oh, for you nice people, here is an extra candy each.” From 3.3% to 23%!

What can you do to make your appreciation known that is more significant and more thoughtful?

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9.   All right. Here we are. Are you dying to know what that “perfectly legal drug” is? Have you guessed it?

gasIt’s caffeine. You were probably thinking you needed to go into stealth mode with some sort of noxious gas and secretly pump it into the conference room, weren’t you (guilty, here). The object being any presentations you make should be made to people who are most alert and never right after lunch. But even if you can’t choose the time of day to get before some people to market your new product or slam-dunk that deal, having coffee or caffeinated tea on hand should make your audience more receptive to your message (being aware though, that it takes around 40 minutes to take full effect). Of course, as research suggests, this strategy is likely to be effective only if your arguments are genuine, thoughtful, and well-reasoned. If they aren’t, caffeine is likely to have no effect or, worse still, there’s possibility that caffeinated audiences will be more resistant to your poorly reasoned arguments that a noncaffeinated audience.

So, there you have it. Those were my favorite. The great news is that there is SO MUCH MORE than what I’ve listed here- there’s FIFTY scientifically proven ways to be persuasive! Fifty! All backed by research and scientific studies done. You’ll be amazed at even how some types of marketing can actually backfire and influence people to do the opposite of what they’re trying to convey (for example, at the Petrified Forest National Park their posted signs actually increased theft of the petrified wood in the forest)!

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I can’t recommend this book,Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive enough. It has put more tools in my marketing arsenal than I ever dreamed possible. It has helped me reconstruct certain phrases that I thought were increasing traffic when in all reality, was probably driving it away. Truly, it’s been invaluable and I’ve been implementing these strategies from the get-go. There’s even a section is the very back that details actual case studies and feedback from people who have done these techniques in real life (mediation firms, anyone?). I was intrigued and motivated- I wished the book wouldn’t end. It’s an easy read and funny, to boot!

–Joy

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