The six principles of persuasion

| 05 Dec 2017

There are six "shortcuts" that your brain uses to make decisions faster, according to the book "Influence".

The author Robert Cialdini said that throughout evolution, humans have created these shortcuts to be able to save time on making decisions.

Below is the Six Principles of Persuasion, and how you can use them to be able to gain an advantage:

1) Reciprocity

Reciprocity is the need to give back when someone gives us a gift or do us a favour, especially if the other party does not expect anything in return. Whether we want to give back the same thing (get a gift, give a gift), or give back in another way (get a gift, give a connection), psychology explains that we just don’t want to feel like we owe someone. 

An example of this is when bloggers or website owners provide a free course/book/something fresh on their website in exchange for your email address. You are willing to give up your email address to be able to get the information and get more free information once you’re signed up. 

In getting leads or trying to close a deal, something as little as buying them a cup of coffee or going out of your way to pay the bill for a lunch meeting can help trigger this principle. As long as you do not expect anything in return right away, it is a great tool to have in your belt.

2) Commitment Consistency

This principle states that we unconsciously follow-through behaviour that is consistent to the past.

When people agree on an affirmation about themselves (i.e., I am healthy), will result to them following through with what they have said before. You can also influence someone by having them do something little (liking a Facebook page) to something bigger than what they previously committed to (sharing that Facebook page to family and friends).

You can use this principle by asking for small things from your client, like having them fill out a survey about life insurance, to helping you get leads based on their answers to the survey.

3) Social Proof

There is safety in numbers, and principle number three supports it. It states that humans, whether they realise they’re doing it or not, tend to do what others are doing. We often buy products we’ve seen other people use, merely because they’re proof that it’s a good product and they didn’t suffer using it.

Authors usually mention how many copies they’ve sold, bloggers show on their website how many people are visiting per day and so on. It is merely the power of numbers as we see that if others have done it, you can too.

You can take advantage of this by using reviews from previous clients, showing a portfolio of the number of clients you’ve had in the past with their stories, or just showing how many other people have signed a deal with you. 

4) Authority

The fact that we’ll do anything for a person once we establish that he/she is an authority is the basis of the fourth principle. Whether it’s because we saw their diploma or they’re in uniform, we instantly want to please authority when we see them.

We easily trust the doctor who will tell us to take any medicine, or immediately pull over once a police tells us to do so. As a society, we obey authority to avoid getting into trouble and getting scrutinized by the rest of the community.

You can also use authority by associating yourself with people who are higher up the food chain and being in their circle.

When in a client meeting you can mention your company’s clients who are well known or even simply show successful people who trusted you with their insurance.  

5) Liking

For this principle, a little compliment can go a long way. Liking states that we usually want to work with or be surrounded by the people we like. We are more likely to be influenced if that person is already our friend or someone who has similar interests or goals. 

People invest in making themselves look relatable and someone who is likable. Instagram profiles are filled with creative biographies of themselves to hopefully influence whoever is checking their account to hit “Follow.”

For this principle to work, you would need to invest in getting to know the client a little bit better, and have them get to know you. That way once you ask them for something, it’ll be easier to sway them rather than doing a cold ask.

6) Scarcity

The final principle is focused on the fact that we continuously want things that might run out or we might miss out on. We want to buy that “limited edition” copy of the book or grab the “today only” sale at the mall. Even when we didn’t need anything.

We often give more value to something that is one of a kind. The less there is of it, the more we want it.

By telling your clients of a deal, they can only get within a certain window or by letting them know that you’re not sure when a package will be available again, you are using scarcity to up your game.


So there you are, the Six Principles of Persuasion. While there’s no getting around professional and sound advice, these six “shortcuts” and secrets on how to hack your way into influencing someone in the right way can hopefully help to nudge your prospect or client along to do what is right for them and sign on the dotted line.

Never miss another article to help you grow your business. Sign up for free and share the link with your colleagues!