4i Newsletter Masthead 339

Principles of Persuasion.

fouri 339 Persuasion

I’ve written before of how my former marketing agency was commissioned to create the training materials for Professor Robert Cialdini’s company and delivered all the materials for the “Principles of Persuasion” workshop.

This was significant for me as I got to learn first hand from one of the two world authorities on how to use the 6 key “weapons of influence” in ways that are both ethical and effective.

Last week, on a webinar for the Innovation Collaboration Group, I was asked how to convert more leads to become clients and gave a short summary of the methods Bob taught me. These are perhaps even more important and valuable during this “awkward bit in the middle” between the old and next normal so I hope this refresher is useful.

You might find it useful to score yourself against each of these, perhaps 0 for never using the technique to 10 when you’re a Jedi Knight of the use of the principle.


We are more likely to listen and pay attention to an expert than an amateur. Unfortunately, saying “I’m an expert” doesn’t cut it, however if you can get someone else to introduce you as such, then it raises your credibility – even if it’s a colleague.

For example, “Mrs Smith, it’s Peter from Future Property Services, a quick courtesy call to confirm that Julie, our number one Property Marketing Expert, will be visiting you at 2pm this afternoon. You’ll be in very good hands, Julie has sold 511 properties in the area over the last 4 years, she’s the best in the business.”

Cialdini has proved that this works in estate agency which was the subject of one of his many experiments.


We like to do business with people we like. According to scores of experiments, the key to being liked is to find something to like about the other person NOT to try and be likeable yourself. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can be obnoxious, however what people like about others is when they show genuine interest in them, their issues, their dreams. That’s why 80% of the conversation should be about them, not you.


We want it more if we can’t have it or it’s hard to get. Tickets to Glastonbury. A table in the hottest restaurant in town. The VIP line at the club when there’s an hour long queue to get in. These and many more examples illustrate how powerful the use of scarcity can be. However, in an attempt perhaps to deliver a perceived better customer experience, amateurs will make themselves available on demand, they don’t create any sense of exclusivity, they allow themselves to become commoditised.

Social Proof

This is liking on steroids. You walk down a busy street in a tourist resort where there are 10 different restaurants that all broadly look the same, offer similar menus and prices. Which one do you pick?

Typically, the busiest one, “all these other people must know something we don’t.” This is perhaps the most used of all the principles, or rather it’s the one that many latch onto with their market share stats and other claims that at best are effective but all too often come across as bragging.

Again, the key is to have others communicate for you and whilst testimonials are useful to have, they are even more powerful when made outside of your environment and on a client’s own Facebook page. PR has always had a value of 10-20X greater than advertising, (there are exceptions but this is again a proven rule).


The principle of giving without asking for or even expecting something in return. Bob Cialdini describes people who give with a condition attached, (“If you do this, I’ll do that”), as “bunglers”! Persuasion experts know that there’s an inbuilt need, for most people, to repay a debt so they don’t have to give with conditions, they just give.

Eventually they will be repaid and often receive something in return that has far greater value. The classic example of this is corporate hospitality – I’ve experienced from both sides how much business can be won or given as a consequence. Indeed, I’ve two companies pitching for a major project (value c.£30,000) in my business right now. One got me tickets to see Led Zeppelin at the O2 in 2007 and if their quote is within the right ballpark then they will get my order, even though I know what they did and it was 13 years ago!

Commitment and Consistency

People often ask how to build trust and this principle is key to it. In simple terms it’s keeping your promises, doing what you say you’ll do. The typical use of this concept is to start small and build. That’s why the “first contact” a prospect client has is so important. If their call is answered properly, their questions thoroughly answered and any promised follow up is delivered on time then the foundations have been well set. By contrast, if they experience what our 60,000 mystery shops have revealed over the last three years when 52% of emails go unanswered and also, almost 1 in 5 telephone calls during advertised open times, then it works in reverse.

All of these principles are boosted by the use of contrast. There are degrees of expertise, likeability, social proof, etc. – you don’t have to be the best in the world, just the best in your world.

Imagine someone who has an expert reputation, who you like, although because others do too she’s not always available, but when she is, her focus is completely on you and she’s generous in giving her advice and follows up on everything she said she would and seems to always appear on your social pages with rave reviews. That someone understands and uses the Principles of Persuasion, she scores highly on each one, how about you?

Phil Hesketh is the other renowned authority on this subject and he will present his latest research at the EA Masters on October 8th. The best price “earliest bird” tickets are on sale now and the best value package works out at under £50 per person – the price goes up after 28th August so get yours now:

Join over 6,000 property professionals, including leading estate and letting agents and receive information, insight, ideas and inspiration (four-i) from top estate agency coach Peter Knight, straight to your inbox every Monday. Join now

Find out more about Property Academy and the services we provide here.

Agree or disagree with the views expressed in this newsletter? Share the article and your views on social media today.

Follow our social channels here: