Want Sales? Offer Less! And Other Influence Strategies

September 18, 2013 by Bill Bradley


Title: Everything you ever wanted to know about influence!

Competencies: influence skills, negotiation skills, persuasion skills, oral communication skills, listening skills

Who benefits: anyone seeking to improve their ability to influence others in any set of circumstances; especially useful for those in sales and marketing

Consultant Usage: influence is a critical competency in the marketing and selling of services; important in all coaching situations; excellent material for training instructors in communication and management training

What’s it about? One of the excellent by-products of taking several online free university programs is being exposed to interesting and important resources. This has been especially true in my Social Psychology course. Today I am going to take advantage of my “student status” to recommend two extremely helpful books which focuses on influence and related skills.

The first of these books is Influence by Robert B. Cialdini, a professor at Arizona State University. This is a 5th edition of the book, so it has stood the test of time. Dr. Cialdini must be a delightful chap with a great sense of humor. In “About The Author” he says he got interested in this subject matter growing up in an Italian family in a Polish neighborhood in a historically German town (Milwaukee) in an otherwise rural state. Yep, might need some influence skills.

If you are interested in the subject matter, one of the best reasons to invest in the book (and yourself) is his writing style. He writes an engaging narrative that makes it both an easy and fun read. But don’t be fooled. He knows his stuff and there is ample evidence of his and others’ research. It is the best of both worlds for a book reader.

You can gain a sense of his humor and his writing style just from the chapter titles. Here are some samples:

“Weapons of Influence”
“Reciprocation – The Old Give and Take … and Take”
“Social Proofs – Truths Are Us”, (which includes a very humorous section entitled “Monkey Me, Monkey Do)
“Liking – The Friendly Thief”
“Scarcity – The Rule of the Few”

If you prefer a more traditional summary of what is in the book, Professor Cialdini suggests six keys to having impact with others: reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity. This is one of the best books on influence I have come across.

The second recommended book from my online class is Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive. Normally I am turned off by words like “50 scientifically proven…”. But in this case I will make an exception. I forgive the authors because of how well written the book is, and even more important, how well organized it is. I recommend the book to you for a very practical reason. Guess how many chapters the book has? Yes, you guessed correctly – 50! Each chapter is 4-7 pages long and stands alone. You can scan and skip. Go only to the chapters that promise to delight you.

Here are six of the 50 chapter headings to entice you into another book investment:

“How can inconveniencing your audience increase your persuasiveness?”
“How can a simple question drastically increase support for you and your ideas?”
“How can we show off what we know without being labeled a show-off?”
“What can a box of crayons teach us about persuasion?”
“How can technology impede persuasive progress?
“How can you avoid driving your cross-culture influence into the rough?

There is a lot packed in 220 pages … and a lot to like. And unlike many books, you can just hop past those parts that aren’t of interest to get to what you want. I think the authors deliberately did this to influence you to buy the book. Did it work?

Catch you later.

Bill Bradley (mostly) retired after 35 years in organizational consulting, training and management development. During those years he worked internally with seven organizations and trained and consulted externally with more than 90 large and small businesses, government agencies, hospitals and schools.

Posted in Leadership Development

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