Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B. Cialdini is one of the BEST books on the topic of persuasion and influence that I have ever read (and both a sales and a sales training professional, I have read many)! Cialdini examines two separate yet interdependent sides of the human interaction equation – influence and compliance. It foundationally acknowledges that the pace and complexity of our lives today demands that we ALL adapt by taking “the road more traveled” to interpret what reality represents to each of us. In essence, we define our own reality, but need to do it efficiently, given all the stimulation of our senses from many different directions.
Universally, consumers today use a variety of shortcuts to make the countless decisions – both large and small – that continuously confront us in our daily lives. We use those shortcuts because they are time-tested and usually work as a substitute for the more laborious acts of analyzing and decision making. Taking those shortcuts, however, can make us more susceptible to manipulative behavior and can result in outcomes we’d normally want to avoid – hence the dilemma for those who know and use these “weapons of influence.”
Supported by extensive research, the six weapons of influence (both mass and individual) that are uncovered and introduced by the author are: Reciprocation, Consistency/Commitment, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity. Together they are regarded as the discrete set of behavioral weapons in our arsenal of influence. Cialdini provides a fascinating analysis of these weapons’ effectiveness, but he also heavily emphasizes the need to be ethical in their use. I highly recommend this book as a “must read” for sales and marketing professionals, political professionals and anyone who needs to negotiate with anyone else (that’s just about everybody, isn’t it?).
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