How to use the ‘6 Laws of Persuasion’

Whether you’re dealing with prospects or employees, most negotiations are won by those who understand – and know how to leverage – these six laws, outlined in Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion:

  1. Law of Advocacy: One strategy that works particularly well in sales and salary negotiations is to introduce a third party whose chief responsibility is to stand opposed to giving the other party what they want. For instance, a salesperson can tell a prospect he’d really like to agree to all the terms outlined, but his manager may not approve. From that point forward, the prospect views the salesperson as an advocate, fighting to get him the best deal possible. Any concessions the salesperson gets management to “agree to” are considered a shared victory. Managers can use the same tactic during salary negotiations, positioning themselves as allies, willing to go to the CEO (or CFO) on the employee’s behalf.
  2. Law of Urgency: Time plays a major role in negotiations – who’s got time to spare and who’s working against it. Top negotiators create a sense of urgency by specifying which terms they’re willing to agree to, then setting a firm deadline, after which the deal is off the table. Employers achieve the same result by telling job candidates there’s a small window of time in which to accept the job offer. That way the candidate (or prospect) needs to make a quick decision rather than leveraging one offer against another.
  3. Law of Authority: Using statistics to establish why you offer the best value on the market simplifies the equation. Rather than negotiating based on price or competition, you’re letting prospects know that you know they’re not going to find a better deal anywhere else. Whether you’re a salesperson or an employer, it’s a way of saying, “You have more to lose here than I do. If you’re not interested in accepting our offer, we’d like to move on to someone who is.”
  4. Law of Social Proof: Credibility is king in negotiations. Most prospects are buying the brand as much as they are the product. Presenting testimonials from best-in-class companies doesn’t only let prospects know the best in the business choose to do business with you, it also makes them wonder if their competitors are gaining an edge by taking advantage of a product or service they haven’t.
  5. Law of Reciprocity: Agreeing to a concession without asking for something in return sets a dangerous precedent where the other party always thinks they’re entitled to something more. It also makes them feel they have bargaining power. Shrewd negotiators establish a quid-pro-quo early on, so prospects understand it works both ways. Before agreeing to a concession it may also be helpful to ask, “If I can get my company to agree to these terms, do you see any other reason you wouldn’t move forward with the sale?” It’s a great way to box the prospect in and move toward closing the deal.
  6. Law of Commitment and Consistency: By getting the other party to agree to all the details first (i.e., those terms you’re sure they’ll agree to), you’re getting them in the habit of saying yes. Eventually, the one detail they’re unhappy with becomes the lone sticking point to completing a transaction that’s 99% done. Gain small commitments along the way instead of looking at the negotiation as an all-or-nothing deal.

Source: How to Use the Six Laws of Persuasion during a Negotiation,” by Edrie Greer, Ph.D.

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