Persuasion skills

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Persuasion skills: this article explains the persuasion skills, the psychology of persuasion and influence by Robert Cialdini in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful communication skills tool.

What are the Cialdini persuasion skills?

Would it not be great if you knew how to convince and other people immediately? According to Robert Cialdini, famous psychologist, marketeer and master persuader, there are persuasion skills that help you influence and convince other people.

Apart from having written several books on this topic, he still travels around the world to speak at seminars about these persuasive techniques.

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Persuasion skills: 6 principles

The Persuasion skills that Robert Cialdini mentions to convince other people are very recognizable. When you use the 6 principles that are related to Persuasion consciously, convincing people will be straight forward:

1. Reciprocity

When someone gets help or a present, they are more inclined to reciprocate the gesture. By cleverly handling reciprocity, you will also succeed in convincing the customer. Certain information such as e-books, e-courses will draw extra customers when you deliver this to their letterboxes for free.

Apart from the fact that it is sympathetic to share information with others, it is also a good way to use reciprocity. Classic examples such as Christmas hampers, catalogues and instructional DVDs, still produce reciprocity and customer credibility in customers.

2. Scarcity

Customers prefer a product / service that is exclusive, and preferably at a reasonable price. In the event of an impending shortage, customers have a tendency to hoard. Companies can respond to this by suggesting shortages in number (the last four items), scarcity of time (only three more days of discounts) or scarcity in frequency (this workshop takes place once a year). Customers do not wish to miss the boat and this provides an extra stimulation.

3. Authority

Authority is the third of the Cialdini persuasion skills. A person, who radiates authority, also radiates certain skills and expertise. Experts simply generate more trust in customers that lay people. Therefore it is important for a company to properly indicate what their expertise is and then position this in for example advertisements.

It may also help to profit from the reputation of a well-known expert or personality (name dropping). This can also be achieved by using and propagating a quote from such an expert. Those who wish to radiate personal authority would do well by writing a book themselves.

4. Commitment and Consistency

The challenge is that customers get a step by step confirmation that they have come to the right place. When they are about to make a purchase, consistency will see to it that there is no turning back. “Yes you can trade in your old car now, yes, this car is available in your favourite colour, yes we can transfer the towing hook, yes, the car mats are free, yes, this car has got an A label , yes you will have the car before your holidays“.

In combination with the five other persuasion principles, it will become increasingly difficult for the customer to decide not to go ahead with the purchase.

5. Liking

Liking is the fifth of the Cialdini persuasion skills. No one likes doing business with an unpleasant seller. In order to convince someone, it help to be sympathetic, empathic and attentive to customers and let them know they are appreciated.

This can be done in several ways: regular telephone contact, invitations to special events, sending important or interesting information or giving presents. Furthermore, customers appreciate it when they get the feeling that the seller understands them. Besides, empathy, it is therefore important to contribute ideas and give practical examples.

6. Consensus and Social Proof

Herein lies the great power of word-of-mouth advertising. When customers are positive about a product/service, they, as the users, are the ultimate user group to promote this.

Companies could use this information to their advantage. By referring to compliments made by customers in commercial and marketing messages, new (potential) customers will be convinced to buy the product. Social media, such as likes on Facebook, are also an excellent method to convince other people of the fact that a certain organization has excellent qualities. Today Social proof is an important principle of the Cialdini persuasion skills.

Application of the persuasion skills

Sellers and account managers of both Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) products / services apply the Cialdini persuasion skills to convince their customers.

This mainly involves activation as a result of which customers will proceed to make a purchase (unconsciously). It is not necessary to use all the Cialdini persuasion skills at once; they can be used in small doses during a conversation. By deploying persuasion techniques like the Cialdini persuasion skills consciously, sellers can apply them vigorously.

A good seller remembers what a customer told him when he last spoke to them and will get back to this in a subsequent call (sympathy).

A good seller will always refer to the positive opinions of other users and how successful the product is (social proof) and will then aim at ‘customer credibility’ by offering a free trial package (reciprocity). A good seller always aims at radiating authority by using statements such as “research has shown that”, “the best technicians are at your disposal”, etcetera.

They also aim at the scarcity of the product with which they head for consistency and the customer indicates halfway through the conversation that he really wants to have the product.

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It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Are the persuasion skills and principles applicable in today’s organizations? Do you recognize the practical explanation mentioned above or do you have more suggestions? What are your success factors for applying the persuasion skills?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Cialdini, R. B. (2001). The science of persuasion. Scientific American, 284, 76–81.
  2. Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Influence: Science and practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  3. Cialdini, R. B., Sagarin, B. J., & Rice, W. E. (2001). Training in ethical influence. In J. Darley, D. Messick, and T. Tyler (Eds.). Social influences on ethical behavior in organizations (pp. 137–153). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  4. Kenrick, D. T., Neuberg, S. L., & Cialdini, R. B. (2002). Social Psychology: Unraveling the Mystery. Allyn & Bacon.

How to cite this article:
Mulder, P. (2012). Persuasion skills (Cialdini). Retrieved [insert date] from ToolsHero:

Published on: 10/15/2012 | Last update: 05/19/2022

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Patty Mulder
Article by:

Patty Mulder

Patty Mulder is an Dutch expert on Management Skills, Personal Effectiveness and Business Communication. She is also a Content writer, Business Coach and Company Trainer and lives in the Netherlands (Europe).
Note: all her articles are written in Dutch and we translated her articles to English!


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