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Tech Sales: 'Influencing' Prospects Without Being a Pest

January 29, 2015
By Rory J. Thompson - Web Editor


They’re the stuff of caricatures and comedy: Salesmen (most always men) who keep pestering prospective clients so much that clients will go to absurd lengths to escape. It usually makes for funny TV or films, but in real life, not so much. Is there a way to break the ice and make the sale without also making a pest of yourself in the process?


Technology writer Allison Tetreault recently took a closer look at this phenomenon. In a blog she posted on business website Business 2 Community, Tetreault related how an annoying personal trainer in a gym kept pestering her until she agreed to look him up the following week. While he walked away convinced he’d made a “sale”, her perspective was less flattering. Is it possible your team is doing the same when cold-calling prospective customers?

In her blog, Tetreault cites a classic book, “The Psychology of Persuasion”, and relates how the author’s lessons are still valid today. Author Robert Cialdini lists what he calls the six “Principles of Influence”, and they may well have validity for today’s sales team:

Reciprocity: It’s the Golden Rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated. We generally aim to return favors, pay back debts, and buy from people who perform kindnesses. In B2B sales reciprocity is pretty much front and center: for a bit of your time, I will tell you about a system that can improve your time management tenfold.

Commitment (And Consistency): Cialdini states that once we’re deeply committed to doing something, we’re more inclined to actually go through with it. It just makes sense. We all crave consistency. While garnering commitment is kind of the point of sales prospecting, you can help the process along by being consistent yourself.

Social Proof: This principle is rooted in the idea of “safety in numbers.” If other people are doing it – and other people are liking it – then it must be okay. This principle is also most helpful to those who are wavering in their decision, and they’re more likely to be influenced by seeing the successes of people just like them.

Liking: We’re more likely to be influenced by people we like. Employ this principle in sales by getting to know your customer inside and out: studying your buyer personas, building good rapport with prospects, and becoming a more active listener.

Authority: Cialdini says that we feel a sense of obligation to people in positions of authority. In the marketing and sales community, “experts” and “gurus” abound, but only the truly influential make great thought leaders. When influencing prospects use the authority of others and the authority of numbers to make your point.

Scarcity: Finally, scarcity is the idea that things are more attractive when their availability is limited. This is easy to implement in B2C: limit the stock availability or create special editions of products.

 



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