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Win more business with these 4 powerful persuasion techniques

Jun 26, 2017

benjamin-child-17946.jpgAs a broker, you spend most of your time trying to get people to say “yes” to you—so what if you could get more “yes’s” with almost no additional effort? Today, we’re sharing four simple but powerful persuasion techniques that can have huge payoffs:

  1. Always say please, thank you, and “because."

What’s the magic word? Your parents taught you that it’s “please,” but behavioral scientists would say it’s “because.” Why? Because adding this simple word to a request increases the chances that you’ll get a “yes”— no matter what reason you give after the “because."

In one study, researchers had a stranger approach people waiting to use a photocopier. When the stranger said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” only 60% of people let them jump ahead in line. But when they said, “May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” almost everyone (94%) said yes. 

Here’s where it gets weird, though. When the stranger said, “May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?” almost as many people (93%) agreed. Even though “because I have to make copies” is a completely meaningless reason (who doesn’t?), the word “because” seemed to give it an air of legitimacy.

Remember that the next time you’re out there drumming up business. Just adding a simple “because” to your request can get you the “yes” you’re looking for.

  1. Compare apples to apples.

When prospects ask about your track record, don’t talk about your biggest deals. Instead, highlight the work you’ve done for companies like them. It may be irrelevant to the deal itself, but people still love knowing that you’ve done business with those who are like them. It’s easier for them to think, “OK, if businesses like ours had good results with this broker, then this could be the right choice for us, too.” 

Why does this work so well? Because social proof is a powerful persuasion tool. But it’s even more persuasive when that proof comes from people who are similar to us. Psychologist Robert Cialdini and his team illustrated how this works by changing the wording of the “towel reuse” cards found in hotel bathrooms. They discovered that positive social proof (like saying that other hotel guests had opted to reuse their towels) increased participation in towel reuse programs by 26%. But when they altered the wording to say that guests who had stayed in the same exact room had reused their towels, participation went up even more, to 33%.

That may seem nonsensical—after all, what do you really have in common with guest who had previously stayed in your particular room?—but thanks to the quirks of human psychology, any similarity is better than none at all.

  1. Ask in person.

Email is so easy, it may seem like a no-brainer to send an email blast when you’re trying to drum up new business. Yet the research tells a different story: it turns out that requests delivered in person are 34 times more successful than those sent via email. In other words, taking the time to meet with six people is equal to sending an email blast to 200.

This is exactly why the most successful brokers get out there, shake hands, and make real connections with real people. They understand that easy isn’t the same as effective. 

“It’s often more convenient and comfortable to use text-based communication than to approach someone in-person,” write the researchers, “but if you overestimate the effectiveness of such media, you may regularly—and unknowingly—choose inferior means of influence." 

  1. Be generous. 

We love it when people swoop in to help us out—whether it’s introducing us to a valuable contact, passing along useful market info, or simply offering expertise with no strings attached. But because of the rule of reciprocation, we also feel compelled to return the favor.

Cialdini points to the link between dinner mints and tips. When servers give each guest a dinner mint after a meal, their tip increases an average of 3.3%. But when they hand out one mint per person, momentarily turn to leave, and then add another mint as if to say, “Here’s an extra, just for you nice people,” tips skyrocket by 20%. People sense that they’ve received something “extra” (even if it’s a simple mint) and respond generously in turn.

As a broker, you spend a lot of your time working for free, offering guidance and advice, and helping your contacts be more successful. It’s not for nothing. Approach your work with an attitude of no-strings-attached generosity, and people will respond in kind.

Download 11 Psychological Secrets of Power Brokers

Topics: Best Practices

Irena Ashcraft

Written by Irena Ashcraft

Irena is a freelance writer who works with innovators, educators, explorers, and changemakers. From brave nonprofits to frontier-straddling startups, she helps clients connect with their biggest fans through writing that's fresh, relatable, and fun.

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