Accelerating Business Growth

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

“How effective are you at leveraging the Principle of Authority?”

Today I want to share with you a fascinating principle of influence called Authority.

This is another concept taken from a book called Influence Science and Practice by Professor Robert Cialdini. As always I’ve added my personalisation to it on how you can apply it for yourself in your business.

This is how it works!

Who were Authority figures when you were a child?

Your parents, teachers, friends’ parents, grandparents, policeman -perhaps just a few which spring to mind!

And when you enter adult life – again the same question: Who are Authority figures?

Your boss, still your parents, police, professionals: solicitors, lawyers, doctors, people in uniforms? One person on one of my seminars recently said their partner!

Well – within Authority figures there are 3 factors which can help influence the levels with which people perceive your authority.

Those factors are:

+ Title
+ Trappings and…
+ Clothing

Let’s look at each of these in turn and how you can use this principle for yourself and also in your business.


I’ve never been a great fan of titles as I think you earn respect – no one has a god given right to it. That aside however, your title does make a difference in terms of how you are perceived at the first interaction with a person.

For example when I’m speaking at conferences I’ve tested just saying “Good morning my names Royston Guest from Pti International” and I’ve also tested “Good morning my names Royston Guest, Sales & Marketing Director of Pti International”

Which do you think has greater impact in creating Authority? The second one and you can feel the different atmosphere and how effective my opening is just by using these two different approaches.

Another example: I have a contact who is an Area Manager for a bank. He was in one of his branches a few months ago and a prospective customer walked in. He just happened to be walking across the banking hall and the customer stopped him and said:

“Excuse me can you please help me. I’m looking to change banks for my business. I’m not happy with my current bank and I’ve just been into one of your competitors up the road and I did not like the person I spoke with. Can you help?”

My contact had been on one of my workshops and decided to do something different this time. Instead of just introducing himself by his name he said “My name is John Smith (yes a made up name) and I’m Area Manager for this region looking after 14 Local Business Managers”

He called me that very afternoon saying it was amazing how just by using his full name and title how it increased the perceived authority in that initial interaction with the customer.

So perhaps the first question today and subsequent action is this. Do you and your team have the appropriate titles in order to build your position of authority in the minds of your customers, suppliers and contacts and… do you use your full name and title and even the name of your business (particularly if it is a well known and respected brand) in order to build your authority?


We live in a visual and status driven world and whether we like it or not we are judged on the trappings we have. So what do I mean by trappings? Well, your car, briefcase, day timer, quality of your business card, the thickness of the card, your business stationary and marketing literature. People form snap shot judgments about you based upon these trappings.

I always use this example. Imagine a sales person going into sign up the biggest deal they’ve ever done. They arrive at the point of completing the paperwork and go to their briefcase and pull out the contract. Passing it over to the prospective new client they’re wiping off the jam and bread crumbs from the breakfast table this morning and peeling back one of the corners which has turned over in their full briefcase. They then go to their pocket and pull out their half chewed bic pen and hand it across to the client to sign.

Creating the right impression?

I think not! I’m sure you have the point?

This is not about being flash – it’s about having the appropriate trappings to position your personal brand correctly in the minds of your customers. So perhaps the second action today is to answer the focused question for yourself and your team:

Do you have the appropriate trappings?

And finally…


Well dressed is appropriately dressed! Today it’s not essential to be fully suited and booted all the time. It’s about toning your clothing up or down depending on the person with who you’re meeting and also the environment in which the meeting is taking place.

You can look smart and professional without having to wear a tie!

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “You have to be heard to be believed!”

Well I actually think that is the wrong way around. “You have to be believed to be heard!”

The believability comes first. And your clothing is a key factor in guaranteeing you personally create believability in that first interaction.

So, perhaps the third key action driven from this focused question.

Do you and your team have the believability factor? Driven by your clothing – well dressed is appropriately dressed!


There you have it – another fascinating principle of influence which you can instantly apply and use for yourself and with your team.

Post written by Royston Guest -


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