Accelerating Business Growth

Saturday, August 12, 2006

“We all have a desire to be consistent as human beings!”

Our ability to be able to influence and persuade others is critical in all areas of our lives – so today I want to share with you a fascinating principle of influence called Consistency.

This concept is taken from a book called Influence Science and Practice by Professor Robert Cialdini. I urge you to read it – it’s probably the best book I’ve ever read on the subject of influencing and persuasion.

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!

We have the desire to be consistent and appear as consistent human beings – this can work against us and for us.

“As human beings we take actions that are consistent with previous actions”

And… perhaps most importantly:

“We take action based on previously expressed beliefs!”

Everyone uses shortcut decision-making processes in so many different areas of their lives.

For Example…

Let me share with you some fascinating information from Cialdini's book.

Some researchers, in America, went to people's houses and asked them to agree to put a large billboard in their front gardens regarding road safety.

The billboard was ugly and badly designed.

As you might expect 83% refused and only 17% agreed.

Though from the way in which Cialdini describes the billboard I'm surprised that even 17% agreed.

So the researchers tested a different strategy.

They went to another set of houses and asked the owners if they would be prepared to put in their front windows a 3-inch square sign, which said:

‘Be a safe driver!’ As you can imagine most said:


Then, a couple of weeks later, the researchers went back and asked the people who had previously agreed to the three inch sign, if they would be prepared to have the ugly billboard in their front gardens and amazingly or perhaps not so – 76% said:


Not only, is this fascinating information the fact that 76% said yes, but you and I can use this idea, with integrity, to increase sales conversion rates and thereby increase turnover and profits.

The key lies in this expression:

"People will never consistently do who they aren't”

Or in other words:

Who we are is our beliefs and values, and what we do is invariably consistent with those beliefs and values.

Now, if we reverse the expression we get:

“People will consistently do who they are.”

And so linking back to the billboard and the increase in compliance rates: people will consistently do whom they have publicly expressed they are!

“People will consistently do who they have
publicly expressed they are.”

So when you and I or for that matter anyone else publicly announces - often accompanied by action, a set of beliefs and values and are asked to take further actions, that are totally in alignment, with those previously expressed beliefs, we will use shortcut decision-making processes and take congruent action.

So how do you and I use this knowledge?

Well, during the fact finding or information gathering with both current and prospect customers and clients, we need to find out their beliefs and values regarding the product or service we are selling.

Then…provided that we are asking our customers or clients to take action or actions that are in alignment with those beliefs and values - their publicly expressed beliefs and values, they are far more likely to say:


What questions, can you ask that will have the customer telling you – who they are?

Let me give you an example of how I use this in my business:

Example 1 - Selling training services:

When talking with prospect clients and understanding in detail their business – current position and future goals one of the key pieces of information I want to discover is their beliefs and values centered on training.

So here’s some of the questions I would use:

Have you done any training with your people before? (if they answer ‘Yes’ then I know fundamentally they believe in the concept of training)
So you do believe in an ongoing programme of training and development then? (Note the words ongoing programme)
And how important are your people in delivering your overall vision for the business? Most Leaders have their people in the top 2 success factors
So arming them with key skills to raise their personal bars and most importantly build the new skills into their daily activity is high on your personal agenda then

The ‘Yes’ answer to this final question leads me into ‘demonstrating’ phase of WHY they should choose Pti and why we are different.

Example 2 - Life insurance:

“Do you have any life insurance?”

The ‘yes’ – indicates that the customer already believes in the concept.

The next question could be:

“Why?” - a simple ‘Why?’ would probably be too blunt – but, the answer to this ‘why’ type question – would have the customer telling you their, beliefs and values about the idea of life insurance – then you can capitalise on that statement about, who they are!

I'm certain that you have the idea.

This is one of the most powerful ideas I can share with you... I urge you to take this thought, work with it and create a series of questions that will enable you to find out the beliefs and values of your potential customers -so you can correctly align any actions you wish the customer to take with their stated position.

It’s far easier for a customer to make a series of small decisions, rather than one BIG decision at the end of a conversation, as each question, confirms their beliefs and values, both generally and specifically to the ideas you’re putting forward.


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