People rely heavily on others around them for cues on how to think, feel and act. Experiments have confirmed this intuitive characteristic.Professor Robert Cialdini has been a leader in advocating this form of influence and persuasion in his best-selling book, Influence: Science and Practice and on his firm’s website, Influence at Work.
The lesson for you is that persuasion can be extremely effective when it comes from peers.For instance, if people become aware that friends and neighbors have given to charity (through having a list of names displayed to them), they are more likely to give as well. The longer the donor list, the more likely they are to donate. This is a form of social evidence about how they should respond. If the list comprised the names of strangers, they would not respond as readily.
The science supports what most sales professionals already know: testimonials or case studies involving satisfied customers work best when the satisfied customer and the prospective customer share similar circumstances.
The same psychology applies in the workplace. If you need to sell the benefits of a corporate initiative to your staff and find a group of cynical employees is resisting, rather than trying to convince them yourself, ask a veteran who supports the initiative to speak up for it at a team meeting. That person is more likely to sway the recalcitrant group than more words from you. Another way of looking at this: influence is often best exerted horizontally rather than vertically.
Professional communicators are familiar with this powerful principle under another name: third party endorsement. This principle demonstrates that it is more effective to have someone respected by your target audience say good things about you or your product than from you saying the same things yourself.
What can you say to people to get them to provide you with a powerful testimonial? Here’s how: be specific about what you want them to do. Ask them to answer these three questions and you will get golden responses:
Confirm with them that they are happy for relevant comments to be quoted from their feedback to use in testimonials.
Think of ways you could use this principle for yourself in internal or external communication. Unleash people power by showing the responses of others and their successes through contact with your organization or by using your product.
By Leandro Herrero CEO of The Chalfont Project. Building Remarkable Organisations and Social Movements powered by Viral Change ™.
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