Back in the day, as they say, Avon was (and still is in fact) one of the largest cosmetics companies in the world you’ve never heard of.
Avon ladies (as they are called) sell a range of cosmetics door to door visiting customers regularly building relationships and trust along the way. They’ve been doing it up and down the country and growing for years even if they don’t advertise on TV anymore.
They make great use of the simple fact that people prefer to say yes to the people they like.
So what persuades one person to like another?
- We like people who are similar to us
- We like people who pay us compliments
- We like people who cooperate with us to do things for a common goal.
Here’s another example.
One of Robert Cialdini’s studies compared the interactions between two different groups of MBA students who were undertaking a task that involved doing deals.
Time is money
The first group was told that time is money and they had to get down to negotiations straightaway.
They all sat down and got straight into negotiations. They barely said hello, so eager were they to close the deal. 55% came to an agreement
No, it’s not, relationships matter
The second group was told to take its time. They were asked to build personal relationships and identify similarities before getting down to negotiations. So that’s just what they did.
The outcomes were different: 90% of them came to successful and agreeable results typically worth 18% more to both parties.
That proves a point. Even the best market traders looking for very quick, priced-based transactions will use a few sentences in their eloquent patter to build a relationship with their potential customer, a compliment here, a word about the weather there.
If you ever go networking (and you should), the worse groups will have a vampire or two who thinks it’s all right to dive in and pitch you to death before even trying to make conversation and working out whether the product or service is right.
It’s rather like going out with someone and asking for sex at the end of the evening.
A bit premature.
Look for real areas of similarity and pay genuine compliments before getting down to business. It really will go better. What’s more, if you feel a bit icky about this whole selling business, it’ll probably make you feel that much better.
(This is one of a series of posts about the 6 principles of persuasion. See the others here).