Negotiation: Persuasion by Social Proof

04/03/2023by dang tin0

Persuasion by Social Proof

ONE OF THE most powerful influences on thinking is what other people “like me” have done in a similar situation. We are inordinately influenced by the behaviors of other people with whom we identify and to whom we relate.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

I remember a door-to-door magazine saleswoman coming to my home one day. She was friendly and cheerful. She introduced herself and then said, “I’ve been calling on your neighbors, and the average person I talk to subscribes to six of the magazines that I represent. I thought you might be interested in looking at this list as well.”
To paraphrase the words from the movie Jerry Maguire, “She had me at hello.”
Before we had a chance to think about it, we had subscribed to six new magazines as well. I doubt if we ever read the magazines, but what the heck, if everybody in our neighborhood was buying an average of six of these magazines, how could we refuse?

People Like Us

We are greatly influenced by what other people have done or purchased, especially people we feel are similar to us in interests, occupation, income, or even religious or political affiliation. You can be negotiating with someone and the person appears negative or uninterested. Then you say, “Well, the reason I’m talking to you is because your brother just bought two of these widgets last week.” All of a sudden, the other person almost always wants to buy instantly, just in learning that someone he knows, likes, and respects has also made the same purchase or entered into the same agreement.

Gather Social Proof

Use facts, statistics, names, numbers, evidence, and proof from people known to the other party. When you use social proof, referring to others who have made the same decision, this implies that the terms and conditions you are asking for are reasonable.

For example, when you are buying a new car, the salesperson will often say, “People in business, like yourself, always choose the GPS option when they purchase this car.”
Your knees go weak when the other person tells you that “people like you” have already made this buying decision and entered into this particular agreement. It knocks the chair out from under you, lowering your mental and emotional resistance.
Mention “similar others in similar situations” who have made similar decisions and concessions. When you continually refer to other people who have entered into a similar agreement, it demonstrates the reasonableness and fairness of what you are asking. It is a powerful persuader.

People in the Same Occupation

Let’s say you are negotiating with a doctor to purchase a new computer and operating system to manage his practice. When you say that several other doctors in his specialty have already purchased this system, his resistance to purchasing almost disappears.
Whenever you are negotiating a particular term or condition that is controversial to the other party, give examples of other people, similar to this person, who may have resisted this term or condition initially, but eventually agreed to it. It is much easier for people to relent on a position when you tell them that other people like them have relented on this position or demand as well.

Use Testimonials of All Kinds

One of the most powerful demonstrations of social proof is when you give written testimonials, letters, or lists of other people who have entered into an agreement on the same terms and conditions that you are suggesting.
Not long ago, I was negotiating a large consulting and training contract with a major bank. Because of the cost, the decision went all the way up the line to the president. He sent back the message that he was not comfortable entering into the agreement. But if I could provide him with the names of other banks with which I had worked, he might change his mind.

Within twenty-four hours, I provided him with a list of ten banks, national and international, with whom I had worked in years past. I even gave him the names and telephone numbers of my contact people in each of the banks. However, within five minutes of seeing the list, he immediately agreed and signed the contract. He never even phoned anyone or required any proof. He just needed to know that other people “like him” had used the services that I was recommending to his bank.

By going into a negotiation prepared to give the names of individuals and organizations that have already made this buying decision, under these terms and conditions, you significantly improve your likelihood of getting a better deal. It is one of the most powerful tools for successful negotiating ever discovered.

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