Thursday, May 9, 2013

Six Principles of Persuasion: Consistency and Commitment

Part 2 of a 6-part series

You planned to buy a dress, not a purse. But you bought a purse because the salesperson said, "You really need a purse that matches your new dress."

You're feeling the power of consistency when you go along with a suggestion automatically. 

Robert Cialdini calls consistency a "shield against thought" that protects us from "unpleasant realizations" (such as the fact that you can hardly afford the new dress).

We prize consistency because we think inconsistency is a character flaw. But that belief can work against our interests.

Consistency kicks in after commitment.

You feel the power of commitment whenever you accept a suggestion to extend your involvement after saying "yes" to a simple request.

  • You agree to take your utility company's phone survey, then agree to switch to a more expensive monthly plan. 
  • You agree to sign a petition, then agree to donate to the cause. 
  • You agree to attend a free seminar, then buy an annuity.

Commitment rules us because it affects self-image. We want to be smart consumers, good citizens, shrewd investors. But that belief can also work against our interests.

Consistency and commitment explain why contests generate new customers; why "lowball" pricing produces profits; and why cross-selling is part of every salesperson's skill-set.

Want to persuade someone? Ask him to perform an easy deed.
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