Influence – Robert Cialdini

Book Notes and Takeaways via Duncan Kelm

We will always have more success asking for favors if you provide a reason

We all have automated tapes that play in response to specific communications and experiences

  • Our auto tapes usually develop from physiological principles or stereotypes we have learned to accept

The contrast principle:

  • When compared to something of lesser appeal the original will always look more attractive
  • Example: Two women, one who is decent looking and then an unattractive women walks up, the other decent looking woman is instantly more attractive
  • When using the contrast principle in sales, ALWAYS present the MORE EXPENSIVE item first
    • This will employ the contrast principle in regards to price in your favor


  • People feel obligated to repay in kind when provided with something
  • Although the obligation to repay constitutes the essence of the reciprocity rule, it is the OBLIGATION to RECEIVE that makes the rule so easy to exploit
  • The uninvited first favor must not come across as a sales pitch, and must have the ability to create an obligation
    • Taking a client to a game or going golfing
    • Small gifts in the mail
  • There is a strong cultural pressure to reciprocate a gift even an unwanted one; but there is no such pressure to purchase an unwanted commercial product
  • This rule is so powerful because it triggers the UNPLEASANT feeling of INDEBTEDNESS
    • It weighs heavily on us and demands to be removed
  • A person who violates the reciprocity rule by accepting without attempting to return the good acts of others is actively disliked by social groups
  • People will often give back more than they receive
  • People will also often make CONCESSIONS for those that make concessions for us
    • Example: Sales rejection then retreat technique, make a larger request one that you know will likely be turned down, then make a smaller request that you were really interested in all along
    • APPLICABLE EXAMPLE: I would like your business, if no, then would you allow me to draft a financial plan for you free of charge
    • If the first set of  demands is seen as unreasonable this tactic will backfire
    • The concession tactic will also cause people to feel more responsible for having “dictated” the final agreement
    • Since this tactic brings about compliance, the person is likely to feel more satisfied with the result
  • Favors are to be met with favors, it does not require tricks to be met with favors
    • The tactic must seem entirely genuine

Commitment and CONSISTENCY

  • Once a stand has been taken, the need for consistency caused people to bring what they felt and believed into line with what they had already done
  • People tend to keep their thoughts consistent with what was already done or decided
  • If a person makes a public commitment about something, e.g. “I think the stock market is going down” they will have a hard time refuting that commitment anytime soon
  • A high degree of consistency is normally associated with people of high intellectual strength
  • Commitment is key, small commitments of yes can help result in the larger commitment
  • Get clients to say yes and commit to small things, e.g. “do you think we have a good strategy?” “Do you understand how I explained this to you?” “Does this make sense?”
  • If I can get you to make a commitment (that is, go on record), I will have set the stage for your automatic and ill-considered consistency with that earlier commitment
  • Example:
    • Hello Mr. Target, how are you feeling this evening? 
    • The caller’s intent is to get you to respond with a polite comment that you are doing well.  Once all is fine then the salesperson can begin the tactics
    • People who explain they are fine will then have trouble to appear stingy afterwards
  • The tactic of starting with a little request in order to gain eventual compliance with related larger requests is known as the “foot in the door” technique
  • You can use small commitments to manipulate a person’s self-image, once they have made enough small commitments they become pot committed to that idea
  • When you set goals, write them down, you then have something for which to aim
  • Something special happens when you put commitments ON PAPER
    • Maybe seek to have all clients sign a document to get a commitment that is harder to release
    • “I am committed to the “long term,” I will not let the short term volatility of the market sway my objectives and goals.”
  • Public commitments tend to be lasting commitments
  • Written commitments are also more effective because they require more work

Social Proof

  • Social scientists have determined that we accept inner responsibility for behavior when we think we have chosen to perform it in the absence of strong outside pressure
  • Since 95% of people are imitators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others
  • Convince and ye shall be convinced
  • Without a doubt when people are uncertain they are most likely to use others’ actions to decide how they themselves should act
  • We will use actions of others to decide on proper behavior for ourselves, especially when we view the “others” as SIMILAR TO OURSELVES
  • When we are uncertain we are willing to place an enormous amount of trust in the collective knowledge of the crowd
  • An auto-pilot device, like social proof, should never be trusted fully
  • People are much more likely to listen to someone who is like them in AGE, SEX, RELIGION, POLITICS, and HEALTH habits
  • People are phenomenal suckers for flattery


  • The “luncheon technique” can cause  people to value things and experiences when they are eating
  • In order to be liked, try to connect yourself to good news as much as possible and disassociate yourself from bad news


  • People have a deep-seated sense of duty to authority 
  • Adults will go to almost any length on the command of authority
  • Actions are often more frequently influenced by a person’s “title” than by the nature of the person claiming it
  • Size and status matter


  • Things are decidedly more attractive if they soon will be unavailable
    • Limited time offers
  • The idea of potential loss plays a large role in human decision making
  • Deadline tactic is an artificial time limit which is placed on the opportunity
  • The “right now” decision tactic is much favored by high pressure sellers

The financial consultants at Arrow Point Wealth Management are registered representatives with and securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended as specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.