Powers of Persuasion

I’m going to start a new series on how dentists can use persuasion to get more clients today. I recently read the multi-million selling book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini, so I was really excited to get to listen to him on a webcast.

He is the foremost expert in the world on persuasion and has worked with some of the biggest companies in the world. Plus Dr. Cialdini uses research to back up what he says; it’s not just psychobabble.

In this installment, I’m going to give you an overview of Cialdini’s six key principles of influence. We’ll see how they relate to dentistry throughout the series.

The six principles (in a nutshell) are:

  1. Reciprocation: People feel obligated to give to those who give to them.
  2. Liking: People prefer to say yes when they know and like someone.
  3. Consensus: People decide what to do based on what other people like themselves do.
  4. Authority: People want to follow the advice of experts.
  5. Consistency: People want to follow through on their written and verbal commitments.
  6. Scarcity: People want what they perceive to be in short supply.

Now right off the bat, these things seem to make sense, right?

How often have you had someone give you a gift or do you a favor, and you felt obligated to do something nice for them or to somehow pay them back even if they didn’t ask you to?

And it’s much harder to say no to someone you like.

There are companies whose entire marketing strategy is to recruit people to sell to their family and friends. When the family and friends run out, the company brings in a new batch of salespeople.

We’d like to think that we are independent-minded, that we are not influenced by what others do.

Dr. Cialdini gave an example of how this group think works during the webinar. He said the British tax collection agency decreased the number of delinquent taxpayers simply by saying, “90 percent of people in your town pay on time” on the tax notices!

The fourth point should be obvious to any dentist. When you hear about new products or studies, don’t you want to judge for yourself the expertise of the source? If you consider the source and expert, you believe in the product, if you are skeptical of the author(s), you are likely skeptical of the conclusions.

Dr. Cialdini gave another great example during the webinar of a large medical office that had trouble getting patients to honor their appointments. But one small change solved the problem: The receptionist began having the patients write the time and date on the appointment card. Because they had written it down in front of the receptionist, they felt obligated to follow through.

Finally, the last example is an awfully good one.

It’s one that I practice and one that I encourage my clients to do the same. If an offer is out there forever, where is the incentive to make a decision NOW? There isn’t any.

There’s a reason why every advertisement since the beginning of time has said “limited-time offer,” and it’s because it works.

Next time we’ll look further into principle #1, reciprocation…

Leave me a comment about what you’ve seen here and maybe I’ll use it in a future blog or as a starter to a bigger discussion.




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About the author
Colin Receveur is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and dental web marketing expert who has pioneered the way dentists market themselves online for the past decade. Since incorporating in 2001, Colin has established a rock solid track record with his dentist clients and turned SmartBox into a stalwart of proven results for hundreds of dental practices.