Imagine you get an email from a charity asking you to participate in an event 60 kilometres away on Saturday. The email details how much good it does for the environment and long before the end of the email, your eyes have glazed over. On Saturdays you love having a braai and watching rugby with friends. “Sorry” you reply “I’m going away for the weekend”.
However, if the email had said that as “a highly regarded person”, your participation in the event would bring much needed extra funding to the NGO, you would definitely be interested. You would probably say, you would love to attend but you have commitments this weekend and the trip to Paarl is too far and will eat into these commitments.
“That’s no problem” quickly comes back into your inbox “I will personally collect you and we can listen to the rugby on the car radio. Your colleague Bob made quite an impression last year and we thought you would be better.”
You really admire Bob and against your better judgment you accept the engagement.
Why did you say “Yes”?
Firstly, flattery works. If you want to get someone to do something flatter them, particularly if they don’t want to do it. Think how powerful an asset this is in the workplace. One of the key arts of management is to get people to accomplish tasks they don’t want to do and to keep them cooperative.
Another potent weapon is “social proof” or peer pressure. You agreed to go to Paarl after it was pointed out how good Bob was last year. A few years ago, research was done on this and hotel guests were divided into two groups – one group was told that reusing towels in their hotel bathrooms would have a positive effect on the environment. The other group were told that most other hotel guests reused their towels. People reacted far more positively when told other guests reused their towels and they began to reuse theirs.
Most people think (and say) they aren’t swayed by other people’s behaviour but in fact they are, particularly when these people are from a similar social group.
So how can you use this in business?
Getting endorsements from customers and sharing this with potential or existing customers is a good example of improving your sales and profit line. Another way is to invite businesses you are cultivating to meet customers who view you favourably. This interaction can sway prospective customers to become actual customers. Have a dinner where current customers sit next to people who you want to do business with.
Throw in a bit of flattery and look forward to increased sales!