Put the Law On Your Side

By Heather Baldwin

There are all sorts of laws. Traffic laws, laws of science, tax laws – you name it, there’s a law for it. The same is true in selling. There are 10 time-tested Laws of Influence which, when followed, make selling easier, more fun and more rewarding than ever, says Kevin Hogan, author of The Science of Influence (John Wiley & Sons, 2005). Here are three of the laws and Hogan’s ideas for applying them.

Law of Reciprocity. This law states that when you give away something of perceived value, the recipient will feel compelled to give something back. Sales reps often take advantage of this law by giving prospects free samples of their products. But what if you don’t have a product to give or your product isn’t conducive to free samples? Take your prospects to lunch. Give them a just-published book about their industry. If you sell financial products, for example, Hogan suggests giving away a free report that lists the top-performing investments for the past three years. If you sell real estate, provide a booklet on basic home maintenance.

Law of Friends. This law states that when someone asks you to do something and you perceive the person has your best interests in mind – as friends do – you are strongly motivated to fulfill the request. One of the most powerful ways to use this law is to point out the negative aspects or limitations of your product or service. Arguing against your own self-interest, says Hogan, makes you appear unbiased and causes prospects to feel you have their best interests in mind. Consequently, they will view you as more trustworthy.

Law of Power. Power is the ability to change. It comes with authority and charisma and is both real and a perception. “Your clients will perceive you as more powerful if you act with confidence but not conceit, comfort but not disregard and certainty but not knowing it all,” says Hogan. “Once people perceive you as competent, caring, knowledgeable, confident and certain their confidence level in you goes up.” That’s power. If you are an expert in your industry and know everything there is to know about your product – and with research, know how it can help the client solve a specific challenge – you become the go-to guy, he adds. “Subtly make sure your clients know you are the best or among the best in your company,” Hogan concludes. “People like to deal with the guy at the top.”