How to get people to say ‘yes’

Influence the psychology of persuasionIn 1984 Dr Robert B. Cialdini wrote a book called Influence.  It explains the psychology of why people say yes and helps you apply the theory through six simple universal principles to increase your chances of people saying yes to you. The universal principles are as follows:


1. Reciprocity – if you give then you receive. People are more likely to say yes to those that they owe. Be the first to give and ensure that what you give is personalised and unexpected.

2. Scarcitypeople want more of what there is less of. It’s not enough just to tell people the benefits of choosing to buy your products and services. You must explain why they are unique and what they stand to lose if they don’t get involved.

3. Authoritypeople follow the lead of credible experts.  Signal to others what makes you a credible knowledgeable authority, for example qualifications or years of experience, before you influence.

4. Consistency – people are more likely to commit to something if they have already made a smaller commitment. Start to influence by asking first for small commitments.

5. Liking – people prefer to say yes to people that they like.  We also like people who are similar to us. Spend time exchanging personal information and building rapport before you attempt to influence.

6. Consensus – people will look to the actions and behaviours of others before determining their own behaviour (especially if the others are people ‘like them’). Show people how ‘other people like them’ have benefited from saying yes.

Understanding the six universal principles and applying them to your fundraising will enable you to make small changes that can make it much more likely that someone will say yes to you.

If you haven’t read Influence I suggest that you add it to your reading list. In the meantime, there is a shortcut – spend 11 minutes watching this animate film that explains more about how the six universal principles have been tested and have influenced people to say yes.


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