Thursday, 13 June 2013

Cialdini's Six Principles of Influence

Cialdini's Six Principles of
for Carpet Cleaners

AKA Convincing Prospects to Say "Yes"

Do you give a fantastic carpet cleaning service?

In return do you get all the jobs you want, at the rate you want…or indeed deserve?

Most carpet cleaners are nice guys, fully trained and offer a good service, however their marketing and more importantly their face-to-face sales let them down.

The problem is being ‘nice’ and having a ‘good’ … or even a ‘great’ carpet cleaning service will not put food on your table.  You need to convince people to buy into YOUR SERVICE and you need to persuade them to buy into YOU too. 

Put simply, to make a sale you need to ‘Influence’ others, which can be challenging, so this is why it's worth understanding some of the psychological principles behind the ‘influencing process’.

This is where it's useful to know about Cialdini's Six Principles of Influence.

In this blog, we'll examine these six principles, and we'll look at how you can apply them to influence others to buy your carpet cleaning service.

When we say Influence, we mean ‘change’ – change in attitude, in a perception, or behaviour. We can’t lay claim to influence until we can demonstrate that we’ve changed someone.

Because the principles of influence can be so powerful in causing change in others, we have to consider our ethical responsibilities in the process. Fortunately, the way to be ethical in the use of these principles is the same way to be profitable in using them.

About the Six Principles
The Six Principles of Influence (also known as the Six Weapons of Influence) were created by Dr Robert Cialdini, Regents' Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University. He published them in his highly respected 1984 book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion."

Cialdini identified the six principles through experimental studies, and by immersing himself in the world of what he called "compliance professionals" – salespeople, fund raisers, recruiters, advertisers, marketers all skilled in the art of convincing and influencing others.

Now lets look at the Six Principles of Influence a little closer and from a carpet cleaner’s point of view…

1. Reciprocity

Reciprocation recognises that people feel indebted to those who do something for them or give them a gift.

Cialdini says: “The implication is you have to go first. Give something: give information, give free samples, give a positive experience to people and they will want to give you something in return.”

The easiest example is a ‘FREE Carpet Spotter’ given as a gift upfront.   If you understand ‘Reciprocity’ you will know the rewards completely outweigh the cost.  You could even say to your prospects they’ll receive a life-time supply when they become a client, as you’ll replace (or top-up) the bottle on every visit.

However, the best example of ‘Reciprocity’ is to offer a ‘FREE ROOM OF CARPET CLEANING’

The ‘Free Room’ was first introduced in the UK in 1997 and has given a many smart carpet cleaners lots of new quality clients.   Recently I saw people discussing the ‘Free Room’ on Facebook and was amazed how many carpet cleaners in these modern times just don’t understand the simple power of ‘Reciprocity’.   By targeting a ‘Free Room’ of cleaning offer to a pre-qualified prospect you’ll gain jobs worth over £170 on average…well given 15 years of proof, it can’t be wrong!

Here’s how it works…the ‘Free Room’ offer is given without cost or obligation of any kind, to prequalified prospects (ie. people living in the type homes, in areas we know are our type of clients).   This will allow people to ‘trial’ your cleaning and experience the level and the quality of your service…without risk.  The only request you should make, is to be allowed to give a FREE quotation for the rest of the carpets in the house prior to cleaning.  And if the prospect is delighted with your work, then they’ll naturally want to get additional cleaning done with you. And if they’re not, (and if your service is good this shouldn’t happen), you walk away and never pressure them in order to buy more, which is the complete opposite of what a lot of price-discounters and the ‘bait and switchers’ do.

Also people taking the 'FREE Room offer' will stay loyal clients at a higher job ticket... it's really worth looking at!

2. Commitment (and Consistency)

Cialdini says that we all have a deep desire to be consistent. For this reason, we’re more likely to do something after we’ve agreed to it verbally or in writing. People strive for consistency in their commitments. They also prefer to follow pre-existing attitudes, values and actions.

One way carpet cleaners can influence their clients is by asking the client if it’s OK to call them in 6 months to arrange the next visit.  A bit like most of us will rebook the dentist before we leave our last appointment.   This is a simple task, but if it gets the client to verbally agree it is most likely you can dramatically increase the frequency that your clients buy from you.  Even if they decide not to have cleaning at that time … you can rebook the call for another few months and still speed-up the frequency.

This one action of increasing your clients cleaning frequency could double your business with almost not cost to you!

3. Social Proof

This principle relies on people's sense of "safety in numbers."

For example, we're more likely to do something if we can see others are doing the same, like put a tip in a jar if it already contains money, or eat in a restaurant if it's busy. Here, we're assuming that if lots of other people are doing it, then it must be OK.

You can go out into the world and tell people how great you are all day long. But when you’ve got other people to do it for you, it’s infinitely more believable.

Always use written testimonials in all your marketing letters and flyers (and keep them local to the area of the letter or flyer)…Video your testimonials of your cleaning clients and upload them on your YouTube channel and embed them on your website.  You can even load the videos on a smartphone or tablet to show when with prospects.

Also when selling, always ‘package’ your services into three (the middle package being your preferred package like clean and protect) and tell the prospect that most of your clients prefer this package (we are assuming your protection sales are over 50% here … if they are not you need to work on increasing them).  Or if you offer ‘maintenance plans’ tell the prospect your clients on this package really enjoy the extra benefits of always having clean, healthy carpets etc...

4. Liking

Cialdini says that we're more likely to be influenced by people we like. Likability comes in many forms – people must be similar or familiar to us, and we must feel we trust them.

People are more likely to buy from people like themselves, from friends, and from people they know and respect, so always talk to them on their level.

So find some common ground, like children, hobbies etc… often people will have their interests on display around their home, if not compliment them on their home or ask them about themselves … that's most peoples number one subject!

Be interested in them and ‘Show Interest’ in their problems.

5. Authority

We feel a sense of duty or obligation to people in positions of authority. This is why advertisers of pharmaceuticals employ doctors to front their campaigns, and why most of us will do most things that our manager or boss requests.

Job titles, uniforms, and even accessories or gadgets can lend an air of authority, and can persuade us to accept what these people say.   Remember on your inspection to carryout all the checks on the carpet … we know you what you’re doing, but you are demonstrating and reassuring to the prospect that you are the local expert.

When people are uncertain, they look outside themselves for information to guide their decisions. Given the incredible influence of authority figures, it would be wise to show you have ‘authority’ as a member of the NCCA, certified by the IICRC and endorsed by TrustMark.  All these help persuade prospects to make purchases with YOU.

6. Scarcity
This principle says that things are more attractive when their availability is limited, or when we stand to lose the opportunity to acquire them on favourable terms.

For instance, we might buy something immediately if we're told that it's one of the last few available.  Or if the buy one-get-one FREE offer is for this week only.

Always show that a special offer on your carpet cleaning flyers, adverts or letters, that is limited by number or time and give a date to show it will soon expire.

When you are selling to the prospect, which sold be face to face, explain how busy you are and you only have limited places to book their cleaning in so they must be quick or they could miss their slot.

If your carpet cleaning service is genuinely unique, be sure to highlight its unique qualities to increase the perception of its scarcity…
    ‘the only company in (area) to offer a 14-step cleaning service and fully guaranteed to clean deep down’…
    ‘the only company in the area to use Rotary Extraction and Rapid Drying Service… to remove more soil and leave the carpet dryer’.

So there they are ... I hope you enjoyed them, and understood how these small tweaks can make a massive outcome. 

I strongly recommend you buy and read the book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Dr Robert Cialdini.

The Six Principles of Influence are a very powerful tools and will help you to ethically sell more carpet cleaning services to your clients. Use them wisely!

As always let me know how you get on.



Keith Robertson
Vice President & Marketing Director NCCA.

PS. If you would like to hear more then follow this link  or click the video below to hear Dr Robert Cialdini being interviewed by Joe Polish, the leading expert in marketing for carpet cleaners.