August 13, 2022
Hexavia Business Club
Book Review

Book Review – Influence by Robert Cialdini.

Have you ever thought about the psychology behind persuasion? Do you find it difficult to get people to do what you want them to do, without being aggressive or dubious? Or have you ever wondered why you found yourself doing something you never originally planned to do or would have thought to do? The book, Influence by Robert Cialdini explains core concepts to relieve you of these and similar problems.


Before we share these concepts, I would ask you a question. Have you ever wondered why you suddenly bought something from a salesman, grocery store or machinery dealer, even when you never planned to buy that thing, or even needed it at the moment? Hmm… well, you may have an answer or not, but when you learn the key concepts that would be shared, you’d better understand why you found yourself buying what you didn’t need and then smile, and you can apply them in your business or personal life too.


Now I want you to imagine yourself in your sitting room, and you heard a knock on your front door. You opened, and saw a man in a nicely tailored and well-pressed suit, he greets you warmly and says something like, “Hello, I’m Emeka, the senior sales associate at Hexavia Limited”, he hands you his card and says, “It’s a bit foggy outside, could I come in for a minute and tell you why this hair dryer is the last dryer you’d ever need?” You let him in and after he enters, he compliments you on your wall painting and says “I love your walls, the painting is great, mine is also painted with a similar design”. After a few minutes chat about wall paintings, he shows you the dryer and tells you that some of your neighbors have already gotten it (even calling names). He shows you some special features and offers to leave it with you for the weekend. He comes back the next week and tells you warmly about how he sold off the remaining dryers, and the one left with you is the last one in stock. Now you never planned to buy a dryer, but you just found yourself paying for one. Why is that?


The author, Robert Cialdini, researched on the theory of persuasion and came up with six interesting concepts which are used by salesmen and fundraisers. To help make these concepts easy to remember, we would use the mnemonic S.S.A.L.E.E (You can pronounce as sale with double ‘s’ and ‘e’). Take a look at the meaning of each word below:

S – Scarcity

S – Social proof.

A – Authority

L – Liking

E – Escalating Commitments

E – Exchange


In the concept of scarcity, a student of Robert Cialdini carried out an experiment using two different sales scripts for his business. One sales script was a normal write-up where the sales person told the potential customer about the value of the product, while the other script added information about the scarcity of the product. It actually said that in 6 months time, the product will be out of stock. When sales were compared using both scripts, the script that involved scarcity resulted in 6 times more sales than the normal script. Companies like Amazon use “scarcity” by telling you how many stocks are left for purchase, Airlines use this by telling you how many tickets are left for a particular flight. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is what makes people buy a product when you inform them about its scarcity.


In the concept of social proof, an experiment was carried out at Columbia University. When a subject was put alone in a room, and smoke was infused, statistics showed that about 75% of them reported the smoke. But when two “actors” were added to the room, and were initially told not to mention the smoke and behave like it wasn’t there, statistics showed that only 10% of the subjects reported the smoke. This is because, when we are uncertain, we look to others to decide how we act. For example, when we want to purchase an item on Amazon, we look at reviews before we buy. That’s why salespeople go lengths of mentioning your friends or acquaintances who have bought from them, also why positive reviews with the names of the person are shown for products.


In the concept of authority, a researcher in the Midwest called 21 nursing stations and told each nurse to administer an unapproved drug to a specific patient at near lethal doses. The nurses didn’t know him but he told them he was a “doctor”. After the research, it was found out that 95% of the nurses complied. Fortunately, someone intervened and stopped the nurses before they could administer the drug to the patient. Humans are known to comply to higher authorities. As kids, you look up to your parents and teachers, as you grow older, you look up to more respected figures of society. That’s why salespeople use impressive tiltes when introducing themselves, they also dress poshly and drive nice cars, this is just to create a positive first impression of class and cognitively make the prospect listen to them.


In the concept of liking, countless studies have shown that we are significantly more likely to respond in the affirmative to people who seem like us. That’s why salespeople look at a prospect’s car, art, style of dressing or interests and pick out something they can talk about. They may see your suede shoes and say something like, “Nice shoes you’ve got on, I also love suedes and have a couple of them at home.” Or if they see a chess board in your house, during conversation, they may chip in something like, “Last year chess tournament was so amazing, I can’t wait to participate in this year’s own”. Salespeople try to make you like them, because when you like them, you are more likely to make close a deal with them.


In the concept of escalating commitments, I would give a scenario. Do you know that if someone tells you to watch his/her store, you are 5 times more likely to chase or get violent with a thief that tries to steal,thereby putting yourself in harm’s way. This is because, you’re trying to subconsciously show consistency in your commitment to that responsibility. Salespeople understand this concept and lead us to make a small commitment in order to close a larger deal. For example, many membership sites may ask you to pay a little fee of maybe $1 or even nothing to join their community, because they know that in your bid to be consistent, you’d be able to pay for something more over time you spend there.


In the concept of exchange, which can also be viewed as “reciprocation”, it has been found out that when we receive something of value, we feel morally obligated to return that favour in one way or the other. For example, I noticed that I spend more when I buy stuffs from grocery stores that offer me discounts than those that don’t. I’m quite sure majority of us would do the same if we experienced something similar.


In summary, if you want to apply any of the six persuasive concepts, remember the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In your business, use these six concepts to nudge your customers to respond positively and close deals more quickly and effectively.



Eizu, ©Hexavia!

Strategy. Business StartUps and Corporate Restructuring Consulting

T: 08035202891

Uwaoma Eizu is the lead strategist at Hexavia! He is a graduate of Mathematics with two MBAs and over a decade of experience working with startups and big businesses. His core is in building startups and in corporate restructuring. He is also a certified member of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Institute of Strategic Management of Nigeria and the Project Management Institute, USA. By the side, he writes weekly for the BusinessDay newspaper.

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