What makes people say "yes"

Comprehensive Book Review: Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion (Learn the most important skill to master in modern sales)

How many times have you felt that perhaps you should not have purchased some of the things you have? Nobody pushed you. Nobody controlled you. But you kept getting interested .. attracted towards those things. Somehow, you were subconsciously influenced. The good news is you are not alone. Almost all of us have bought things like this. If you are a professional in sales and business development, it is this skill of “influencing” others that can set you apart from your competition. When none of us likes to be pushed around, influence is the way ahead. Let us look at 6 deeply insightful statistics if you are eager to know, why you must read “Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini – especially if you are in modern sales.

70% of buyers fully define their needs on their own before engaging with a sales representative, and 44% identify specific solutions before reaching out to a seller.

(CSO Insights)

60% want to connect with sales during the consideration stage, after they’ve researched the options and come up with a short list.


57% of people said they would be encouraged to make a purchase from a salesperson who doesn’t try to apply pressure or hassle them when following up


80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls whereas 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up call.


60% of customers say no four times before saying yes whereas 48% of salespeople never even make a single follow up attempt.


Gong.io analyzed over 100,000 connected outreach calls and found successful salespeople talk for 54% of the call, while unsuccessful salespeople spent only 42% of their time speaking


Do you find a story in these statistics as you go from the first to the sixth? Are you seeing a pattern in them?

Let us look at some quick valuable insights about modern selling that we can find here:

1. Modern buyer is empowered with technology, internet, and social media. In many ways, he is in the driver’s seat. They have plenty of information to help them choose and options to choose from.

2. These days buyers connect with sale reps much later in their buying cycle.

3. Almost 3 out of 4 buyers want to speak with the sales reps. This means they need your assistance.

4. They hate a salesperson who is pushy, forcing them during sales conversations.

5. Once they connect with the sales rep, they will mostly speak at least 3-4 times before making a decision.

6. Sales reps get a fair share of talk time during sales calls.

7. You can win many more customers who may be saying no first or are hesitant.

Let us add one famous line that is spoken throughout the world of modern sales to this –

“All of us love buying, but hate getting sold!”

Modern buyers want the “help of a positive influence” from sales representatives when they are buying. They do not want to be pushed, ordered, or driven around.

So, if you master the skill of influence in modern selling, you will have a competitive advantage over 99% of sales professionals in this market! It will help you close more deals. It will bring you customers who will stay long with you, buy more from you!

Now, you may be wondering where do you start your journey to master the art and science of “influence”?  Is there any book, any course, or any person you can go to?

37 years back Robert Cialdini wrote “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” which sold 3 million copies, got translated into 30 languages, and was listed as one of the  “75 Smartest Business Books”.  

After going undercover for 3 years in used car sales, fundraising and tele-calling his extensive study made him realize 6 key psychological strategies or weapons as he calls them,  that make people say “yes”. They are – reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, scarcity.

In the field of “what makes us say yes” – in other words – tactics that “influence” us to say yes– this book can be called as the granddaddy of anything ever written out there!

I read this book 3 years back when I was building my first business. I wanted to understand how I can persuade people to do what I want them to do, without them feeling being pushed or forced.

Influence has 7 chapters and 320 pages. It talks about the power of reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity in getting people to say “yes”.

These weapons of influence, as they are called in the book, can be used alone or together. It has a ton of examples on how to use them and where to use them.

What I find interesting after trying these principles is that “they actually work”. Once put in practice, they are almost like automatic machines getting you the desired results.

Knowing these principles in detail can help you not only sell better but also protect yourself from unwanted influences on yourself.

In fact, the book has specific guidelines and examples which tell us how you can detect and avoid any such influence tactics played on you.

A quick look into the 6 principles covered in “Psychology of Persuation”

1) Reciprocation –

All of us naturally want to return favors from others. This is why you will see so many companies offering free content, books, gifts and even samples. The freemium plans you see with software companies are also about this. It helps companies deliver value and over the period of time make their prospects return this favor with purchase. Robert Cialdini uses the example of Ethiopia, which gave thousands of dollars to help Mexico just after an earthquake in the 1980s. Ethiopia was simply reciprocating in relation to the support Mexico that Ethiopia provided when they were invaded by Italy in 1937.

2) Commitment and Consistency –

If anyone commits, either verbally or in writing, about a goal or idea or next step, they tend to keep up with their commitment. Think of last time, when you said you will do something to your parents or friends, how hard it was to not keep up with your promise! 

3) Social Proof –

All of us want to make the right decisions and be proven right with our choices. So we tend to do what is socially accepted and appreciated. When you buy a product, you want to see if others had good experiences with the same. We end up following others around us because of this knowingly or unknowingly.  This is why referrals and testimonials play a big role in the field of modern selling and business development.

4) Authority –

In the modern world with multiple choices in everything that we need or want, can you imagine how difficult it will be to do deep research before we can make up our minds? A shortcut for most of us is listening to those who are perceived as experts or authorities in different fields. In modern-day selling or business development, influencers play some of these roles. The interesting part is most of us may obey such experts, even if we are asked to do things we don’t want to do.  

5) Liking –

92% of us buy something that our friend or colleague referred us. Why? We are easily persuaded by those whom we like. Cialdini gives an example of Tupperware marketing which comes close to what we call viral marketing nowadays. Can you imagine the impact of your likability to your prospect on your sales figures?

6) Scarcity –

We do not have an equal drive to win, but all of us hate to lose! We do not like to miss on things even if sometimes the things may be of little or no use to us. This is why we tend to accumulate so many things that we hardly use. The principle of perceived scarcity is at play here. It tends to make us buy these things. Can you see why so many offers around us say things like “available for next 3 days only”?

Hope this makes you curious and interested enough to buy and read this book. I highly recommend it to modern sales and business development professionals.

You can buy this book on Amazon or Flipkart. It will be Rs. 399 spent well and lifetime of wisdom!

In conclusion, I look at these 6 principles of powerful persuasion as the shortcuts that our brain takes for making fast and smart decisions. Modern sales professionals need to ride on these natural behaviors to get their prospects to buy from them without feeling pushed or compelled.

If you use them well, it will create a long-lasting positive impact on your professional, social and personal life. If you have read it, I look forward to learning from your insights!

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