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The Secrets Of Influence

Today and every day we are the targets of salespeople, marketers, advertisers, fundraisers and (heaven knows) politicians trying to persuade us to buy something, do something or think a certain way. And they’re good at it. Over the years, they’ve learned a lot about which features to build into a communication and which psychological strings to strum with that communication to elevate its success.

But, by concentrating so intently on the message itself, they’ve missed a crucial component of the process. Research done in the last fifteen years shows that optimal persuasion is achieved through optimal pre-suasion: the practice of arranging for people to agree with a message before they know what’s in it.

Pre-suasion works by focusing people’s preliminary attention on a selected concept — let’s say softness — which spurs them to overvalue related opportunities that immediately follow. In one study, visitors to an online sofa store were sent to a site that depicted either soft clouds or small coins in the background of its landing page. Those who saw the soft clouds were more likely to prefer soft, comfortable sofas for purchase whereas those who saw the small amounts of money preferred inexpensive models. (When questioned afterwards, the visitors refused to believe what they saw pre-suasively — clouds or coins — had influenced them at all.)

So what do you do in your line of work to preframe people? We use it ALL the time when we coach and train sales team and leaders.

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