The six principles of persuasion in real estate

Way back in 1984, at about the time Apple was launching its first Macintosh and Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ was dominating the music charts, psychologist Dr Robert Cialdini penned a literary number entitled ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’.

In it, he outlined six principles of why people feel compelled to say “yes”.  The book would go on to become a universal bestseller and bible for marketers and sales professionals alike.

During this year’s Transform, we revisited his theory, looking specifically at how the six principles of persuasion could apply ethically in real estate. Here are some practical tips and takeaways brainstormed by this year’s participants based on Dr Cialdini’s lessons.

Principle 1 – Reciprocity

“Give and ye shall receive”. That’s the theory behind the first principle of persuasion, with a number of studies showing people feel obliged to give back to others when they receive a gift or service.

What’s the takeaway for agents?  There are a host of ways to give a little extra to potential clients and buyers – from services like free market appraisals to actual gifts and deals. Meanwhile, gift giving isn’t limited to physical items or services; information is also a valuable offering.

Transform takeaways

  • Give out ‘thank you’ cards to clients – Adam Gulliford
  • Team up with a local business to offer a discount or deal – Chris York
  • Offer a free service. I’ve developed a six-week health check for prospective customers regarding their investment property. It assesses paperwork, applications, insurance, lease documents, statements and so on, and it’s free – Kaly Smith
  • At the open house, make it a great client experience with a bottle of water, chocolate and music – Iolanda Gow

Principle 2 – Scarcity

It’s just human nature that we don’t want to miss out, especially when an item is limited or there’s only a small window of opportunity to acquire something on favourable terms.

This notion of scarcity plays out right across marketing with ‘once-only offers’, ‘limited time deals’ and that perennial car yard favourite, the ‘run-out sale’.

In real estate, scarcity can apply to both property and the expert handling it.

Transform takeaways

  • In the current market, where listings are scarce, let buyers know the unique attributes of the property they are looking at and that there are few on the market with these features – Donna Ford
  • Use terms such as: ‘Unique property’ ‘Limited Availability’ and, when applicable: ‘Under Offer’ – Denise Haynes
  • Highlight what makes you stand out from the crowd with vendors, whether that’s video or live social media feeds – Matthew Kirkham
  • Have limited promotions. For example, offer free advertising or marketing for the next 10 clients – Ashleigh Goodchild
  • For buyers, mention that there other interest that may be around for that property – Ben Salm

Principle 3 – Authority

Society is built on an inherent respect for authority and, as a result, people tend to follow the lead of those with expertise or knowledge. That’s why we look for credentials, seek out experience and are swayed into buying with seals of approval or industry recognition.

Transform takeaways

  • Make sure that if someone is putting a call through to you they introduce you first, stating your experience – (From the video)
  • Update your business and personal profiles, along with your online resume, to be more credible in the eyes of the consumer. Display testimonials and awards. – Diane Witney
  • Always back up your opinion or advice with supporting evidence. For example, when offering a market appraisal, provide current market evidence on recent sales and current listings of properties that are directly comparable with the subject home. – Sam Bevan
  • Have knowledge of every listing and sale on your patch. If you haven’t been in it, go to the open to see, feel, smell the property – Jo Mooney
  • In our team, we call it ‘passing on the power’. When a pre-listing kit is dropped off to a residence, a buddy will drop the kit and say: “You are so lucky you have Darin. All Darin’s clients rave about the service they get and the price he achieves. You’re in really great hands”. They have passed on the authority. – Darin Butcher

Principle 4 – Consistency and commitment

We’d all like to think we are consistent in our beliefs and committed to our word. And it turns out studies have found that we are. Even just a small initial commitment means people are far more likely to continue saying yes.

Transform takeaways

  • When you ask permission to keep a client updated about sales in their area, follow through. Use local quarterly report emails and follow-up phone calls as touch points – Nikki Horner
  • Rather than asking for appraisals out of the blue, build up by asking if someone would like to know when something has been sold locally. Then ask if they would like to receive a quarterly report, and then an appraisal. – Ben Salm
  • Provide the same level of communication on a daily and weekly basis. Be consistent with the checklists so the level of service is the same. – Kathy Tsai
  • Remember the name of the prospective client’s family pet or children and make comment about the child when calling up to discuss the next step. Use a client’s name three times on the telephone call. If you were referred, let the prospective client know what it is the referee likes about your work – Iolanda Gow
  • Most people use testimonials to show their strength in real estate; we use businesses. We advertise those which give our customers a discount. It turns out when we do this the referrals we get from the business are our greatest source of enquiry. Businesses say we are total community-orientated and that we look after everyone, so more listings come in this way. – Darin Butcher

Principle 5 – Social proof

Just as we look to authority to guide our decisions, we also seek the consensus of our peers. Effectively, that means people are more likely to do something if they feel others do it too, or they’re more likely to use a product or service based on the recommendation of friends.

Transform takeaways

  • If you have great reviews and sales figures that prove your expertise, clients will use these to make informed decisions – Donna Ford
  • Leave cards at settlement asking for a referral to friends and family if they were happy with their experience with you. Have this request on your business cards and your email signature. Request video testimonials at exchange – Denise Haynes
  • For a new starter in the industry or anyone relocating to a new region, consider starting out in a team. Attach yourself to a high-performing agent, work your tail off for them and support them. This has the added benefits of allowing you to learn as you gather social proof through dual agent listings and by being constantly seen in your area. – Nikki Horner
  • Use statistics when advertising regarding the trends in society and days on market, and the results you get for your clients (if they are better). – Iolanda Gow
  • Use Facebook. It’s the best, most accessible, cheapest platform to show your community your success.  – Sally Strang

Principle 6 – Liking

Quite simply, we are much more likely to say yes to people we like, and the fact is we tend to like people who are similar to us, who make us feel good, or who help us achieve what we’re looking to do.

Five Transform takeaways

  • Compliment people and find common ground before you get down to business. – Adam Gulliford
  • Engage with people on a personal level. Find common ground and break down any barriers before talking business. – Chris York
  • People reflect body language. Stay positive and show an interest in what they want to discuss. Don’t be too set on business. Offer to assist in arranging trades or any other person that can assist them to get their house sale ready. – Donna Ford
  • Don’t forget to compliment their home; the Australian dream is still the Aussie Castle. Whatever their reason for selling, acknowledge their journey. – Nikki Horner

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Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer for Elite Agent Magazine with over 15 years’ journalism experience in metropolitan and regional newsrooms. She has a specialist interest in real estate, tech disruption and a good old-fashioned “yarn”.