Beware the sales pitch


We can learn a lot from used-car sales folks.

Noted psychologist Robert Cialdini urges his students to study the techniques used that entice you to buy.

Go to a used-car lot and see how the seller pitches the product, Cialdini advises.

He calls them Weapons of Influence: reciprocity, commitment, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity.

For example, one researcher following Cialdini’s principles found she received more sales when folks learned they were hand-picked to hear the pitch, and that they had a deadline to respond.

The principles work, in part, because our decision-making is influenced by our natural tendencies to fit in, to be liked, and to be seen as smart.

When honey-pie and I search for dishwashers this weekend, we will steep ourselves in Cialdini’s lessons. We will be aware of the following traps:

1. Sales-folks try to create personal bonds to increase likability. How often has a clerk or waitress remarked: I love your scarf!

2. Sellers invent scarcity to prime your mental heuristics: This is the last model we have and it will go quickly!

3. Creating fake deadlines moves products: This offer is only good today!

4. Sales folks divest themselves from decision-making: Hey, if it were up to me I’d let you have this for a steal, but it’s up to my boss!

5. Buying the more-expensive option appeals to your good sense and taste, even if you came in to buy the cheaper model: If you buy the premier version you get more for your money!

OK: we are prepared. We are armed.

Wish me luck.



About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in cialdini, heuristics, Native Science, sales, science communication and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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