• Reason, but not too much reason: At a Kinko’s, a customer asked to cut the long line for a copy machine, saying, “Can I jump the line because I need to make copies?” (Duh …) Another used the phrase “Can I jump the line, please?” The result? Ninety-three percent versus 24 percent success, respectively. But providing too many reasons or explanations decreases the power of any one reason. Researchers showed this by asking college students to come up with two or eight reasons why their test load shouldn’t be increased. Those who came up with only two reasons were subsequently much more set against increased testing.
• Streamline: Cut ummm, I mean, isn’t it?, and even the ubiquitous like. All equivocate and detract from the authority of your message. Also cut the overall time of your delivery. Researchers at the University of Sydney found that a long, hesitant pitch nixed sales for a scanner, even when the scanner was better and cheaper than others presented.
• Exploit weakness: Resistance requires effort. Hit your target when his defenses are down. Thus the late-night infomercial. Or wait until he’s hungry. If you need immediate results, blitz his mental resources before launching into your persuasion.
• Make it personal: Including a mint with the check increased tips 3.3 percent. When a waiter offered the mints himself, tips increased 14.1 percent. Likewise, researchers found that a handwritten Post-it note requesting a survey’s return generated 39 percent more responses than a typed request. And face-to-face persuasion is much more effective than the same message via phone or e-mail.
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