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Robert Cialdini wrote the book, “Influence.” It is revered by business people all over the world. You can use the six forms of influence Cialdini discovered to generate sales leads! Guaranteed! But, you’ve got to read this post.

When Cialdini, a professor at Arizona State University, studied influence, he found six primary forms of persuasion: reciprocity, social proof, commitment/consistency, liking, authority and scarcity. Let’s look at them briefly to see how you can use them to generate sales leads.


We feel compelled to return a favor or gift when one has been given to us. For instance, if you make a high value offer to an audience (a white paper, newsletter, ebook, for instance), the audience will feel compelled to give you something in return (their contact information). These days most offers involve content, but it has to be very good content, and useful. Still, the very act of giving begets getting.

Social Proof

When a lot of people use a product or service, its value increases in the eyes of others. Why does McDonald’s say on their marquee, “3 billion sold”? That must mean they’re good. Why does HubSpot say they have “…helped organizations generate 60,000 leads per month”? They are offering proof. This is sometimes called the “Bandwagon Effect,” as people want to join a growing movement and be part of a winner. Neuroscience calls it “mirroring.” Social proof also comes in the form of testimonial.

Commitment and Consistency

People will typically repeat actions that they have already performed. You need to show people how their past actions lead to the one you want them to take. They will then act consistently. Does this sound villainous? It can be. That’s why Cialdini cautions readers to use these principle ethically. And, it’s why we agree.


People can be influenced and persuaded simply because they like the same things. Much of this also works at a non-conscious level. Did you know that many dentists are named Dennis? It’s true. Have you noticed more cars on the road like the new one you are driving? Certainly you did. You can also use testimonials to show how your customers like you, and you will be building social proof in the process (see above).


So, if you’ve read this post closely, you will see that we have used authority, herein, to persuade you. We have presented the world’s authority on influence and persuasion, Robert Cialdini!

He wrote a best seller. He’s a professor. Neuroscientists agree with him. Have we persuaded you? Do you feel the authority? If not, let us recite our customer names.


We want what we can’t have, and we chase that which runs away from us. If you want to see this principle in action, just tell teenagers they can’t do something. If your offer can be accessed too easily, does it have any value? If you can’t access this offer after 10 days, do you feel anxious? Do you want to enroll? You can use scarcity to influence people.

Cialdini’s forms of persuasion can be embedded into your lead-generation activities. But, you need to have other things in place, as well, a high quality offer, a strong call-to-action, a special page, and an easy-to-use form.


You’ve got to have a high-quality offer. Often a high-quality offer is translated as something educational. That is, teach me something I didn’t know before so that I can do my job better or make more money.


You need to have a clear call-to-action, something that stands in contrast to the rest of the content. As you’ll see in our ebook, you need to make the call-to-action easy to convert. That means an obvious image or button, one that is placed correctly on your page.


Speaking of pages, you need a special page committed to the offer and you need a form that is easy to complete with only the most necessary information. Avoid the “Submit” (or die) message. Use positive language (the word “you” always helps, but not as a command).

Ultimately you want to generate sales leads because you know you have a product or service that can help people achieve their objectives. You are in this for all the right reasons, so go ahead and use the principles of persuasion to help others. You will be acting ethically.

To learn more about lead generation, download our free ebook today.

Ed Barr

Ed Barr

Edward Barr, author of Your Lizard Brain is Calling You, is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on neuromarketing. His experience as a professor and researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, and as a global marketing executive in for-profit and non-profit organizations, gives him a unique perspective on the emerging science of neuromarketing, along with a practical understanding of how to put this knowledge into action.

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