Making a Compelling Case

In sales, two people can work for the same organization, selling the same product or service, and yet one person might be highly successful, whereas the other struggles mightily. How can that be when they’re selling to essentially the same customer base? Often, it’s the case because one person knows how to make their case compellingly.

In Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., put it succinctly when he wrote, “Having a compelling case to make is not the same as making a case compellingly.”

How do the principles of persuasion help you make your good case more compelling? Below I’ll share three examples using the principles of scarcity, social proof, and authority.

1. Scarcity: Turn Fear of Loss into Action

Scarcity tells us people naturally want more of what they can’t have and desire things to a greater extent when they believe it might be in short supply. Scarcity triggers FOMO, the fear of missing out. How can you use scarcity without coming across as a fear monger?

“Our service will save you $XXX per year,” is not as compelling as saying, “Without implementing a solution similar to ours, you’ll continue to lose $XXX a year because you’ll be overpaying.”

Invoking an honest form of loss is much more compelling than talking about saving when it comes to motivating people to take action. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky proved this when they statistically showed that human beings feel the pain of loss anywhere from 2 to 2 1/2 times more than the joy of gaining the same thing. In other words, you’ll work much harder to avoid losing something than you will to save the very same thing.

How can you honestly bring scarcity into your sales presentation?

2. Social Proof: Harness the Power of Similar Others

Social proof is the human desire to follow the crowd. We’ve learned over time that everyone can’t be wrong and there’s safety in numbers. So, following the lead of people who are similar usually works out well.

Failure to let a prospective client know about others who are like them, who are benefiting from your services, would be a big mistake. People want to know people similar to them are benefitting from what you offer. That allows them to envision how your services might benefit them too.

Are you missing opportunities to invoke social proof when talking to prospective customers?

3. Authority: Move from Opinion to Expertise

Along those same lines, missing the opportunity to utilize the principle of authority lowers your odds of hearing, “Yes!” Despite having the internet at our fingertips, we still feel most comfortable when a perceived expert is giving us advice.

A big mistake salespeople make is stating something as their opinion. If the salesperson, or their organization, is viewed as an industry leader, then they might get away with this. However, seldom will your opinion be as effective as mentioning how perceived experts view the efficacy of your service. And the more expertise you can bring to bear, the better. That’s because people will contend less with recognized experts than they will with your opinion.

Where are your opportunities to bring legitimate expertise into your sales presentations?


Understanding these principles might seem intuitive because they tap into fundamental aspects of human nature. However, knowledge alone isn’t enough; it’s the application of what you know that counts. Wisdom is the bridge between knowledge and action. I encourage you to be wise and thoughtfully apply these principles in your interactions with prospective and current clients.

Edited by ChatGPT

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE and a faculty member at the Cialdini Institute

An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers in the world, Brian was personally trained and endorsed by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to use influence at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 650,000 people around the world. His TEDx Talk on pre-suasion has more than a million views!

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