3 Scientifically-Proven Ways to Win Your Big Pitch

3 Scientifically-Proven Ways to Win Your Big Pitch

These three tactics can give your big pitch the push it needs to win over anyone.

While every proposal presents a different set of opportunities and challenges, almost all of your clients can be persuaded if you use tried-and-true selling principles for your big pitches.

For years, researchers have been studying the science behind persuasion tactics and the factors that make a person say “yes.”

When making a decision, it would be nice to think that people consider all the available information in order to reach the most logical conclusion. However, the reality is that different environmental, business, and personal factors have huge sway over influencing decisions.

There are a few principles of persuasion you should understand to put you at an advantage in a potential client’s decision-making process.  So if you’re trying to win that big pitch, try working in these scientifically-proven ways to persuade the client to say ‘yes!’

1) The Principle of Reciprocity

The first principle is simple: people are more likely to give back to others in the form of behaviors, gifts, or services if they’ve received some first. For example, if a friend invites you to their party, there’s an obligation for you to invite them to your party in the future.

Consciously, we don’t pay much attention to this type of behavior, because the act of returning a kind favor is a social norm. But it can be a valuable tool in the world of sales. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

One of the best studies of reciprocity was conducted amongst restaurant waiters. The goal was to determine whether or not leaving a gift for the patron when the bill came would increase the number of tips. The study showed surprising insight on how people reacted to receiving something as simple as a mint at the end of their meal.

In the first part of the study, waiters that gave a mint saw a 3% increase in the tip. When two mints were laid down, the percentage of the tip quadrupled. And this is where it gets interesting. If the waiter leaves a mint, walks away, turns back and says, “You fine people look like you deserve an extra mint,” and left another, the tips grew another 23%.

Use It In Your Sales Pitch

The persuasion principle of reciprocity can give you a huge leg up in any sales pitch. Taking a potential client out to lunch? Pay for the bill, and offer to expense the taxi home. A lead or customer might not buy immediately after receiving your gift, but when they are ready to buy, it’s likely they’ll remember their obligation to the salesman who gave them something and be more open to the possibility of purchasing from them.

Another approach is to bring in product samples or demos for the potential customer to keep. Be the first to give and make sure that what you give is personalized and unexpected. Follow up your pitch with a thank you card and/or additional gift, like tickets to a sporting event you know they’ll appreciate.

2) Principle of Consensus

Especially when dealing with an uncertain mindset, rely on the fact that people will look to the action or behavior of others to influence their own. If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel, you may have noticed that there’s a small card in the bathrooms to encourage guests to reuse their towels. Most hotels do this by drawing the guests’ attention to the benefits reuse can have on environmental protection. This led to 35% compliance industry-wide.

Another study took it further, putting a sign that read, “75% of our guests reuse their towels, please do so as well.” This caused the compliance rate to raise 26%. One step further, the study posted a message that read, “75%of people in this room reuse their towels.” It turns out that changing even just a few words on the sign, a message that honestly points out what comparable previous guests have done, was the single most effective message, leading to a 33% increase in reuse.

Use It In Your Sales Pitch

When it comes to the principle of consensus, the science is showing us that rather than solely relying on our own ability to sell others on a proposal, we can already point to what others are doing, especially those in similar situations. If you’re trying to sell a service to a potential client, and you know that two of their competitors have already hired services in the same vein, make that a stand-out point in your presentation.

3) The Principle of Authority

You’ve probably heard of the Milgram experiments, in which volunteers were encouraged to deliver electric shocks to unseen subjects, even though they could hear (faked) screams of pain. All that was needed for people to continue administering the shocks was a man wearing a lab coat telling them to continue.

The point of the study was to show that people will listen to people as long as they think of them as an authority figure; in this case, the “scientist” wearing a lab coat. People are hardwired to respond to authority (or the appearance of authority), which is good news for your upcoming pitch.

Use It In Your Sales Pitch

While you can’t go around telling people how brilliant you are (although it doesn’t hurt to remind them from time to time), you can hire people to do it for you. For example, many companies hire celebrity spokespeople to appear in commercials, brochures, and other marketing materials, touting product benefits and providing their approval. While you might not be able to afford a celebrity appearance at every pitch, presenting marketing materials such as case studies or testimonials showing that you do have an endorsement will put your offer ahead of the rest.

Final Note

Each customer and company you meet with have a different set of problems they are trying to solve, yet most individuals can be persuaded with the same selling tactics. Let the above principles guide you as you prepare for your next big pitch, and use these scientifically proven tactics to convince your client to say yes!

Tim Brown is a web designer and SEO specialist who runs a small agency called Hook Agency, often doing work for startups. He loves helping small to mid-sized businesses with their website design and SEO needs.