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Persuasion: The psychology of the sale

Cheeky Employee


Calling all Sellers!

Use these tricks to get that deal!

Calling all Buyers!

Be prepared to dodge these tricks!

These are persuasion techniques that have been used for ages in pursuit of an easy sell.  Use these to lightly sway people to see it your way or be forewarned and thus forearmed against these common tricks of the trade.  Psychologists have been so kind as to document some of these techniques so we can avoid or employ them more effectively.


Persuasion techniques:

The foot-in-the-door technique

gets someone to comply with a large request by first making a small request.

Could you help me move a box for me, please?  Seems simple enough until a moving van pulls up.  Oh, and just one or two more if you would be so kind.


The bait-and-switch technique

involves making a great offer and then switching to a less desirable offer.

Come with me and I’ll provide everything you need for a perfect holiday for the sweet, low price of R1 000.  You only need this tent and some imagination, right?


The labelling technique

involves assigning a label to an individual and then requesting a favour that is consistent with that label.

A strong man like you probably keeps fit and healthy.  Hands you a gym membership form. 


The legitimisation-of-paltry-favours technique

involves asking for a very small contribution in order to get a larger contribution.

You can afford to give a small sum of R20 to this very worthy cause, even on a busy day, can’t you?  Does the maths.  That’s R7 500 in a year!


The door-in-the-face technique

involves making an inflated request (that will most likely be rejected) and then retreating to a smaller request. (It only works if the first request is not too extreme and if the same person makes both requests.)

Hey pretty lady what about R300 for this lovely flower.  No?  Well, just because I want you to have good luck today I’ll give it to you for R30.


The that’s-not-all technique

begins with an inflated request that is quickly followed by a discount or bonus.

I know the price seems high, but remember you will be getting this vacuum with its custom shaped travel bag, 50 detachable nozzles, 34 different coloured bodies and two extension cables.  Uum, I just wanted a cheap hand-vacuum. 


With the limited-number technique,

the customer is told that items exist in a limited supply.

There are only five of these unique creations left so get it now before the massive, mass-production factory shuts down forever and it’s too late. 



I hope I got a smile from some of these ridiculous examples, but remember that they’ll need to be more subtle to work in real life.  So hone your skills and keep your wits about you.  Persuasion is a skill that may have limitless value.


  1. Cobus van Graan says:

    I think it works…. Because I fell for it numerous times :-). Once my child of 6 years old used one of the techniques on me and said: “Dad, would you please buy a chocolate or an icecream for me?” That is not a question… That is only a choice!

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