Scarcity - Methods of Influence for Persuasive Presentations (6/6)

Scarcity - one of the six methods of influence identified by Dr Cialdini – is anything but scarce in the marketplace. We are exposed to scarcity marketing tactics on a daily basis. It’s impossible to walk into a supermarket without seeing a sign urging you to hurry, buy now – 2 for 1 – while stocks last. And it’s those last three words, while stocks last, that trigger us into buying the extra cans of soup, or packets of cereal. If it was always 2-for-1 we’d come back next week, but “while stocks last” creates a tension in us and triggers action.


Given that you want your audience to take some action after your sales presentation, at least in terms of further engagement with you, how can scarcity be used an influencing method? 

In the reciprocity post, we discussed the benefit of having material to give away. Remember, whatever you choose to give away for free shouldn’t be something that cost you a lot to create. You can use scarcity to “up the ante”, as it were, with actions that require more investment from you. For example:

  • You could offer a fixed number of half-price consultations, or an offer that time expires on a set date
  • You could apply the supermarket-style 2 for 1 offer against your standard offerings, with a set time limit
  • You could give away a set number of books completely free on a first come, first served basis, while offering additional copies at half-price – after all, you don’t want to carry them home with you

Some people feel that offers of this sort are too pushy. That can be case for some audiences. However, in making your decision whether to use scarcity as an influencing method or not, you ought to at least consider the case for deploying the technique.

If you deliver your sales presentation well, there will be people in your audience who are ready to take the next step. If you state clearly that your scarcity offer is specifically for those in the room, it’s not to try and persuade people who are undecided and want to take more time, that’s fine – let them do that. However, if those people who are ready to take the next step, are willing to commit here and now, that clearly reduces your marketing overhead and your willing to acknowledge that in the price they pay. It’s simple, straightforward, polite and respectful of everyone’s positions. You just have to find the courage to say it.

This six-part series is based on Robert Cialdini’s methods of influencing people, as per his pivotal 1984 text Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion. We have adapted the six methods of influence to illustrate their applicability to the creation and delivery of memorable, more persuasive sales presentations.


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