People in many different professions use social engineering as a tool in everyday life. In the case of sales, social engineering plays a significant role in persuading potential customers to buy a product or service. This is done using a social engineering technique known as Influence Tactics. These tactics build trust, establish a connection, and provide value, to the customer or client. In this article, we will consider some of these tactics.

Liking Technique

This technique involves the salesperson building a relationship with the potential customer by creating a friendly and warm atmosphere. People like what is familiar to them. So, an effective salesperson actively listens to their customers and validates their feelings. They find common ground to connect with them on any level they can. For example, even things as little as a shared shoe brand or favorite coffee can bridge the gap. A salesperson may even offer innocent compliments to the customer themselves or about the company to keep them engaged and provide positive reinforcement. By doing so they create a sense of familiarity. The customer feels like they are talking to a friend, not just an employee or rep. As a result, the salesperson gains the customer’s trust, making it more likely that they will make a purchase or seal the deal.

Scarcity Tactics

This is an all-time classic when it comes to sales techniques. Scarcity tactics create a sense of urgency around a product or service, making it more appealing to the potential customer. This is done by highlighting the limited availability of the product using artificial time constraints, and how much time is left to take advantage of a promotion or offer. Doing so emphasizes the exclusivity of the product. This technique creates a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) in the customer. Which in turn increases their likelihood of making a purchase.

Influence Techniques in Everyday Life

Authority Tactics

This technique involves the salesperson presenting themselves as an expert. They may explain how long they have been in the business field, display certifications to show their experience, or prove their familiarity with the product. This is done to gain the customer’s trust and make them more likely to make a purchase. Of course, the salesperson may indeed be an expert with knowledge about a product. However, in a competitive environment, the salesperson uses authority to help them stand out from the rest. This makes the customer believe that they are the ”go-to person” for all their needs. A salesperson can also use authority to bolster the credibility of the company she or he works for. For example, giving reasons why they are the “leaders in the industry.”

A Good Salesperson has a Pretext!

Pretexting is used in multiple professions such as public speaking, lawyers, etc. Pretexting is especially helpful in the world of sales. Regardless of the profession though, pretexting requires research and good information gathering techniques. A salesperson may gather information on competitors such as price points. They may also gather information on the client or their business that they are selling to. This information helps the salesperson decide what they will say, and how they will say it. It also helps them to plan out their influence techniques wisely, and the best course of action to get their customer to seal the deal. A good pretext is also an essential part of building trust.

Sales with Ethics

It is important to note that salespeople should use these tactics ethically while making deals. In fact, we do well to remember that the tactics we just discussed are Influence techniques, NOT Manipulation. An ethical salesperson will never use these tactics to make a customer feel uncomfortable or threatened…even if it means a “more successful” outcome. If you leave your potential customer or client feeling worse for having met you, they may leave negative reviews, or not sign on or re-sign, if they’ve been tricked initially.

Our motto at Social-Engineer LLC is “Leave them feeling better for having met you.” Regardless of what role social engineering plays in your profession, it is important to stay true to a code of ethics however we choose to use it. In the sales world, the best outcome is when both the salesperson and the customer benefit.

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Written by: Josten Peña