The Principle of Consistency

Jul 12, 2016 | Sales/Sales Training

By Tom Mann, Principal, Executive Vice President

Tom Mann of Love & Company, Marathon runningIn our last blog, I talked about the power of listening. Selling to boomers or seniors? Here’s what a good friend of mine, Dick Ambrosius advises, “The three steps to moving the prospect quickly through the sales cycle: 1) Listen 2) Listen and 3) Listen. If you are listening to understand rather than to overcome objections, the prospect will guide you to the secret to closing.”

I couldn‘t agree more.

I also believe that in addition to having refined listening skills, understanding human behavior is a key tool for any mature market sales person. As promised, today we are going to talk about the first of six principles of influence (Consistency, Likability, Authority, Social Proof, Scarcity, and Reciprocity) as taught by Dr. Robert Cialdini, a research professor out of Arizona State University. Specifically, we are going to talk about the first principle, the Principle of Consistency.

Consistency. Once people publicly agree or say something out loud, they are much more likely to hold to that agreement. Example? I happened to be attending a New Year’s Eve party several years ago when one of my slightly inebriated sisters decided to run a marathon as her New Years’ resolution (she was turning 50 that year). She then made all of her siblings in attendance, including me, swear to join her. And she did this in front of the rest of the party attendees. She then followed up with frequent reminders of how we had all committed to run. Now, keep in mind, that at the time we were all out of shape, didn’t believe in exercise, and thought a good jog was from the couch to the refrigerator, so 26.7 miles was crazy talk!

And guess what it worked, four of us finished the marathon with her. Since then, I used this same technique on myself and have publicly committed to all sorts of crazy things. It usually works. I’ve run in 10 marathons in 10 different states!

According to Dr. Cialdini, if you want to ensure that a customer’s decision is long lasting, and unshakable, make sure this decision is:


In other words, make sure that the customer is not strong armed (in fact, know exactly what type of contract to offer them). Nothing will kill the possibility of a long-term relationship faster than a starving salesperson on commission. But assuming all goes well, make sure that the customer does not keep this decision a secret. Even if your customer just writes their commitment down or signs his name, the decision will be stronger than before. And, if we arrange for our customer to tell others, even other staff members, the decision becomes even more permanent.

So what’s this mean to you?

Well, let’s use the contract process as an example.

Do you want to cut down your number of cancellations dramatically? Just have your customer, rather than your salesperson, fill out the sales agreement. Why? The mere act of filling out the contract creates a condition of consistency that most people don’t want to break.

Then, tell the person you’re dealing with that you can tell by looking at them, and the way they act, that you know they will follow through with their contract because you can tell that they are an honorable person. You might think that’s flattery, but our clients’ sales teams mean it when they say it, and it makes the prospective resident feel honorable. Everyone wants to feel important, and they want to measure up to other people’s expectations. In short, they want our vision of them to be consistent. Think that level of commitment is important in this real estate market?

Also, when a new member or resident signs up, I like to turn it into a celebration … I introduce all the staff to the newest member … I take a Polaroid of us together and hang it on the “family” wall. They’ve now committed in front of other people. These photos become visual evidence or reminders that we have made a commitment to each other. One that I consider sacred and will go out of my way to honor — ABOVE AND BEYOND! And the best part is that people want to measure up to what they have said they would do. The hard part, but also the part that is most fun, is that it is then in your court. You now have to over-deliver because you want to be consistent with what YOU said!

Next blog … Likability.

Latest Insights