It seems that there’s a drug to fix every conceivable problem we humans have. You will not therefore be surprised to learn that there’s even one that will help us close more sales. It’s called 1,3, 7-trimethylxanthin and you can buy it over the counter anywhere.
In a research project that was published in January 2005 edition of The Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Pearl Martin and some colleagues sought to assess the persuasive power of this drug on people confronted by a controversial issue.
Half the participants in the study were given an orange juice drink that had been laced with the drug and the other half were given a clean drink then all the participants were asked to consider a series of arguments that were advocating a certain position on a controversial issue.
Those people who had consumed the laced beverage prior to reviewing the argument were 35% more favorably disposed to the position that those who had consumed the clean drink.
The common name of 1,3, 7-trimethylxanthin is caffeine. So the practical implication of this study is that before you go into a sales presentation that may involve inviting your client to consider a service solution that may be “out there” be sure to give her a cup of coffee or tea beforehand.
Bearing in mind that the effect of the caffeine may take between 40 minutes to impact it would also be a good idea to re-group and restate the key benefits of your offering midway through your presentation and not to allocate too short a time for the presentation.
The big, and serious, point of this study is that people will tend to be more persuaded by a position when they are alert which, in addition to administering caffeine may also mean you should not do important sales presentations after lunch — I always used to schedule initial consultations (sales presentations) first thing in the morning!
It is also important to note that in a second study, the researchers found that participants were not persuaded by weak arguments simply because they had been administered caffeine. In other words your proposals need to be genuine, well reasoned and competently presented.
I became aware of this research from reading Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Goldstein, Martin and Cialdini. And if you’re interested also take a look at Cialdini’s path-breaking book called Influence that has been a catalyst for a lot of recent research into how to be be more effective in influencing peoples’ behavior. It’s absolutely amazing how science can be applied in practical everyday situations to improve our productivity and performance.