The 6 Principles of Persuasion by Cialdini (And Why You Need to Master Them)

Pharmacy TimesJanuary 2019 Vaccine-Preventable Disease
Volume 85
Issue 1

At Pharmacy Development Services (pds), we believe that independent pharmacy owners like yourself deserve to thrive because independent pharmacies improve the quality of patient care.

PDS has been helping independent pharmacies grow for over 20 years. We found that the most significant obstacle for a pharmacy owner isn’t coming up with new ideas—it’s communicating them to staff members and patients.

In other words: it’s a sales problem.

In 1984, Dr. Cialdini published a book called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

It explored the science behind persuasion and how to get some- one to do what you want.

If you’re struggling to get your employees on board with new programs or to get prescribers to accept your recommendations, you and your staff need to master the 6 Principles of Persuasion by Dr. Cialdini.


Also known as the “obligation to receive”—the first principle says that people are more likely to say “yes” to you when they feel indebted to you.

In other words, if you give something to someone, they’ll be obliged to provide you with something in return.

Or, agree to your request.

Think about a birthday you had.

When you received a gift from a friend, you felt like you needed to give your friend a gift on their birthday too, right?

That’s the rule of reciprocity in action.

How can you apply this to your business?

Give out free samples of your products, educate your patients and help solve their problems. It can even be as small as giving a mint candy before talking to a patient.

If you can, be the first to give and make your gift personalized and memorable.


People want things they can’t have.

For example, if Starbucks announced that they’d no longer be making their Pumpkin Spiced lattes a week from today, there will be a significant increase of Pumpkin Spice latte orders for the whole week.

Even though the latte itself hasn’t changed (the same price, quality, and taste), the perceived value of the Pumpkin Spice Latte will increase because of scarcity.

When talking to a patient, you have to highlight what they stand to lose if they don’t take up your offer.

Massage the pain points of your patient and make it clear that your product or service is the best solution.


People are more likely to follow credible experts.

We’re taught early on to adhere to authority, and it’s one of the many ways we learn.

It’s the same reason why we are more trusting of people in a uniform (like police officers or doctors).

In business, you must make sure to leverage your credentials. These credentials can be your experience, any awards you’ve won, or your history of providing your patients the best results.

A great way to establish authority is to put out valuable content that helps solves patients’ problems. Pharmacies can do this by leveraging local media, appearing on a TV or radio segment or contributing an article to a local newspaper.


People like to be consistent with the things they’ve said or done.

For example, a healthcare center found a way to reduce missed appointments by 18% by asking their patients to fill out appointment details on their own instead of asking one of the staff members to do it.

Because the patient has already said “yes” before (by agreeing to fill out their appointment details), they’ll be more likely to say “yes” again to stay consistent with their actions.

In this case, show up to their appointment!

You can do this as a pharmacy owner.

If you can, have your patient or staff commit to something small first.

You can ask a patient to try a new drug for a day or scheduling a quick 10-minute meeting with your staff to talk about a new marketing tactic.

You’ll find that they’ll be more receptive to future, more essential suggestions because they want to stay consistent.


This one’s easy. The more you like someone, the more you’ll be persuaded by them.

But, how do you get someone to like you? In general, we like people who:

• Are like us

• Pay us compliments

• Cooperate with us

Before you start negotiating, share something personal about yourself and try to look for similarities (even if it’s something superficial like mentioning your shirts are the same color).

Another tip: give out genuine compliments and smile when you’re talking to people.

It can go a long way, this is proven.


People will look at the actions of others to determine their own. It’s especially powerful when you’re unsure of what to do in a situation.

For example, if you saw a mob of people running away in one direction, there’s a good chance you’re going to run in that direction too.

Even if you’re unsure what you’re running from or if there is actual danger in the other direction--you will act without thinking. In your business, use testimonials and social proof to establish consensus.

When someone sees that other people have had a pleasant experience talking to you, they will be more open to working with you as well.


These 6 Principles of Persuasion have been used by marketers and businesses for years, and to this day, they’re just as effec- tive. It’s critical that independent pharmacy owners learn these skills to thrive.

For the first time, PDS is teaching pharmacy owners and their team essential communication skills so they can ethically and effectively influence those around them.

In our 15th Annual Super-Conference on February 21 to 23, 2019, in Orlando, Florida, you will learn how to grow your business through sales.

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