Gain a Superior Edge in Sales

For a very long time we’ve had the outlook that job titles are a load of bull****.

We’ve never really thought that there was any weight (influence) behind someone having a superior title such as manager, director or whatever it is. But, on reflection we need to put our hands up and say we were wrong.

We were recently studying an incredible book called

  • Influence -by Robert Cialdini

If you haven’t read it, then go out and buy it, it’s a fantastic read and so valuable for every single sales person out there. 



To succinctly explain the book, basically it focuses on human psychology, and what techniques we as humans are susceptible to when it comes to influence. We would position this as one of the most insightful books for a sales person to read if they want to learn about how to lead any sales conversation and close more sales.

The point we want to highlight to those reading this article, is something mentioned in the book around Titles. Especially those of authority, and the effect that such status can have.

Titles of Authority

In Cialdini’s book, he mentions the example of a midwestern hospital in the USA. The researchers, a group of doctors and nurses were concerned about the conformity of nurses, as Cialdini puts it, mechanical obedience. Their concern was that nurses would fall foul by obediently following any doctor’s orders irrespective of factors such as their judgement, safety, guidelines etc.

So they put this to a test, they conducted an experiment specifically testing how the job title of a person influences other people, in this case the doctor title. So that the experiment focused solely on job title, they removed any physical authority, the experiment would be conducted via a phone call to a nurse in a hospital, where the caller would claim to be a doctor.

The doctor would ask the nurse to prescribe 20mg of a drug called Astrogen to a specific patient.

The nurse instantly would have many concerns spring to their mind including:

  • It’s a violation of hospital policy, I can’t take such orders from just a phone call
  • The drug Astrogen is unauthorised
  • The dose is dangerously excessive
  • I don’t know this man on the phone, how do I know he’s a doctor?

Experiment Findings

Now despite such concerns like the high dose, 95% of the time the nurses would progress with following such orders, until the researchers stopped them just before applying the dose.

Just think back to the start of this experiment. These nurses didn’t know anything about the person on the phone, they merely claimed to be a doctor, which in itself held such a level of esteem that 95% of them followed such orders, even though they were aware that this didn’t follow protocol and they had significant concerns.

This, on its own, demonstrates the power that a job title can give. It has a level of gravitas that carries through, and can be so influential that it can cause people to disregard even their own views – such as the concerns that the nurses would have had in this example.

Relation to Sales

In our next article, we’ll delve into greater depth into how you can apply this to your sales role. In the meantime process this information and think about how powerful a superior job title can be.

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