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Persuasion Through Competition

Dec 28, 2007
Lately I've been really dedicated to working out and recently I noticed something interesting at the gym. My gym is most definitely not a meat market. A very large percentage of the patrons are there because they care about their health and not for dating purposes or to see and be seen.

However, on occasion, I've noticed that as I ride the stationary bicycle, someone will hop on to the one next to me and I pick up my pace a little. It's not a conscious decision, really, but my other than conscious wanting to show off a little. It could be a desire not to be outdone.

Conversely, I have also noticed if I get on a machine next to someone, they'll often do the same thing. Most people have a high desire for competition. This drive may or may not be something we embrace. I'm a competitive person who embraces it. As a sales person I loved challenging myself using other people's records as benchmarks. I would constantly challenge myself to double or triple what the other sales people around me were doing.

You'll find the most vehement competition in places where there are limited resources. In the United States our whole culture is based on economic competition. Survival of the fittest. We don't go around trading or cooperating, for the most part, but competing for money, mates, parking spots. And when we go home at night and put our feet up, turn on the TV, we sit around and watch other people compete--sports, beauty contests, reality television.

As for my gym observation, this showed me how competition can be an added incentive for self improvement. Some part of my mind says that by showing the person on the next machine what I'm made of by working out harder or faster, then I'm only doing myself good. In this respect, competition can be healthy. A drinking contest is obviously an entirely different story.

So how can this base instinct be used most effectively for selling our products or services? Well, we see it all the time. . . two gas stations across the street from each other with slightly different prices, the lower of the two deciding to take that much less for the product. I'm not suggesting you lower your prices by any means, but through framing, we can show ourselves, our products, our services, as the answer in the minds of our affluent prospects and clients. 'I am by no means the cheapest, and in fact, I may be one of the more expensive realtors, but you really do get what you pay for.'

What is your relation to competition? Do you embrace it or shy away from it? And how can you begin to use it for persuasion purposes?
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches strategies to earn the business of affluent clients using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion strategies.
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