The Curious Secret to Getting People to Believe You

Ever wonder how you could get more people to believe you?

It’s easy, actually. And quite odd the way it works.

What’s the secret? Never tell a man more than he’ll believe.

Sounds like a moron statement, right?

Let me explain why it’s not.

The Law of Diminishing Credibility

There’s a law of diminishing returns directly tied to the law of diminishing credibility.

Even if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a home will triple in price in the next 5 years, if you have any concern that the buyer might find what you say hard to believe, it’s best to leave that information out.

See, the moment your claim passes the point of believability, credibility drops off like a rock.

In the 60’s some brilliant ad men took advantage of this.

Selling the Ugliest Car in the World

Remember the old Volkswagen sedan with the rag top that hadn’t changed in 20 years, the round top one?

One of the ugliest cars ever made.

In addition, it didn’t have any extra features that any ad man could talk about. Only later years did it have a gas gauge.

You could get so many miles on a tank of gas that you simply drove it until you ran out of gas and then switched to a small reserve tank that held more than enough fuel to get you to the closest gas station.

When the Doyle, Dane + Bernbach agency was given this account, they must have groaned.

What could you say about the car?

It only had two features: it was cheap to run and it was reliable. But everyone already knew that.

What more could they say about it?

Then they hit on a brilliant flash of inspiration: they decided to tell the truth.

I can imagine every ad man in America coming off their chairs and saying, “You are going to do what?”

Doyle, Dane + Bernbach ran a whole series of ads that said, “This car is ugly. It looks like a bug. A beetle.”

“This car is slow. You’ll be lucky if you ever get a ticket.”

The results of the campaign?

Phenomenal. People loved the campaign and sales shot up.

The truth. Simple, pristine truth is an astounding force. And these ad men had touched on a very important key of persuasion: if you point out the disadvantages, it makes everything else you say more believable.

How This Works in Real Estate

In real estate this might mean being frank with others about a house with some real issues, like its small, only has two bedrooms or one bathroom. The roof hasn’t been shingled in 25 years. It’s so old there isn’t central air and heating.

But once you have the disadvantages out of the way, then you can share the advantages.

“Quaint cottage with a historical background. Nice for one, maybe one-and-a-half, with ambition and muscle and a tad bit of cash.”

Isn’t that curious how that works?

By positioning the disadvantages first, you view the advantages in a whole different light. And it is a whole lot easier to swallow.

Besides, when we see an ad for a home that says “great home, lots of potential” don’t we immediately think, “Money pit.”

This rule of persuasion says this: never tell a person more than you think they’ll believe.

In fact, tell them the truth, share with them the disadvantages first, then move onto the advantages and you’ll have a captive audience.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 11 comments
Ruby Zuniga

This blog made me smile, maybe giggle with enthusiasm for our housing Market. I’m one to beleive that all is positive, even when it seems otherwise.

Gary Elwood

Yeah, Ruby, I kind of had that thought in mind as I was writing this. I was reminded of a comment that Chris Gidding left on one of my short sales posts where basically he said that it was imperative in this market to stand firm and remain honest and authentic. Real estate is a noble professional, and we have to portray that.

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Ruby Zuniga

Hey its me again. today is 10-29-07. It’s funny because A volkswagon commercial appeared on our TV. My husband made a negative comment about the Car. I instantly caught on and gave him the “beutiness of the ugliness”. He looked at me and said, yeah I guess some people do like that. Again Great Article.

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Nic Smith

The principal outlined regarding describing a house in two different fashions is called “reframing” in psychological paralance and it is very usefuil when setting the groundwork for the arena in which the conversation about the home (or any other topic) is conducted.

There is one caveat however; the reframe should not conceal issues; for example describing the 25-year age of the house as having a “historical background.” If I were to have read that description without having foreknowledge of it’s age, it would have been a meaningless statement to me.
We need to be extra careful with euphemisms, you know, the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt. As an example, I’m reminded of the medical euphemism used in hospitals of “negative patient outcome” for “the patient died.”

As an investigator who has spent the last 35 years dealing with liars and cheats in all walks of life and professions, sometimes they mislead themselves through the use of euphemisms, such as

I totally agree with the author that there is a great benefit in getting the obstacles to the sale out of the way in the beginning, because the potential buyer will remember that which was discussed later on in the conversation, especially if that later part of the conversation is a happy one that produces a good feeling (Psychology101).

And its doubly important to discern the potential client’s ability to understand what you are talking about. Which is why the common dictum is keep your conversaton at a 12th grade level or lower, depending upon the circumstances.

The old adage ‘caveat emptor-let the buyer beware” is not a good business practice and certainly not an ethical one.


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