You’ve spent countless hours crafting the perfect sales message.
You’ve researched your target audience.
Analyzed their pain points.
Built a compelling solution to their problems.
You’re ready to show your creation on the world and watch the sales roll in.
But here’s the harsh truth.
Your sales message doesn’t matter as much as you think.
Sure, it’s important to have a strong message that resonates with your audience.
But what makes the difference is not what you say.
It’s something else.
Let me prove it to you.
Would you do something you know is wrong just because someone from your government told you to do it?
A psychologist from Yale tried to answer that question in the 1960s.
He developed a series of experiments.
These experiments involved naive participants who thought they were taking part in a study on memory and learning.
Little did they know, they were about to become pawns in a twisted game of obedience and power.
They told the participants to administer electric shocks to another person — the “learner” — every time he got an answer wrong.
The shocks increased in intensity with each mistake.
Some of them were labeled with warnings like “danger: severe shock” and “XXX”.
But here’s the kicker: the “learner” was actually an actor, and there were no real shocks involved.
So what did the participants do when faced with the task of inflicting pain to another person?
Most of them went along with it, even when the “learner” begged them to stop and screamed in agony.
They did it because the person in charge — the “experimenter” — told them to.
They did it because they thought it was their duty.
The experiment was conducted in the aftermath of the trial of Adolf Eichmann.
He was a Nazi general who was responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
Eichmann’s defense was that he was “just following orders” from his superiors.
Therefore, the question.
Would ordinary people behave the same under similar circumstances?
That was the goal of the experiment.
The final results were shocking.
Despite the obvious distress of the learner and the potential danger of the shocks, a staggering two thirds of the participants continued to administer shocks.
Sometimes, all the way up to the greatest voltage level.
Simply because the authority figure told them to do so.
Here’s another quite shocking fact.
Some people who hesitated to keep going after hearing the learner scream were willing to proceed to the higher volts once urged to do so by the authority figure.
What does this have to do with sales?
The same principle applies. People follow authorities.
People are more likely to act on a message if it comes from someone they perceive as an authority.
People are more likely to buy a product if an authority promotes it.
Think about it.
Why do we trust doctors, lawyers, and other professionals?
Because they have credentials and experience that make them experts in their field.
We assume that they know what they’re talking about.
So we’re more likely to take their advice and follow their recommendations.
The same principle applies in sales.
Even if your sales message itself is not particularly compelling or persuasive, people may still be more likely to act on it if it comes from someone who is perceived as an authority in the field.
It’s not about what you say.
It’s about who you are.
It’s not about how persuasive you sound.
It’s about how much I can trust your words.
It’s not about overcoming my skepticism and resistance.
It’s about decreasing my defenses.
In other words…
Who are you? And why should I listen to you?
Sometimes, it can be as easy as putting a lab coat on.
Sometimes, it requires more effort.
But the results of the Milgram (the Yale psychologist) series of experiments are clear.
The messenger matters more than the message.
“The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far-reaching consequence of submission to authority.”
― Stanley Milgram