Perhaps the most delicate and most difficult process among all the four steps of persuasion is inducing decision and action. When one reflects upon the multitudinous important decisions made and actions taken every hour, it hardly seems possible that it can be so difficult to induce our fellow-men to make the short step from hesitant desire to definite decision. The truth is, of course, that in the making of almost any important decision there is a stern conflict between conflicting desires. Take, for example, a man buying an automobile. Under the skilful persuasive power of the salesman, he has vividly pictured to himself enjoying possession. But this is not his only mental picture. Perhaps he has a picture of his old age, in which he might enjoy the income from the money which would go into an automobile. There are also in his mind mental pictures of half a dozen to a dozen or more other makes of automobiles. In addition to these, there may be a mental picture of a motor boat, a little cottage by the sea, a new set of furniture for his house, new fittings for his store, an increased advertising appropriation, a new insurance policy, a trip to California and return, and goodness only knows how many other objects of desire. It is no wonder he hesitates and that he must be very skilfully and deftly brought to the point of decision.
For this reason, experience has shown that many people, perhaps the majority of people, can be induced to decide whether they will have red rubber or gray rubber tires on an automobile they contemplate purchasing far more easily than they can be induced to decide definitely that they will purchase the car. Having decided upon the tires, however, they can be asked to decide upon other minor points, including the terms upon which they intend to pay for the car, and thus eventually go through the entire process of purchasing the car without ever giving their delicate mental mechanism the severe shock and strain of deciding to purchase it at all. As a general rule, such people are surprised and delighted to find that they have made the decision so easily and with so little pain and distress.
But this method will not work with all people. There are some natures so positive, so aggressive, so fond of taking the initiative, so determined to make their own decisions without interference that the wise salesman or persuader apparently permits them to have their own way, at the same time skilfully guiding them in the way he wishes them to go by means of indirect suggestion.