Inoculation Theory & Sales Application

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  • 0:04 Vaccines
  • 0:40 What Is Inoculation Theory?
  • 1:13 Sales Application
  • 2:06 Case Example
  • 3:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson discusses the fundamental concepts of inoculation theory. In addition to what this is, we'll go over an example of it in the world of sales.


Most of us have gotten quite a few vaccines in our lifetime, whether we're talking about the HPV vaccines some of us got as children to the routine flu vaccine most of us get every year. Vaccines help build up our body's resistance to a potentially deadly microorganism by inoculating the body with very small and relatively innocent versions (usually meaning dead) of those same microorganisms.

It turns out that the body isn't the only thing that can be inoculated to build up resistance; the mind can be inoculated as well. Let's find out how as we go over the basics of inoculation theory and how it applies to the world of sales.

What Is Inoculation Theory?

Inoculation theory is the supposition that a person can become resistant to persuasion. That is to say, if you prime a person's cognition (that is, their way of thinking) properly, they'll be better able to resist a persuasive argument in the future. In our lesson's case, the argument that you'll be priming them to resist is one that is detrimental to you.

It's important to note that it isn't so much that you are necessarily inoculating the person for their benefit (although this may be part of it in some cases). Rather, you're inoculating their mind for your benefit, for the benefit of maintaining them as a client.

Sales Application

To better understand this thinking, let's look at an analogy.

You know that the influenza virus causes the flu. It makes people feel miserable. We can prevent such miserable feelings, and therefore a person from getting sick with the flu, by inoculating them with a weaker version of the flu. The body then uses this experience of beating back an easy form of the virus in order to develop resistance to future infections with a much stronger version of it.

With respect to the inoculation theory and sales, a competitor's strong, persuasive argument is like a strong flu virus; it makes you feel miserable to lose a client, after all. However, this argument may be defeated. You can inoculate a customer's mind by offering up an easily-defeated, persuasive argument as to why they might switch to the competitor's product. The customer's mind easily defeats this softball argument and develops a resistance to the stronger, persuasive argument that the competitor offers them.

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