Current research tells us the average person thinks about themselves, and how the world impacts them as an individual, almost every minute they are awake. Their brain is constantly monitoring the environment alert to physical and emotional danger and opportunities. In less than a second the brain can flood the body with chemicals driving a ‘fight or flight’ or a ‘this sounds great’ response.
As funny as it sounds, in business I continue to find people who think a person’s response to a sales pitch or a request for support will be different just because it is not a social situation. This is dangerous thinking and can lead to wasteful expenditure of money and emotional capital.
My business partners and I were examining a great product developed by people with outstanding credentials and who seemed to know their target market. Despite good promotion and a strong message which brought in some early wins, it remained languishing as an ‘also ran’ product. At the same time a less developed product with fewer capabilities had grown to dominate the market.
We quizzed the developers who were consistent in their responses.
- They had developed the most advanced product in the market – no one else could come near it technically
- They always made a big effort to deliver a great presentation
- They seemed to be in the right place at the right time early on – now they seemed to be always catching up in the sales process The consistent message we noticed was our client was focusing on how good they were.
Place yourself in their mind
When you need to influence an outcome or want someone to purchase your product or service the first thing you need to do is understand their situation. The research we mentioned earlier tells us the person you are trying to influence cares very little for you or your company, only for them. Your telephone call, email or letter is an interruption. You need a way to help the person you want to influence see your product or service making their life better. If you can do this they will start to consider what their life might be like with you or your product or service in it.
This is easier said than done as you also spend most of your time considering yourself. After all you are a human being as well. You think of yourself as someone special, with intelligence and you know what is good for your customer.
I have watched with interest advertisements for the iPad and new Intel Surface computer. Both show people in real situations with their lives enriched because of the device. While they talk about the quality of the display, the discussion is about the way your life will be if you use the device. Not the fact one has so many mega pixels. Each time the advertisment shows my whole family wants one – each one for their own reason.
There is a painfully simple yet important lesson to be learned here. When it comes to influencing people or getting them to make a buying decision it is their expectation of what you are asking them to do or buy which will make their mind up. Not what you think is right or wrong.
You can tell the story enthusiastically and with passion, using the best multi-media presentation with endorsements by the best personalities. If you do not know what the person thinks about you are, at best, putting on a show in hope someone listens. People decide to buy on the basis of expectation – what they perceive the decision will do for them and in their life. If your product or service fits into that perception you have a sale. If not then you don’t. It is as simple as that.
The company was investing enormous amounts of time and effort into selling the inventors idea. He had come up with the idea and made a number of initial sales. Now the company was talking with people who were unfamiliar with the inventor and the concepts he presented.
By changing the perception of the company owners and the way the product and services were presented made an immediate and enormous difference. People like you and do business with you because they can picture you and your product or service working in their life. The better you are at helping people place you in their life the more successful you will be.
Questions and this weeks activities
There is nothing mysterious about what we did. It required a few simple changes. Try these and you will see your level of influence change quickly and dramatically;
- Engage your customer in a discussion about their business and their life using a reflective questioning style. You will be surprised what you will find simply by being genuinely interested and scratching under the surface.
- Once you have established some rapport ask questions like “Have you considered …?” and “What happens when…?”
- Paint a picture using words like “Can you imagine leaving the office early confident …?” or “Can you hear your team celebrating knowing …?”
Leave your own ideas at the office – even better, in the shredder. They are great ideas if you are buying – but you are selling and you need to become a part of the buyers concept they are thinking about all the time.