Supersuasion: The Curry and Thyme of Persuasion Techniques

Posted by on Apr 9, 2015 in Change, Presentations, Sales | 0 comments

Persuasion is a topic that most of my clients are interested in.  “How can I get my people to just get on board?” I get asked a lot.  They would love if I could teach them something called “supersuasion” and today I found a way to do just that in an article I read by Kevin Dutton in the Scientific American Mind March/April 2010, The Power to Persuade. He simplified it with an acronym “SPICE”:  Simplicity, Perceived self-interest, Incongruity, Confidence and Empathy.  So clearly he used the SPICE acronym to make it simple for us – helping us to buy in.  I’m just surprised he didn’t use a three letter acronym because he emphasized the tricolon – the magic of three, a well known speakers device:  think “I came, I saw, I conquered”.    What was fascinating was his reference to the research on predicting the complexity of a recipe and willingness to cook it by just the typeface it was printed in – easier to read signaled the minds of readers that the recipe was easier to cook, and therefore increased their likelihood of trying it, even when it had the exact same ingredients and directions as one is a fancier typeface! Self interest helps persuade us, not surprisingly.  I like things that benefit me.  But his reference to a marketing technique of an illusion of you helping me out was fascinating.  If I had a coffee shop, I’d start giving out loyalty coupons for a free cup of coffee after 6 cups with the first one already filled in before you even buy one.  You think I did something for you.  Then after your first purchase you are already one-third of the way, needing 4 more cups to get your free cup.  But if I give you a loyalty coupon where you need just 5 cups to get a free one but I don’t give you that first one until after you buy, you are only one-fifth of the way there, even though you still need 4 cups to get your free cup, and you didn’t get anything upfront except a lousy cup of coffee (well, hopefully it was good coffee).  You perceive that the first deal is more in your self-interest to follow up on! Incongruity is mostly about humor  – and the unexpected, since humor is best when you don’t see the punch line coming.  This actually fits also with the Heath brothers surprise element of making a sticky message – one people will remember – that they wrote about in their first book Made to Stick.  I loved the gimmick of making the cover look as if a piece of duck tape was across it.  It seemed incongruous on a shiny new book, and encouraged me to buy it at the bookstore! The unexpected isn’t just about humor, though.  It’s also about getting a nice surprise.  People tipped more to waiters who gave them one piece of candy with their bill, walked away, then turned...

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Don’t Network. Try this instead.

Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Influence, Meetings, Sales | 0 comments

I hate the term networking.  Network building is an improvement.  Community building is even better.  It’s about mutual benefits, and ongoing connection. It’s not about acquisition of assets.  Sure, it can be distant connection, not best buddies.  But it’s not a one and done. My daughter sent me a blog post this week on improving your networking skills from “meh” to “killer.”  Although I also hate the term killer,  I excerpted some of the tips below, which talk to the idea of community building, even if from a different slant. This is something to cultivate as a life long process, not just when you need something.  It’s nurturing the community of colleagues through what you can offer them, and turning to them when you need something.  There’s reciprocity of value, there is good citizenship. It’s also important to go beyond the familiar (which of course is where we are most comfortable, so this takes some stretching.)  Research shows that benefits often come from the second and third level connections, not your inner circle.  WHY?  Your inner circle often has the same connections you do.  Those second and third level connections offer you far more of the unknown. And if the awkwardness of entering a room of unknown people stops or slows you, try to focus your attention on putting others at ease, rather than how awkward you feel.  Think about how you can help them, rather than how they can help you. Good luck! Tips from the Web:  Take Your Networking Skills from “Meh” to Pro With This Killer Strategy With a little coaching and guidance, any reluctant networker can be turned into a pro. Be proactive. Don’t wait until you’re looking for a job to connect with your network. It should be part of a proactive career management strategy. Devote time to nurturing a strong career network of contacts. Be ready to offer assistance, share articles and professional insights, participate in groups and attend professional meetings. Engage in discovery. Seek out new networking contacts. LinkedIn can be incredibly helpful in finding new connections. But don’t rely solely on social networks. Be active in professional associations and/or industry groups. People hire people they know, so it’s important to make potential networking contacts in person at live events. Have a plan. Identify targeted companies and the competencies and experience you want to promote. This will help you focus on the right networking activities and conversations. Connect. Use your referral’s name up front: “Richard Smith thought you’d be a great resource for me as I explore career opportunities in the financial services industry.” Ask if you could discuss your targeted companies, probing for others that should be included and for names of possible contacts. Build your networking confidence. Practice networking at a variety of events. Arrive early — it’s easier to initiate one-on-one conversations during the first 10 minutes when the group is still small. Prepare open-ended questions to keep conversations going. Confidence is developed by becoming skilled; becoming skilled requires practice....

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Workplaces, Meetings, & People Dry Up Without Play

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Creativity, Innovation, Meetings, Sales | 1 comment

When is play appropriate at work or at meetings?  When dealing with challenges, encouraging innovation, wanting to celebrate success, or looking for ways to practice new skills, that’s when play is appropriate.  Instead, all too often we ignore the playful approaches listed below and instead get even more serious.  Right now I can imagine the hard-nosed executive with the long to-do list and metrics-to-meet reading this with disdain.  That’s too bad because play could be just what he and his organization needs.  What do I mean by play at work?  Stuart Brown, M.D. wrote a book on play based on his research and his seven characteristics of play are below.  But here are some examples of how I’ve seen play contributing to work success both directly and indirectly:  Directly:  Playing with possibilities:  One important characteristic of play is that it doesn’t contribute to our survival – it is purposeless in that sense – so it’s okay to fail.  Taking a playful attitude toward new improvements allows you to try and fail – first in conversation with wild ideas, then in reality with more prudent ideas.  It’s the rapid cycle change idea – try an idea in a small and quick experiment, see if it works, then ditch it if it doesn’t and move on to another idea.  I use play in meetings where I ask people to come up with a great quantity of ideas for something odd like used refrigerators and make it a game with prizes (usually candy) pitting one team against another.  It gets them thinking of what’s possible, instead of evaluating what’s not.  One scientist/inventor was asked for the secret to all his great ideas.  “A great big wastebasket,” was his answer.  Imaginative play for new perspectives:  When the founders of Intel, Andrew Grove and Gordon Moore had achieved early success manufacturing memory chips and the Japanese started undercutting them, they were stuck with an organization oriented around a failing product.  They knew if they didn’t solve the problem they’d be fired and replaced by the board of directors.  Apparently Grove looked at Moore and said “Why don’t we do it ourselves?”  They imagined themselves as fired, walked out the door, and then walked back in as the new and smarter executives hired to replace them and imagined what they’d do.  It gave them the visionary breakthrough they needed to change the direction of the company and make it the success it is today.  Playful environment to encourage creativity in meetings:  Recently I facilitated a meeting that needed to result in rapid creative output of new marketing and operational ideas.   We rolled newsprint out on the tables and scattered crayons across it for doodling and note taking.  Helium balloons decorated the breakout tables.  Poppers were available for punctuating great ideas.  Small groups were formed by the type of candy they picked from the candy jar.  Physical movement was encouraged by moving from the large group table to small group work tables and back.  And of...

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What does your customer or patient experience with you?

Posted by on Feb 7, 2013 in Customer Service, Mindfulness, Sales | 1 comment

Do you know what it’s like to be your own customer or patient or client?  What’s it like to work with you? I’ve recently experienced some pretty lousy customer and patient experiences and it’s got me thinking about how you and I can improve how we provide service. So there’s my mom lying on a bed in the ER having been brought in by ambulance for a long-standing chronic but dangerous condition.  When the ER physician came in he started telling her things about her condition rather than asking questions.  He even told her that what we were telling him about her experience prior to arrival must be wrong.  It was condescending and arrogant at worst, extremely inattentive and rushed at best.  He certainly didn’t take the time to focus on her. There may be all kinds of mitigating reasons why he behaved as he did but all I could think about was how much better our experience would have been had he started by asking questions.  “What do you think is wrong?”  “What do you know about your condition?”  “What’s been your experience in the past?” During her stay, a different doctor who had only seen her once the previous day for about 2 minutes, decided to take it upon herself to tell her about hospice care, without asking whether my mother wanted to hear about it at all, nevermind without family present.  My mom called me in tears. The visiting nurse who came to her home once she was released was similarly focused on telling rather than asking.  I imagine her charge is to educate her patients about their condition to help them and also prevent re-admittance, but in her zeal to educate she totally ignored what my mother and I already knew and had experienced many times.  She just never asked about what our experience had already been. In a completely opposite case, I was buying some electronics and the sales person used all kinds of jargon.  I couldn’t understand him and he couldn’t help me.   Then he got irritated with me.  Needless to say, I didn’t buy the equipment at that location. In these cases, what seemed to be missing was meeting us where we were at.  You’re so familiar with what you do, or what you sell, and perhaps very comfortable in the routine through which you offer the service, that you make gross assumptions about the other person. Sometimes it’s not about assumptions, it’s just lack of attention.  Pay attention to the person in front of you, their agenda not your agenda.  Don’t be distracted by what’s happening in another room, or what’s on your to-do list. So today, think about how you deliver service, whether to your patient, to your customer, or to the other people in your company.  Try to put yourself in their shoes.  Watch their faces.  See if you’re connecting, if you’re delivering great...

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The Reluctant Salesman

Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Change, Leadership, Sales | 0 comments

“I hate to sell because I hate being sold,” said Beth, the new leader of a small company. Now she has to sell a major change in the way the company will provide healthcare benefits. Why do we hate sales?  Think of the caricature of the slick salesman.  What do they do?  Lie?  Ignore what the buyer wanted or was concerned about?  Ignore what the buyer says?  Do all the talking?  Sell what they have, not what you want? Most of us can’t be sold like this, thankfully. Early in my career, like Beth, I thought I hated sales.   Then I became a Realtor and learned that done well, sales was no more than helping people meet their needs. I helped people gain new perspective on their situations, consider alternatives, and make choices that would meet their needs and bring them satisfaction.  I helped them get over their fear of change so they could make good decisions and take action. Selling as Coaching:   When I became a leader I realized all my sales skills still mattered.  Later, when I trained in coaching and built my coaching career I realized that a good sales process was actuatally based on good coaching skills.  Building a trusting relationship, listening, understanding the context, identifying needs and goals, exploring assumptions, finding ways to help them meet the goals, providing information and education, helping people take action. What do leaders have to sell?  Often they have to sell their company to the public, they have to sell their results to stock analysts and shareholders.  If they’re nonprofit leaders they have to sell their mission and their ability to meet their mission to their donors.  Business owners have to sell directly to important clients. Internally, they have to sell change.  That’s what Beth has to do now.  Some might say selling this change isn’t truly sales because her employees don’t get any say in the matter.  It’s a done deal.  I disagree! They may not get a say in whether their benefit package is reduced or not but they do decide how they’ll respond – will they understand and support the good of the company?  Will they picket or strike?  Will they quit? Will they do subtly subversive acts like staying home sick or stealing small items?  Will they lose focus and spend all their time complaining? A great sales process:   All sales begin with building relationships.  Building trust.  Without that, you can’t get very far.  Luckily, Beth is viewed as a strong and fair leader.  Her employees trust her to make fair and equitable decisions. As a salesperson, you move forward by understanding the buyer’s situation. Beth needs to understand the realities of the impact the healthcare benefit change will have on her employees.  What were their expectations when they took the job?  What is their current health?  Who will be most impacted by the change? If she doesn’t know these answers, she won’t be able to adequately address their concerns. She also has to...

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