Dan Seidman on the Single Most Potent Influence Strategy

The following is a guest post by Dan Seidman, author of The Secret Language of Influence: Master the One Skill Every Sales Pro Needs shares his single most potent influence strategy which you can use both professionally and personally

Picture this, you’re 12 years old and today you came home from school fired up about your future. At dinner you let your parents in on your big secret.

“Mom, Dad, guess what? I decided what I want to be when I grow up. I’m going to be a doctor!”

Mom is wonderful, always encouraging. Her immediate response is “Honey that’s great! Doctors are so well respected. You’ll make good money; have a nice house and a wonderful spouse. I’m delighted you want to be a doctor.”

How, on the other hand, does Dad respond?

“A doctor? A doctor? Do you know how much money it costs to become a doctor? A fortune! Do you want to go to school for 16 more years? And you’ll be working with sick people all day. Malpractice insurance, lawsuits, long, long hours? Are you out of your mind? You want to be a doctor?”

Wow! What a contrast between Mom and Dad’s responses.

Dad is exhibiting what we call, in psychology, a “polarity response.” He moves away from others’ ideas.

While the terminology itself might be new to you, you’ve probably experienced it from others your whole life. Perhaps you’re even the person who’s resistant to the suggestions of friends, family or business colleagues.

This is a serious selling problem, prospects do this as well.

We’ve just arrived at a critical teaching moment for your sales life:

People either move toward ideas or away from them.

Okay, cool concept. What do I do with it?

You want to be able to have two very different conversations with your buyers (or anyone you need to influence).

One is based on all the good things that happen when the other person says YES. It’s a conversation about benefits, goals, positive outcomes. This is essentially what we grew up with in the selling world – feature/ benefit selling.

The other conversation is about pointing out and questioning consequences, problems, trouble on the horizon – until the buyer says YES. This is about a new trend in sales training – to only use pain to persuade. Both strategies work, depending on your buyer.

The influential language we use to describe all of this is TO and AWAY. Is that person across the desk or across the phone a TO person (benefits and goals-oriented)? Or an AWAY person (problem and pain-oriented)?

I consider this the most important influence strategy you can learn. Because it affects the dialogues you have with buyers throughout the sales process. And it’s easy to recognize and respond to in all of your relationships, so you can practice dealing with it on a personal level, before you apply it to sell.

Again, the concept is very simple. We’re going to divide our whole world of potential customers into two categories. This is much easier than learning and memorizing and identifying prospects according to all these personality tools like, DISC, Myers Briggs, Numerology, Handwriting Analysis, even Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief.

You understand the idea, it’s simple and obvious, so here’s an exercise you can use in your office to put this all into play.

  • Create a list of all your benefits on the left column of a page. On the right, list all the problems you solve (present and future). You now have tons of talking points to use, once you recognize whether the other person is TO or AWAY.
  • Learn to sell on both sides of the page. Learn to sell your products and services as a sales pro. Learn to sell your ideas inside a company, as a business pro. And learn to sell yourself and your ideas within personal relationships, too.
  • I’ll leave you with one more task – who will you share this learning moment with? Is it a fellow salesperson? An entrepreneur? Someone in your networking group?  Who needs to know this?
  • Forward this or print it. Then sit down for an hour with them to build out your list; benefits on the left, problems on the right. Work together, and you’ll come up with more ideas than doing this exercise solo.

You now have a potent new strategy, a method to apply it and a document which you’ve built to revisit this valuable idea.

GREAT selling and I’d love to get your feedback and experiences with this influence technique.

Dan Seidman  is the founder of GOT INFLUENCE? He keynotes and trains from his library of 600+ hilarious selling blunders. Dan is the author of six books and his business columns are read by almost 2 million monthly readers. He designs sales training programs for major global organizations as well as entrepreneurial companies. Dan is a World Master’s athlete with three gold medals playing on the U.S. basketball team. His next two business trips are to the exotic locations of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Istanbul, Turkey.  The author can be reached at Dan@GotInfluenceInc.com and 1-847-359-7860.

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