The Power of Influence


Pleasure and Pain
How Are We Influenced?
Choosing Appropriate Styles
Tact and Influence 

Pleasure and Pain

How can we influence people around us? Can we use the same principles? How can we motivate someone to buy from us or to do something we want (something that is genuinely good for the person, in a sincere, caring manner of course!)?

Well firstly by building rapport with the person, by matching/mirroring their style and their values. By figuring out their motivational style by asking questions. We need to find out what is not satisfactory about their current relevant situation. Ask about the good points but also try to then find out the bad points. By using that knowledge to find out what possible pain they have in their current scenario, exacerbating it with further questions and possible future scenarios, and how that pain could be cured with our product or service or idea/suggestion. Sales people should thus healers of pain! A good sales person or influencer does not try to create create pain where there is none to start with. He is like a healer who comes along, finds a cut on your arm, then aggravates it until it really hurts, then does a magic trick and heals the cut completely. If the person is pleasure motivated, then the sales person/influencer should find out what benefits the person really likes, what their hot buttons are, and focus on those. Listing every single benefit an idea/suggestion/product has is not targetted and will likely detract from the emphasis of the real hot button points that the person is genuinely interested in. This is motivation through opportunity.

Besides mirroring and questioning to ascertain pleasure and pain motivators, it may be useful to understand what level of consciousness and 'mood' the person or persons we are trying to influence are in. For example, according to Eric Berne's Transactional Psychoanalysis model, a person can be in any one of three basic modes, adult, child and parent. Knowing who one is talking to and how one should oneself come across is important to appease the person and achieve the desired adult to adult conversation. In addition, David Hawkins' model of Levels of Consciousness may be useful for those trying to deal with 'tricky customers', e.g. a rational liberal peacemaker trying to relate to those who are engrossed in historical rivalries and bitterness towards one another.

Of course, if we are talking about sales people in particular, they are not universally popular. If you are genuinely interested in buying something, and walk into a shop or showroom, then you appreciate a sales person who is attentive, knows what he or she is talking about, who is respectful, and not too pushy. A sales person who genuinely wants the right solution for you, and is not just interested to sell you anything just because he wants his commission. A sales person who draws you into the sale rather than pushes you there. A sales person who builds genuine rapport with the customer and becomes their friend. Who asks questions and finds out about the customers real wishes and problems. It is the beginning of a relationship, not a one off sale. The customer buys from the sales person because he genuinely likes him, and the sales person makes him feel really good. The customer likes to think that he or she has made an educated and informed decision, and has not been pushed into a purchase, that he has kept the power, even if this isn't the case. Often a customer will volunteer information that can help a close or even actually help the sales person close the sale, if he likes him enough. There is nothing worse than a sales person who appears to be pushy, clearly has no genuine respect for his prospect, tries to bulldoze the customer and close them, without really finding out what the customer wants or what his or her concerns are, and regardless of whether the product is even right for that person (trying to hammer a star shape into a round hole). Although a sales person myself in one of my roles, know how many customers like to be treated, and dislike the way most sales people operate.

People buy for emotional reasons of pain and pleasure, but they also need a couple of logical reasons to buy too, maybe just one or two, and then they will feel clever and justified in basically making an emotional decision. So always make sure when you have enlarged the pain/magnified the pleasure that you also mention all the sensible (boring, non-sexy) reasons for buying now too!

To complete this section on salesmanship, we will briefly look at a test close. If you feel like you are getting close to the sale/point of influence, make a test close (conditional close). Or a number of test closes. For example, 'Assuming we were able to deal with [xyz objection]/you were given budget approval etc, would you buy [product 123]? Asking test closes helps to bring out any objections, and people feel they can agree to a test close and give a kind of commitment without feeling that they have. If you haven't heard any objections so far and you feel like you are about to close a sale, it could just be that you haven't been asking the prospect enough questions, and that there are many objections which will suddenly be brought up if you try to close the person. This will kill the momentum and likely lose you the deal/opportunity to influence.

The objections are often a matter of framing or pre-framing. i.e. changing the focus of the person to something really good that outweighs that bad thing, or to make a statement at the beginning if you know the probably objection that will crush the objection before it comes out! For example, this car is a little expensive, but look at how lovely it is to sit in. You will really appreciate the ambience and feel great every time you step in. You could save 10% and buy this other car with a rather spartan and cold interior etc.

Are elections really about politics?  

How are we influenced?

What factors influence our decision to purchase products, who to vote for, where to go out etc? Let us take the example of who to vote for at election time in the national political election. We like to think we are intelligent, free agents, who vote according to whose policies are the most sound, and who we think will form the best government for the country. It appears however that rather than voting intelligently/rationally on policies alone, most people in elections all over the world actually vote according to four factors:

Elections are won by people who are able to appeal to the widest range of voters and who fulfill more of the above criteria than the other candidates. They win on their superior ability to influence people around them. It is much like making a new acquaintance or friend or buying an album, you are most likely to choose the person who fulfils most of the above criteria. Or who matches most strongly those criteria that you have a preference for.

During election time, each party or opponents try to reduce the other candidates' popularity by mud slinging to question their congruency. You can't really hijack a candidate's good looks (unless you live in Ukraine!)

We all know politicians go out wearing make up, and have speach writers, body language advisors and media advisors. It's like advertising or sales. A politician is really a sales person. It's not really about party politics and policies. As long as the policies don't offend too much. We vote almost like we make a decision to buy a product, like a car or a CD. Voters are fickle like the stock market, totally overreacting to good or bad news, the big picture is often forgotten. So do you still feel like you live in an intelligent democracy? 

Choosing Appropriate Styles

Persuading is useful when the issue is open to rational analysis, when the situation is not emotionally charged or highly competitive or emotionally charged, and when you are viewed as informed and competent. Tools you would use are proposing ideas, making suggestions and recommendations. Using facts and reasoning to support one's own position and to counter another person's position.

Asserting is useful when you have legitimate needs or expectations, and should stand to lose something if these are not met. You should state your demands, needs, standards and requirements. You are in a position to offer incentives and possibly exert pressure to gain an agreement or compliance with your requirements, for example using positive or negative judgements of the other person, or specifying consequences you are in control of.

Bridging is useful when you need the other person's commitment, you value their input and are open to influence, and also when the other person is upset or angry. You could solicit different views, or be encouraging or empathising. You can paraphrase or summarise the other person's arguments, ask for the person's clarification and reflecting back feelings (mirroring, building rapport). You can also let your uncertainty show, ask for help or assistance, and admit your mistakes.

Attracting is useful when you want to create enthusiasm and excitement, a sense of dynamism and purpose, unity and team spirit. You articulate the ideal outcome or an exciting possible outcome.You share and highlight important common values, interests and hopes with the others, and they trust your motivations.

Moving away is useful when the present conditions inhibit productive work and a postponement, rescheduling or change in conditions will help you to achieve your goals.

Disengaging is useful to reduce tension or to change the prevailing conditions while continuing to pursue your goals. Avoid giving in to the other party or withdrawing from engagement to avoid personal discomfort.

Role playing is a useful personal development tool, not only for practising your communication and influence skills, but also to re-enact painful situations where you feel pressured, uncomfortable and unable to exact your will or desires. For example, it could be asking someone out for a date, or approaching someone who you wish to ask about something or to stop doing something you perceive as anti-social or threatening. Role playing can be fun and a great way to explore your own personality and your negative beliefs and limitations, and an avenue to overcome them. Most people never engage in any forms of role play unless their boss or instructor tells them to do so. Why wait for such rare occasions? Why not do a little role play every week or every day! With a friend or partner. You can volunteer scenarios or let your friend pick one for you. You can change places and see how the other person deals it with. It can be a form of entertainment or escapism as well, in the way some people love to play RPGs on line or dungeons and dragons. Why not! It doesn't cost anything! Being shy is just a form of fear of self-expression.

© 2006-2014 Fabian Dee