In this special guest episode, Brian Ahearn joins me to talk about persuasion, sales, and so many topics as we go down many paths in our conversation.
Topics we covered:
- Ethical Persuasion
- Building rapport & the principle of ‘liking’
- Why intention matters
- Reciprocity technique
- How to mess up rapport
- Overcoming objections through Consensus and Authority
- Closing with Consistency and Scarcity
Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. A dynamic international keynote speaker, trainer, coach and consultant, Brian specializes in applying the science of influence and persuasion in everyday situations. He is one of only 20 individuals in the world who currently holds the Cialdini Method Certified Trainer® designation.
This specialization in the psychology of persuasion was earned directly from Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. – the most cited living social psychologist in the world on the science of ethical persuasion. Brian is one of only a handful of people certified to lead the Moment Maker Workshop, which is based on Robert Cialdini’s New York Times best-selling book Pre-suasion.
Amazon for the book https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07W8XB8F5/
Jason Cutter: 00:00 Welcome to the sales experience podcast. My name is Jason Cutter. On this episode I have a special guest joining me to talk about persuasion and it fits perfectly within the framework of my goals for all of you listening, which is to help create the ideal sales experience for yourself and your prospects as you move them towards being raving fan clients. Now, Brian Ahearn is a master of persuasion and I know that some people can claim that, but he is actually certified in persuasion. He’s been doing it for over 30 years, starting with insurance companies and then branching out to non-insurance companies and anybody who wants help with closing more sales. He’s written a book, the book, like I said, he does certified trainings and programs. I’m going to put all of his links and info in the show notes for now. Brian, welcome to the sales experience podcast.
Brian Ahearn: 00:46 Thank you, Jason. I really appreciate you having me on.
Jason Cutter: 00:48 Yeah, I’m really excited about this because I feel like most people in sales, I know a bit about persuasion. I think there’s things I’ve picked up along the way, but not from a scholastic like educated researched. You know, there’s what I’ve put together over the years that I know works well, but not from a deep level and I don’t normally do this if anyone’s listening to my shows with the guests, I don’t normally go into interview mode, but there’s one question I’m curious about that I want to start with is how does somebody even become a professional certified persuasionist?
Brian Ahearn: 01:20 Well, I’m connected with Robert Cialdini and some of your listeners might know who Dr Cialdini is. He really is the guru when it comes to this. In fact, he’s known as the most social psychologist on the planet when it comes to understanding the science of influence and persuasion. He came out with a book called influence science and practice back in the bits on it. It’s I think fifth or sixth edition, sold about 3 million copies. It’s the gold standard when it comes to this. And the good fortune of getting connected with him almost 20 years ago. And through a series of just random events ended up getting connected with him and was so intrigued by what he talked about because I knew right away this, this psychology explains why so many of the sales techniques that people are taught, why they work. And I also felt great about the fact that it was grounded in science. It wasn’t just somebody’s good opinion or what worked for them, it was rooted in empirical data. And I felt like I could get behind that. And the third thing was his stance on ethics that he is all about non-manipulative ways to move people to action
Jason Cutter: 02:26 Well. And I think that’s really the key that divides or separates persuasion from manipulation is the ethical side. It’s for the reasons why you’re wanting somebody or using some skills to get somebody to do something, to take action to buy. Or it could be anything in your life and persuasion is all about their goals and something that’s going to benefit them. And you may have some kind of reward in it as well, but it’s for their betterment versus manipulation, which is all about yourself.
Brian Ahearn: 02:54 That’s exactly right. And we go a little further too, when we talk about manipulation versus when we talk about what it means to ethically persuade somebody, first and foremost, it’s gotta be that proverbial win-win. It can’t just be that I want to make a sale to make a commission and I don’t care how the product or service works for you. It’s got to be good for you. Good for me. The second thing is we’ve got to be truthful in all of our communication. And that means we don’t lie by omission or commission. In other words, we don’t hide the truth. If I was selling my home and there’s a crack in the basement, I don’t put a plant in front of it or something and hope that people don’t see it. I learned through persuasion that I can actually talk about that and gained some credibility because I’m viewed as being honest. So we don’t lie, we don’t cover the truth. And the third thing that’s a requirement is that we use the psychology, what we call these principles of influence in ways that are natural to the situation. We don’t try to force in a principle if it’s not naturally available. And I think if we followed those three criteria, we’re being ethical in our attempts to move somebody to some sort of action.
Jason Cutter: 03:59 And that’s so interesting when you talk about it. I deal with a lot of salespeople where it’s the omission side, right? It’s the plant in front of the crack in the wall relative to their sales process where they don’t want to mention something. There’s some negative or some part of what they’re selling that some other prospects haven’t liked. And so they try to avoid it. They try to ignore this detail that could be a deal killer or could blow up later on down the road and they just want to avoid it versus tackling it. And that kind of open, this will actually lead to better sales and more effectiveness.
Brian Ahearn: 04:32 Absolutely. Because there are transitional words like, but and however, and people typically forget what comes before button. That’s why when you hear, honey, I love you, but you tend to not
Jason Cutter: 04:42 Remember the, I just totally just cancels out everything you said before the button,
Brian Ahearn: 04:46 Right? So if you lead with what is perceived to be a weakness, and I don’t mean you kicked the door down and say, let me tell you everything that’s wrong with me or my product, but you lead with a weakness relatively early on, you take that off the table. Because if you don’t do that in the back of the mind of the prospective customer, they’re probably wondering about it. So you address it, but then you use a word like butter, however, and you segue into your strengths and they tend to remember the strengths more than they do any perceived weakness. And the truth is, Jason, you know this, no product or service is perfect. Nope. Everyone has a potential downside for certain customers. So you might as well deal with it and gain a reputation of credibility.
Jason Cutter: 05:24 100% and a lot of salespeople, it’s funny because this isn’t even what we were planning on talking about, but since we’re here, there’s a lot of salespeople who just come from more of a desperate side or they’re worried about closing deals where they have a limited number of leads or they’re just feeling this pressure internally or externally to meet some quota or numbers or make commission, and so they want to imagine that they’re supposed to sell everything to everybody, but it’s not a good fit. If you’re selling something that is a value, it’s not going to be perfect for every single person, and your job as a salesperson isn’t to make it fit for every persons to figure out what they and then how you can solve that. And when you go about that and you point out the pros and the cons, it also checks that box off of every prospect’s mind, which is thinking, what’s the catch?
Jason Cutter: 06:08 Right? Get that over with. There’s always a catch. There’s always a downside. Nothing is perfect. Even if it’s the perfect car, there’s going to be something about it that may be ideal. Or maybe it’s the maintenance cost and literally just deal with it. And if we think about just go into dating and getting married, not everybody’s perfect fit, they may be wonderful people, but not everybody is a perfect fit and you don’t want to happy people. And I think it’s the same thing when it comes to products and services. Don’t force it. There’s plenty of people in prospective clients out there. The challenge is finding the right ones. Yeah. And there might be a semi perfect match and there’s always going to be, you know, some parts that aren’t going to be a good fit. And can you live with those? Right? Just like any product or service and a relationship, you know, can you take the good with the not so good. Absolutely. So what we were going to talk about, what we wanted to cover, you know, when we initially started talking, which I’ve covered early on in the show, and I talk a lot about is I call it my universal sales success formula. And it’s all these different parts which start with building rapport and relationships, which I know for you is one of the big topics that you cover. I mean it all starts with that, right? So every relationship starts with some level of rapport that’s appropriate. Absolutely. When we talk about building relationship,
Brian Ahearn: 07:21 There is a couple of what we call principles of influence psychology and there’s two principles that are very effective for building relationship. The first one that I like talking about is called the principle of liking and this’ll be no surprise to anybody listening that the more somebody likes you, the easier it is for them to say yes. That’s a given. What a lot of people don’t understand is how to get someone to like you. And there are some very simple things that we can do. So for example, Jason, if the more things that I find out you and I have in common, the more you will like me. I mean if we find out we had the same pet cheer for the same team, went to the same college, it is just natural for people to like those who they have something in common with.
Brian Ahearn: 08:00 And the second very simple way is by offering genuine compliments. If I’m complimentary of you and the endorphins are flowing and you feel good, you associate that with me, then you tend to like me more. So that’s not very hard. But here’s the real key and I want everybody to, if they walk away with just one thing from this episode, it would be this. Do not try to get people to like you. And that may sound contradictory based on what I just shared. But here’s the key, the very same psychology, Jason, that will make you like me will make me like you. In other words, when I find out we have something in common, I start to like you more. And when I look for things that I can genuinely compliment you about, I think more highly of you and the whole while I’m really convincing myself, Jason’s a good guy, I like him and here’s why.
Brian Ahearn: 08:43 It’s so important because when you see, when you can tell with your senses and you can tell with your eyes and ears and you can see my smile on my face, when you sense that Brian really likes that opens you up to totally whatever it is that I might want to do because in our hearts we believe our friends do right by our friends and if I truly come to like you Jason, I would never want to take advantage of you and that’s, that becomes really the key to take manipulation off of the table. If all of your listeners work hard to come to like the perspective customers, they talk to the current customers, they deal with the people they work with, vendors who they interact with. If they work hard too, like all those people, they will be shocked at how well the relationships evolved and how much easier business gets.
Jason Cutter: 09:28 And I think there’s something key that you mentioned and then moved on very quickly, which is you can’t force it. I see a lot of people, I’m sure you have that are told. Okay, the first thing is to build rapport. Get someone to like you. If they like you and they trust you, then they’ll buy from you. So go at them as hard as you can and figure out all the things you have in common. If it’s a face to face interaction, you walk into their office, look for something you could start talking about. And a lot of times I hear people, especially on phone calls, where they’re forcing it, they literally, maybe they care, they don’t care, but they’re told they’ve got to do it. And so they’re just going at it full force and it doesn’t work the same.
Brian Ahearn: 10:04 That’s right. Two people can do the very same things, but intention matters a lot. In fact, there’s a quote that I use a lot of times when I’m doing workshops or presentations, and it goes like this, this from a book called the art of Woo, which means winning others over. An earnest and sincere lover Buys Flowers and candy for the object of his affections. So does the cad who only seeks to take advantage of another’s heart. But when the cad succeeds, we don’t blame the flowers and the candy. We rightly questioned his character. So two people can use the very same thing, flowers and candy, and they have very different intentions. Two people could use the same principle, in this case, the principle of liking and have very different intentions and most people sense that. They can sense the sincerity. But I would say to those very same people who are kind of desperately trying to connect with people, if they take a step back and really explore themselves and say, do I want to enjoy my career? Do I want to enjoy the people that I work with? Do I want to enjoy the customers that I interact with? What’s the best way to do that? That would be that I come to like them. How can I do that? And then they start approaching. Maybe they’re doing the same things, but the intention is different in the sense that you get from that person is totally different because you get that genuine, authentic part that’s like, wow, this person cares about me. And that’s what starts making the difference.
Jason Cutter: 11:21 And I think that’s easily detectable from the outside as a manager, as a third party from the customer side. If you’ve dealt with someone like this, you can tell the difference of when somebody is using rapport building as a tactic to get what they want, which is more on the manipulation side of the line versus the ones who actually care and are asking questions and wanting to build rapport and a relationship and find those things in common because they’re naturally curious and then they actually want to help the person and solve their problem in whatever way they can. Now you have another thing that you talk about a wrote about is reciprocity in this stage here,
Brian Ahearn: 12:00 So when we do things that genuinely benefit other people, they tend to appreciate that and they tend to reciprocate. What we do is we look to truly try to help people. While reciprocity tells us that if I help you, you feel a sense of obligation to want to do something in return. For me. People shouldn’t approach it as a lever like, oh, I’ll do something for Jason so he’ll have to do something for me now. No, we should approach it with the mindset of I want to genuinely help people. If I come across something that I can do or share with you, Jason, that helps you. That’s what I should do. Now I can feel comfortable if I go back to you at some point down the road, if you’re the right person with the right skills to potentially help me and you will probably want to help me because of what I’ve already done for you. That’s how it should really work. Not a tit for tat. I will do this cause I’m sure some of your listeners have experienced this where somebody offers them something and immediately their defense goes up and they say, okay, what do you want? I know there’s strings attached here and I’m not going to say yes until I understand what you really want because they sniff it out. This person isn’t really there to help them. They’re there to get something.
Jason Cutter: 13:08 And I think there’s a lot of times, because I’ve seen this as well, is where let’s say my intentions are good, I’m giving something and without the intention of getting something in return, right? So I’m doing it from a natural place, not a manipulative side. However, I could be dealing with somebody who’s been burned in the past. And so a lot of times I deal with salespeople and I train them on the fact that you’ve got to be careful because sometimes you’re doing everything right and the prospect or the other party could be even a relationship. They’re gonna react a certain way and it’s nothing to do with you. You have to be careful with where you’re putting the feedback and kind of pointing the finger to fix things because it might not be you, it might be some baggage. Maybe they got burned by a sales person in the past and it’s not about you. It’s about what they’ve been through.
Brian Ahearn: 13:56 Yeah. I have generally found if you have time, you don’t always have time. If you have time and you’re trying to build some relationship because some sales are very short cycle and some are very long that you’re in there and you continue to be genuine and authentic and people start to see that that’s where the defense has start coming down and they become more open to having genuine conversations about what their needs and wants are and how you might be able to help them.
Jason Cutter: 14:18 Yeah, and I think there’s that intersection between the sales cycle cause it might be a 15 minute one call close or it might be a six month, you know, long transaction. Also it’s relative to price. So depending on the price that’s involved, the risk, you know on the financial side is going to dictate how hard the walls are going to be up relative to the risk that the prospect is making.
Brian Ahearn: 14:39 Absolutely. I mean, if it’s a short cycle, not a very expensive item, you probably, you don’t have enough time to do certain things, but you also don’t have to have the same degree of relationship, the same degree of expertise because people can probably get that product in other places as well. But what you’re getting into longer cycles, more risk, more complex things, people are going to want to have relationship and they’re going to want to have trust and they’re gonna want to know that you’re an expert and you’ve got to plan to build that in.
Jason Cutter: 15:09 So let me ask you this about rapport because it’s a philosophy that I’ve held for a long time, but I want to get your take on it before I even share my thoughts. Do you think there’s too much rapport possible by a salesperson?
Brian Ahearn: 15:24 Yes. I think of a salesperson is uncomfortable with certain parts of the sales cycle. They can default to just trying to be a buddy and nothing ever ends up getting accomplished. It’s not good for the person who has a need and it’s not good for the company that the salesperson represents. I mean it’s the business that brought the relationship about. I should be able to say, Jason, I really like you. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, but it is a business that brought us together here and we need to talk about and get into that
Jason Cutter: 15:50 And do you think, I see a lot of times where reps do that where they’re just worried about something or they’re nervous or they’re new. Some of that’s just normal, but do you ever see it where there’s so much rapport going on that it’s too much in the friend zone and a prospect? Ben Doesn’t necessarily want to work with that person because now it’s too friendly or do you think there’s a way to be very, very friendly, super in the friend zone and
Brian Ahearn: 16:15 Close deals and be effective? That’s going to depend mostly on the perspective customer and for some, I mean I’ve heard people say before they don’t like to do business with their friends, close friends because if it goes sideways they don’t want to ruin the friendship. Yeah, of course. I have other people who say, absolutely I want to do business with a friend because that person will have my best interest at heart. So there’s two different buying styles there and you’ve got to understand what those are. A savvy salesperson is going to detect whether somebody doesn’t want to go too far with that friendship. They want to keep it mostly business. That’s okay. It’s about meeting the customer where they are, not where you want it to be. And that’s why I said earlier, I think some people can out of comfort, just stay in that friendly zone and then not make what would be the best interest of both parties.
Jason Cutter: 17:05 Yeah. And the balance I’ve found personally with my own sales style is I tend to generally build a lot of rapport with people because I’m just naturally curious and I want to help them. And then the conversation usually goes a little bit long. My talk times and my sales times are always longer but very effective. And what I generally do is some relationship building up front, get to the matter, figure out if it’s something I can help them with and through the transaction, through the process, you know, building even more rapport and layering it on. And then sometimes even post closed transaction if there’s follow-up, adding more on there. So it’s kind of a, not a sandwich necessarily, but the primary focus is business with a bunch of rapport, like just in and out of the whole conversation.
Brian Ahearn: 17:49 I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that at all. I want to enjoy the people that I interact with and so that doesn’t just mean enjoy them for the first 15 minutes as we get to know each other and instead of deciding which into business mode. Right? Yeah. Because rapport also, you know, one of the studies that I share when we do our two day workshop is having rapport with people impacts negotiations too. People are much less likely to get deadlocked if they, you can come to like the person that they’re interacting with.
Jason Cutter: 18:17 Yeah. Makes Sense. Moving on. One of the other topics that you cover a lot, and that’s important with this that I see a lot of salespeople deal with and struggle with, whether they’re new or not, is objections and overcoming objections, but doing it in the right way and not a terrible hot mess on one side or manipulating and lying by omission on the other side.
Brian Ahearn: 18:40 Well, in my view, when you take a very high level look at the sales process, first and foremost, it’s about building some relationship. Then you’ve got to deal with any objections that may arise or uncertainty that can come about. And then it’s about closing the sale. So when you’re in that, that phase of dealing with objections, there are two principles that we talk about that are especially effective, the principle of consensus or some people might know it as social proof and the principle of authority. So I’ll start with consensus. Consensus. Human beings, by our very nature, we look to other people to see how they’re behaving, acting, what are they thinking, what are they doing? And that has a big impact on how we think, feel, act, and what we do. Some people try to push that away and deny that as if it’s herd mentality, but the human species evolved being a pack animal in tribes and we learned as a species.
Brian Ahearn: 19:34 There is safety in numbers, their safety when lots of people are doing something so consciously or subconsciously big driver of behavior. If you in when you’re in sales can talk about what other people have experienced when they’ve done business with you or your organization that is going to start to lessen some of the objection and the more that prospect or the more the a your current customers are to the prospective customer that you’re talking to, the easier it is for them to envision doing business with you because if people just like them are having success, then there’s no reason they probably wouldn’t.
Jason Cutter: 20:08 Obviously there’s a lot of people out there who will tell you as a business person, maybe if it’s a salesperson or just in general in the population, don’t worry about what other people are doing. Don’t worry about what people say, what their thoughts about you, their feedback. That’s important. And what you’re saying is very true. I mean if we take it a way, way, way far back, your survival could be relative to, is that Barry that you just found poisonous they’re going to kill you or is it the safe one? And if everyone is eating it and everyone is safe, then that’s the decision we should make. And at some root level in the prospect’s mind, they are wondering if they were to buy from you, could this lead to death or or loss? And that’s literally what they’re thinking. It might seem silly no matter what you’re selling.
Jason Cutter: 20:52 And I’ve generally spent a lot of my time in sales and sales management, helping people’s situations get better. So helping them get out of debt or helping them with something financially that’s burdening them. And it’s amazing how they still don’t want to make a decision because they’d rather deal with the, like they say the devil they know then the devil they don’t know. Because even if it’s help and even if it’s an outstretched hand, they still know. And those third party testimonials, those social proof, those stories about other people who did it and survived and they’re better off are so important in dealing with the fears. Right. That are triggering the objections. Yeah. That’s why
Brian Ahearn: 21:27 You could have a great product and depending on the complexity and the money involved, if you get to the point where somebody says it all sounds great but who else is using this and you can’t come up with anybody, all of a sudden that person’s going to be like, yeah, I don’t think I want to be the Guinea pig here.
Jason Cutter: 21:43 Yeah. Maybe for the right price, but not probably for what you’re asking.
Brian Ahearn: 21:47 Yes. There are always some people who are outliers. They want to be first, they want to be the trailblazer. There are very few and far between and you’re probably not going to make a living hunting after those when, when you have so many more people who would be more comfortable knowing that there are other people who are somewhat similar to them enjoying your, the benefits of your product or services. Yeah. Okay. And then you mentioned authority as well. Yeah, so authority just highlights the fact that as humans, we tend to default to people that we view as having superior wisdom or expertise. As an example, if you and I are at a party and there’s a whole group of people standing around and people are complaining about taxes, if somebody says, you know, I’m a CPA and they start talking, we pay more attention because they do that for living.
Brian Ahearn: 22:28 They know more about taxes than we do. And this is why when we have ailments, we call doctors. When we need legal advice, we can go online and look it up ourselves. But most people feel more comfortable when a lawyer tells them what to do. And so when you understand that, it’s incumbent upon you as a salesperson to make sure that prospective customer knows either a, what your expertise is or B, that you bring expertise into the conversation because it’s quite okay to borrow authority from a third party. As an example, if I were talking to an audience, I might be able to share some information off the top of my head. But if that information comes from a respected source, maybe Newsweek or Time magazine, something like that. And I say, I read time last week and then I share it carries more weight because that’s a re trusted, respected periodical. And yet a lot of times people forget to share that or they might think, oh, if I do that, they’re going to think I didn’t know it and I’m not much of an expert. No, it’s exactly the opposite.
Jason Cutter: 23:30 Well, and the other part to add that I tried to impress upon a lot of salespeople in teams as well is that if you’ve been doing it for any length of time, you or your company, then you want to make sure that the prospect you’re dealing with understands that as well.
Brian Ahearn: 23:45 So if it’s the first time interacting with them
Brian Ahearn: 23:47 And they’re nervous, their walls are up, you know, at some point in the conversation, in the best way possible, I think it’s always good to relay that. I’ve been doing this for years. Our company has been doing this for years. I talked to, you know, a dozen people a day. I’ve talked to a thousand people in the years I’ve been here and you know, here’s the what I’ve seen or here’s generally what happens. Here’s what I found, you know, sharing that from that experience. If you’re a sales professional, you’ve been in in awhile, then you know that you’re going to leverage those kinds of timeline stats. If you’re new, then come from a place of, you know, our company has been in business for five years or eight years or two years and we’ve dealt with hundreds of people and here’s what we know. The more where you can weave that into your casual conversation rather than presenting it as a billboard.
Brian Ahearn: 24:35 Cause people will forget that. But when you’re having that casual conversation, and if I said, you know, Jason, I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years, what I’ve found is, and I just keep going, well you just casually drop those in there. It does make a difference because it’s that reminder of, Oh this guy’s done this for a long time. And so what follows next is given more weight than it would if they were sitting there going, huh, how long has he been doing this? Yeah, and like you said, just casual and the conversation flowing through. Sometimes in response to an objection where they’re having that, a rebuttal they’re handling or as they’re setting up for another segment, either in their presentation or their sales process, you know, leveraging their authority, the company’s authority or like you said, third party trusted sources, hey, you know, this is what we found in our research according to this periodical or this information.
Brian Ahearn: 25:22 Now something else is highly affected if you have the right opportunity. When I worked for a large insurance company here in Columbus, Ohio, and I would travel with some of our field people in a coaching capacity, I would always ask them before I agree to go out and travel with you, I want to know each agency that we’re going to see and the individuals, their names and their email. And then what I would do is construct an email and I would have my boss who at the time was the vice president of sales, send that to each of the agency owners. So you might have gotten something that said, you know, Jason, I know Dan Species is going to be calling on your agency next week. He probably told you Brian, 800 would be with him. Thought I would like to know a little bit about why Brian’s going to be in Arizona and what his role is, and then he could talk about that.
Brian Ahearn: 26:08 It removed the whose the Home Office guy set me up as an expert in things that impacted that agency. So I used to manage the agency bonus plan, so they always had questions but, but it could set me up as an expert and it worked like a charm. Every time I would go to an agency because I walked in as a known quantity, somebody who had a lot of experience and they would also, we would put in a little bit about my personal background so we could connect on that, but it’s unbelievable the difference. It would make, so anybody who’s listening to this, if you have an opportunity with a prospective client, let’s say you’ve made a call or you had an introduction and they’ve agreed to see you. If you could have somebody above you send an email, maybe it’s the owner of your company and it goes out to you, Jason and says, Jason, I know Brian is going to be coming out next week too. Speak with you, or let me tell you a little bit about him. Basically the same thing that then begins to set me up as an expert before I ever opened my mouth.
Jason Cutter: 27:04 Yeah. It’s so funny because in my years of sales management, different affiliates, different branches, and then what I do now, I’ve had the experience of getting that kind of intro in advance to the team. Where do they know who I am when I come in and the reception that that leads to versus the cold showing up. Guy from corporate in the suit, everyone freaking out and nobody knows what’s going on. Kind of reception, you know, first day showing up
Brian Ahearn: 27:33 And sometimes it’s strategic because we just want to, you know, throw me into it.
Jason Cutter: 27:37 But it’s always better like you said, and if you’re in a sales process, especially if it’s longer, some kind of introduction
Brian Ahearn: 27:43 And something that would help warm that up for you. That’s it. That’s great advice. It’s no different than a speaker bio. If you were going to stand up somewhere and and speak, it was very, it’d be very natural for somebody hosting the event to read a bio, which you probably wrote. I wrote that email that my boss would send, I wrote it, but nobody knows me better than me. Nobody knows you, Jason, better than you. And you know exactly what you want people to understand specific to that audience to make them most receptive to whatever it is that you might ask. So this doesn’t take a lot of time, but it takes some time. It takes some forethought. Otherwise you’re just operating like everybody else who’s not tapping into any of this psychology.
Jason Cutter: 28:20 Okay, so we’ve got rapport with dealt with objections, we’ve talked about third parties. We’re keeping everybody safe with the heard, they know they’re making the right decision. And then the last part for us to talk about really is, is closing, which not necessarily closing strategies in lines and techniques. A lot of people ask me like, what’s the best thing to say to close it,
Brian Ahearn: 28:40 But more
Jason Cutter: 28:41 On the persuasion side as a higher level,
Brian Ahearn: 28:44 Right? So two principles of influence that we talk about here. One is called consistency. The other one is scarcity. Consistency highlights the fact that as human beings, we feel this internal psychological pressure as well as external social pressure to be consistent in what we say and what we do. So as an example, Jason, have you ever given your word to somebody that you would be somewhere or do something with them but had to back out? Of course, yeah. And how did you feel when you had to make that phone call and say, I can’t be there.
Jason Cutter: 29:15 I didn’t like it. It wasn’t good.
Brian Ahearn: 29:17 Yeah. And that’s how most people feel. So this principle highlights the fact that first and foremost inside, we feel better about ourselves when we keep our word. And so we work pretty hard to keep our word and oh, by the way, then we also look better to anybody who’s involved with this. And that’s a powerful driver too. So the key is can I get somebody to commit? And here would be a really simple example. I’m sure that many of your listeners parents, when my daughter, who’s now 23, when she was a teenager in high school it was not uncommon maybe for my wife to say, Abigail, empty the dishwasher. Boom, we go to work. And then we come back from work, dishwasher, not empty. We might go to bed, daughter’s more of a night owl, she’d come in later, we’d get up in the morning, dishwasher, not empty.
Brian Ahearn: 30:00 And you can imagine the conversation between a mother and a teenage daughter at that point. You know, it’s, I told you to empty the dishwasher and then the excuses. I didn’t hear. I was busy. I was going to do it in a few minutes, but the difference, so she was being told what to do and I would ask her, I would say, Abigail, would you please empty the dishwasher before you leave for school? He either said yes and did it, or if she said, no, I can’t, I’m in a rush. I’d say, okay, Hey, wait a minute. Will you empty it as soon as you get home from school before you leave for work? And almost every time she’d say yes and she would do it. Why? Because once she said yes, she didn’t want to feel bad about herself and she didn’t want to look bad in my eyes. Take that same philosophy to your customers. Think about all the time that you tell them what to do rather than asking. And that’s a big difference because once they verbally or in writing commit back to you, they’re far more likely to follow through.
Jason Cutter: 30:54 Well, and I think it’s interesting, especially using the kid dishwasher example and then translating that to sales with the consistency. I think people want to stick with their word. They want to be in alignment with who they feel they are and what they’ve said they are. And in the term of sales, in terms of anything else, I think that also the follow through depends on if they respect the other person. And so I think that’s one of the parts that’s important during the sales process where you’re doing the other parts we talked about versus several other where the person respects you as that sales professional who’s trying to help them. Then they want to stick with the word that they said or what they’re doing. Cause I’ve seen it a lot where somebody says they’re going to do something, they’re going to sign up, they’re going to buy, they’re going to fill out the contract, they’re going to take it to their boss and they don’t. And I know in listening to the interactions from the outside, I know they didn’t totally respect or trust that salesperson. So yes, they’re kind of out of alignment with their own things, but they’re going to justify it with, no, I didn’t really like them. So it doesn’t matter.
Brian Ahearn: 31:54 Yeah. Well, a couple of things I’ll say to this one. This is not a magic wand, I hope. I hope your listeners don’t think that just because they employ some of this, everybody’s going to do what they want all of the time. No, but can you move more people? Absolutely. Second thing I would say is if you’ve done a really good job of building the relationship, not just fluff, but really authentically building some relationships, if you’ve been doing some things that have genuinely been good or beneficial for that other person. And I don’t just mean like offering tickets to a ball game, but maybe it’s sharing information with them that you came across and you just knew it could be helpful for them or their business. Or you find out that they’re in a charity run and you donate, but you do some things that are genuinely beneficial and then you move in and you have truly established yourself as an expert or your firm as an expert. Now you’ve got that reputation where it becomes even harder to back out of their words. So I would say if when that’s happening, you got to go back to, you know, the relationship and the objection part and look at where did I meet, where could I have done better?
Jason Cutter: 32:54 Yeah. A lot of people let us salespeople think they blew it at the close or there’s something they could have said and that’s why the person in buyer’s now not answering their follow-up phone calls. And to me, my brain always goes, no, what did you do from the beginning and in the beginning and what was their feeling of you as the professional,
Brian Ahearn: 33:12 Right. And, and then consistency comes in and I’m sure you teach, you know what’s called the upfront close, but how to ask the right questions to truly understand what that prospect needs and to be able to come back to them and say, no, I think we’re going to be able to do these things. If we can do a, B, and c, Jason, is there any other reason that I’m not aware of that would cause you to make a different decision? And you really want them to come back and say no. If you can do those things, I will make the switch. That’s what you’re hoping for them to say. Now you, you still need to ask a lot of other questions in the background I came from within insurance, you got to find out what’s the relationship with your current agent. If they’re your brother in law, I might say, Hey, last thing I want to do is spoil the holidays by taking the business from your brother in law. And either they’ll say, you know, you’re right. Or they might go, hey, the guy’s a jerk. My sister is leaving them. Like, okay, let’s talk.
Jason Cutter: 34:05 Yeah. And be respectful, but understand, you know, what’s possible. And that goes back to doing it for the win-win side, for the persuasive side where it’s got to be a win for both parties. And you know, fundamentally there’s enough people out there to sell to and you don’t need to force it. You don’t need to manipulate. You don’t need the twist anyone’s arm.
Brian Ahearn: 34:23 Yep. And the, the other principle that we talk about when it comes to, you know, beneficial for closing the sale is the principle of scarcity. And that highlights the fact that humans are more motivated by what they may lose as opposed to what they may gain. And in fact, Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel prize in economics and he’s a psychologist for psychologists to ever do that, but he won a Nobel prize for his work in this area where he and his late partner, Amos Tversky, statistically proved that human beings feel the pain of loss anywhere from two to two and a half times more. And the joy of gaining the same thing. So when we understand that here would be an example that I’ve shared. If I were in wealth management and you are my client, Jason, if I were to say, Jason, given your age, your income, and how many more years you expect to work, if we can find a way for you to save just 1% more by my estimates, that’ll be $150,000 more in your retirement. That’s motivating. But if I were to approach it this way, and I’d say, Jason, based on your age, how much you make and your years that you’ll continue to work. If we can’t find a way for you to say 1% more, you’ll have lost $150,000 of your retirement. It feels a little different, doesn’t it?
Jason Cutter: 35:34 Yeah.
Brian Ahearn: 35:36 It’s framed as it’s your money
Jason Cutter: 35:38 And you will lose it. If you don’t take this action. It’s still the same thing, right? 1% equals the 150,000 but how I talk about it, it makes a big difference. And for people who think, well, that’s being negative or a scare tactic. No, it’s using the language that science says is most persuasive. And I guarantee you this, Jason, if you save that 1% and down the road, you retire, you will not come back to me and say, darn you Brian, for scaring me into saving that money. What am I going to do with this? 150 grand. Right? Hey, thank you. Honestly, alerting me to what was on the line. Yeah. And, and again, if we go way, way back caveman prehistoric, you know, our animals side, the lizard part of our brains, it’s not worried about gain. It’s not focused on how do I get more, it’s how do I protect what I have and not lose it for the sake of my survival and you know, my family or my genes.
Jason Cutter: 36:32 It’s not about how do I get a bigger cave. It’s how do I not lose my current cave and make my life worse. And you know, that’s the challenge when you’re trying to get somebody to make a change as a salesperson, you’re trying to inspire that change and affect that change and get them to do something different. Like you said, people are more motivated by fear of loss than they are of hope of the gain. And you’ve got to understand that and use that as long as you’re using it on the persuasive side, the ethical persuasion to get them to make a decision that’s going to benefit them, then it’s important that people understand both sides. The loss and the gain. Yes. And the ethical part of it. And this is where sometimes people don’t use principles that are natural to the situation, will invoke a false sense of scarcity.
Jason Cutter: 37:16 A good example are people who might tell you siding, roofing gutters or other things and they’re coming into your home and it’s a hard sell for, you know, 90 minutes to two hours and they’ll say something like, well, if you signed today, I can save you 15% but if I have to come back at a later date, I can’t give you that discount. That’s bogus because there’s nothing that’s really scarce there. Even that salesperson’s time, is it scarce in the sense that it’s a tough sale and if they’ve got to go visit, you know, eight more clients tomorrow, they would love somebody to call them up and say, I’m ready to buy. They’d be over at your house in a heartbeat. So yeah. Now if something happened, if there were a natural disaster, a big hurricane, it might be legitimate for somebody to say, look, if we act now, we can get the lumber at this price, but I’m being honest with you because of the hurricane, there’s going to be a drain on supplies to get down there and do the rebuilding.
Jason Cutter: 38:04 If we don’t act, you might end up paying a lot more or have to wait a significant amount of time. That’s legitimate, but not this. If I have to come back, you can’t get this price. That’s bogus. Yeah. And that sets up a lot of people I’ve seen where they say, you know, if you buy by the end of the month or you know, if you can do this by the end of the week and decide, I’ll give you this discount. They don’t decide the next month the rep calls and then the person saying, well, what kind of discount do you have now? Or you know, what are you going to offer me? And then it’s just this terrible relationship that’s set up so incorrectly based this false scarcity.
Brian Ahearn: 38:36 Yeah. And what’s really scarce there when you get that is the sales person’s potential bonus, right? They want to hit some metric and if they don’t hit a certain number, they’re not going to get a bonus or something. So they’re acting out of their own scarcity and giving you those reduced prices. But it’s not that because that deal will probably come around at the end of the next month or next quarter or next year. You just got to wait for it. There’s always a semi-annual sale to just wait for cause it’ll be back. That’s right. Absolutely. I appreciate everything that you shared. This is so much good information. As we wrap up here, where can people find you? I’m going to put all your links and information, your bio, everything for you, your book, your programs in the show notes so people can find it on the cutter consulting group.com website.
Brian Ahearn: 39:22 But where can people find you? Where can people reach out to you? What’s the best place? Well, I would say start with LinkedIn. I accept everybody and if then what I would ask is tell me why you’re reaching out. Tell me that you’ve listened to the podcast. So I know when people reach out to me and they don’t tell me, I shoot a message back and say, I’m curious, how did you come across my profile? I like to understand why I’m getting the traffic. So reach out to me to connect on LinkedIn. From there you’ll see all kinds of stuff, but certainly my website influenced people. Dot Biz has all kinds of resources. I’ve been blogging weekly for the last 10 years. I’ve got lots of videos, I’ve got links to podcasts that I’d been on. And as you mentioned, I just came out with a book.
Brian Ahearn: 40:03 So if people want to really dig in deeper into this as called influence people with the subtitle, powerful everyday opportunities to persuade that are lasting and ethical. That’s perfect. I appreciate it. Brian, thanks for being on the show and it was such a pleasure talking with you. Yeah, I, I really enjoyed it. Jason. Thank you for having me on. All right. And everyone, like I said, you can find the transcript, the show notes, everything on the cutter consulting group.com website. Make sure to subscribe to the show, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify. You can find it on Soundcloud, Google play. That’s it for this episode.
And as always, remember that everything in life is sales and people remember the experience you gave them.