Objection Hacks: Part 1

Objection Hacks: Part 1

It's no secret that if you're having trouble overcoming objections, you probably did something wrong during the presentation. Because had you done it correctly you would have uncovered all the objections early on and would be prepared to overcome them. But guess what? The world ain’t perfect.

So what I want to share with you are 10 “Objection Hacks” that you can use to increase sales.

Hack #1 - Belief Affirmation

Dealing with objections is very common in the world of influence. Objection is the twin brother of agreement – there really is no way to have one without the other. This doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to losses and defeats; you just have to know how to entice agreement (instead of objection).

The easiest way to handle objections is by avoiding them in the first place. You see, people hold their core beliefs and principles sacred. They have to protect these beliefs because these ideas represent stability in a person’s life. Attempting to change them on the spot will cause the other person to become overly defensive.

To avoid the situation where you have to engage in verbal fencing with a defensive influencee, I suggest that you find as many values and beliefs to reaffirm before making your offer.

Because as you agree with another person’s beliefs, his defenses go down until he no longer feels threatened by your presence or your ideas. A person would slam the door on a stranger who’s offering the fountain of youth – but a person would never say no to a best friend who has cooked up a crazy idea.

I want you to strive to become your subject’s ‘best friend’ during the conversation. I want you to make the subject as comfortable and trusting as possible so you can avoid objections. Of course, there would still be objections but as a person becomes more and more trusting, he would find fewer and fewer reasons to object to what is being laid out on the table.

Avoid debates that directly counter the subject’s long-standing beliefs – even if you win, your subject will never forgive you for debunking his belief. It’s better to harmonize with subject as much as possible – arguments only create friction and distance between you and the subject.

Hack #2 - Outcome Focusing

When a master influencer comes across a truly reluctant subject, he must not feel even an iota of despair because even the most reticent subject can be gradually drawn out from their defensive stance and fully influenced.

If your influence groundwork is falling apart, you need a more robust system of persuasion. In this section I’m going to share with eight simple steps that will counter most objections by focusing on the outcome of the transaction between you and the other party.

Identify the problem that your offer can solve. You have to be very specific here because wary subjects tend to ignore generalizations even more. Be specific about the issue or problem that you can help solve.

After identifying the problem I want you to show the subject what would happen if this problem continues and he does not do anything to resolve it. Showcase the negative outcomes (i.e. extra costs over time) that will result from inaction.

Ask the subject what type of resolution or outcome he wants to see after being confronted with the issue or problem.

Ask the subject what would happen if he chooses to solve the problem.

Ask the subject again if this new route (the resolution) is really what he wants at the moment.

Think of the long-term effects of the solution that you are offering the subject. Will it really help the other person or will it benefit only you in the end? Re-evaluate. If you think your solution won’t help in the long-term you have to make this clear to the other subject so he won’t have any undue expectations.

If the subject gives an answer that doesn’t completely align with what you want to hear, don’t be too quick to judge. Hear him out and try convincing him again.

Never insinuate or state that the other person’s beliefs are wrong. You will only open a can of worms each time that you do that. Harmonize instead of creating more friction.

Hack #3 - Peak Experience

Humans have a funny way of processing and remembering events. If a person enjoyed something, even if it were just ten minutes of relaxation, he would remember that for as long as he lived.

But if he were enjoying something and that enjoyment was interrupted for even a short period of time, he would remember the end-experience (which is negative) and forget all about the previous pleasure or enjoyment that he had experienced prior to the negative end-experience.

This is by no means an obstacle to influence but rather, it is a window of opportunity. If someone says no to your offer, backtrack just a little bit so you can ask questions that would later erode the resistance of the subject.

If your offer was rejected at first, I want you to ask the subject about his last experience with your competitor. A competitor is any person (or business, if you are a business person) that was previously associated with the subject. Slowly draw out their negative experience and what happened after they had that negative experience.
At this point in time, your subject will slowly remember the negatives more than the positives because that is simply how the human mind operates. After drawing out the negative experiences from your competitor, slowly lead the subject to what you have to offer and what you can do so that he will never have such negative experiences every again (if he chooses to stick with your offer).

Just make sure that you can back up your claims with action; otherwise, the subject will most likely leave you again after having a bad experience. You can use this tactic to transform a “no” mindset into a “yes” mindset. It might take some time to take effect, but it will eventually work. And it can be used in any situation, too!

Hack #4 - Harmonize

When an influencer is operating on full power, he usually views the subject as a direct target. The influencer will do everything in his power to disprove the other person’s beliefs about what is being offered at the moment. The result of such all-out attacks is usually utter failure.

Because no matter how hard you insinuate that a person is wrong for holding certain beliefs, that person will simply ignore you – or worse, fight you until the very end. And we know what that means for influencers. Influencers are at a disadvantage because if the subject walks away, the influencer walks away with nothing but tension and disappointment.

So here’s my advice to you when you are faced with the task of persuading someone who is unmoving in his beliefs. Don’t tell the other person that he’s wrong. Don’t tell him that he has been holding ineffective or false beliefs all his life.

Don’t say that you are in the right and he’s utterly wrong. Instead, harmonize with the other person and ask him to imagine himself performing something for you by accepting another belief. The subject must realize himself what he can gain by accepting your offer.

And if his beliefs are getting in the way, you must loosen those deeply embedded beliefs by providing beliefs of your own. Beliefs eventually lead to target behavior. Your goal is to change someone’s belief so that his behavior will also change.

You can’t change a person’s behavior for the long term if his beliefs remain the same. Your subject must experience for himself what would happen if he changed his beliefs.

You become more than an influencer – you will actually be instructing and guiding the person as he transforms his deeply rooted beliefs. That is completely different from just saying that the other person is wrong. Doing that will clearly get you nowhere – fast.

Hack #5 - Avoid Option Attachment

There are three things that you would always want to avoid when you are pitching an idea, product or service: buyer remorse, anticipated regret and the worst of the three, option attachment.

Buyer remorse takes place when the person regrets having purchased something from you. Anticipated regret is the decision to not buy anything because the buyer feels that he will only regret it later on. Option attachment is the deadliest of the three because it can leave a potential buyer paralyzed with indecision for a very long time.

What is option attachment anyway? Option attachment happens when a person is faced with two options that he finds very attractive. To the decision-maker, choosing one would mean losing the other good option and so choosing would actually equate with instant loss.

The option-attached individual would also feel that if he chooses one, the other option would probably look tantalizingly attractive a few days later. Faced with this loopy conundrum, the option-attached subject will think about the two options to no end – but he will not make a decision anytime soon. To the influencer, option-attached individuals represent uncertainty and a potential dead end.

You can remedy this problem in two steps. First, you have to make sure that during the dialog, the subject will not grow fond or attached to any other option that you present (in the effort to explore both sides of the coin). To be safe, showcase an inferior option so that it would not be logical to be found of such an option at all.

The decision-making stage should also be as quick as possible. Lead the subject to say yes; don’t wait for him to say yes because if you allow him to do that he might grow even more attached to options that you presented him.

The second step has something to do with the options involved in your discussion. Don’t start with the better option (which is your offer). Start with the poorer option and then transition as fast as you can to the better option. Don’t let the subject develop a connection with the option that will ultimately be discarded.

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Hack #6 - Behavioral Scripts

Objections arise because the subject is unsure where to go – the ‘default’ response to uncertainty is disagreement. Disagreement is equated with stability and avoidance of change.

Change can either be good or bad – but humans instinctually associate change with negative consequences so that’s another obstacle that you should prepare for.

If you do encounter a staunch objection, you can try behavioral scripts to modify the cause of the negative behavior, which is just the belief of the person regarding a particular issue or object. Here’s an example of a behavioral script:

“You open your email in the morning to find that you have made three hundred sales in just one day. You also receive a report that your store has been restocked and your website is in fine working condition. You don’t have to worry about a thing anymore as you prepare for a fine day with the family. We take care of everything, night and day for you.”
When you give a person a script to work with, you are actually giving the other person instructions as to how he can modify his own behavior. He might not understand the nature of the script, but that’s how it works. The best thing about behavior scripts is that people tend to repeat the script even after the meeting.

This is influence in action. Your words and your intentions stay with the subject even if you are not there with them anymore. However, in order for a behavioral script to be truly effective you must instruct the subject to imagine himself in the ideal situation.

It won’t work if he imagines some John Doe getting all the benefits of your offer. He must experience the benefits in his own imagination so that the effect and impact of the script will linger for days. In your next meeting, try asking for compliance again – you might be surprised with the subject’s answer then.

Hack #7 - Buyer’s Remorse Reversal

Buyer’s remorse can ruin repeat business because it can dissuade people from having dealings with you again. Before that even happens, you have to make sure that the subject has been ‘inoculated’ against buyer remorse even before he leaves your sight.

Imagine you were talking right now with a person who seems to be suffering from buyer remorse. He just bought something from you because your offer looked so tempting at that time.

And now he’s telling you that he won’t be ordering again because of reason A, reason B, etc. What can you do to end this irrational remorse? You can ‘inoculate’ this person by supporting his decision outright and by helping him prepare for the remorse that is sure to come. You can say something like:

“We both know that you invested a lot into this service because you want your home and business establishment to be secure, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s for your own peace of mind. What will you tell people if they ask you about your decision to invest a sizable amount for your peace of mind?”

After dropping that vital question, let the subject think of ways as to how he can fully justify his decision to take your offer. By doing this, the subject won’t feel hopeless and helpless when the pangs of buyer remorse start kicking in.

Even if no one really asks the subject why he invested resources for your offer, the justification that he has crafted in his mind will be enough to halt buyer’s remorse. Because in the end, other people’s words won’t really matter – what does matter is what the subject thinks and feels.

If he is defeated by buyer’s remorse, you can forget about repeat business. But if he is successful in battling buyer’s remorse, your influence stays with that person for good.

Hack #8 - Empathize

Empathy is defined as “the action of understanding/being aware/being sensitive as well as vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experiences of another person”. To be empathetic means you are consciously putting yourself in the other person’s shoes in an effort to understand him and to communicate with him more effectively.

This might not sound like a solution to objections at all, but if you look at the nature of objections, you will see why it can be such an effective tool of influence. Let me repeat a point I made in a previous section: people only say “no” because you haven’t shown that you can bring them to your target destination safely.

The “no” will stay until you are able to show that you will not cause harm or grief in any way. Empathy is a fast and easy way to project a genuinely caring persona during a social interaction.

To be empathetic means you must how that you are interested and you are an active listener as well. You are there not to take away someone’s hard earned resources but to add to those resources through whatever you have to offer.

When a person keeps saying no to you that simply means that trust and rapport has not yet been achieved. If you are unsure as to how to express your genuine care for the other party, you can ask them questions that will help them relate what they want to achieve and what kinds of solutions they want to see.

As the other party begins to share his thoughts you must continue asking questions so you will get a fuller picture of what’s going on in the other person’s mind. Statements like “I feel the same way about that issue…” can be used to reinforce the idea that you are there to solve the other party’s problems and not add to it.

Hack #9 Strategic Vagueness

Before I draw any violent reactions, let me be clear – strategically vague words and sentences are used frequently by so many people to gain compliance from people; people just don’t know they’re actually using such words. Here are some examples of strategically vague words:

You need a streamlined and proactive system to iron out the wrinkles in your business.

The technological revolution will save businesses from going bust.

The best vacation ever is the one that combines leisure with pleasure.

The best decisions are the ones that are done in the heat of the moment.

At first glance, the sentences above appear to be really positive messages – but in reality, these are vague sentences. That is actually the strength of vague words and sentences; in the absence of clear meaning, the brain assigns meaning to make sense of the input.

Sometimes, it would be best to just let the other subject make his own conclusions on the issue based on a strategically vague input.

When you are getting a lot of objections and flak from your subject, backtrack a little and reintroduce your offer with strategically vague words. Your subject will probably be surprised at the change and he will start thinking differently about your offer.

If that works, stick with the theme and start building your influence groundwork once again. We must all remember that the process of influencing others is not linear nor does it follow a singular, traceable path.

It’s filled with ups and downs and so many twists that sometimes it’s hard to keep track of what you had to go through just to gain compliance. This is the reason why you should always strive to add to your repertoire of influence strategies because you never know which one would come in handy.

Hack #10 - Physical Involvement

If you are planning to persuade someone who is known for saying “no” to new ideas, this technique just might help him say “yes” faster. This technique doesn’t involve verbal techniques or complex persuasion structures.

The only thing that you have to do is to lead the person to do something physically during the interaction. By allowing a person to perform an action related to the interaction, defenses are brought down immediately and the person is forced to show body language that approves of the interaction.

Here’s a sample scenario: let’s say you were about to be joined in a meeting by a person who was known to disagree with almost anyone he meets. How can you ensure that this person won’t disagree with the points you will be raising later on in the meeting?

You can try asking the subject to arrange the chairs for you or you can ask him to help you carry stuff to the front of the meeting room. Think of something for the other person to do so that he would a claim over the meeting itself.

Doing so will reduce friction and disagreement and will ultimately help you persuade and influence that person. There has to be some degree of involvement especially in situations where you have to sell something (urgently) to another person or to a group of people.

If a person becomes involved, he will feel that he partly owns the event/situation and he will feel responsible for producing a positive outcome (any positive outcome always benefits the influencer, or both parties).

The best thing about this technique is that it can be done covertly/secretly – the other party will never know that you were trying to influence him/her in the first place.

This is a good thing because people have a tendency to think that they are being manipulated. If manipulation becomes an issue, the other party might decide to simply walk away from dealing with you.

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How To Overcome Objections The Right Way

Many people are afraid of objections. Not hard to understand why. It's basically a form of rejection and most people don't like being rejected.

But what if I told you that there's a way to reduce the odds of you being rejected even before you make your pitch?

And what if I told that there is a rock solid formula for overcoming objections if in fact you do get shut down?

Would you like that?

If so, then watch this video.

Hypnotic Sales Techniques

Hypnotic Sales Techniques

A significant percentage of individuals who study persuasion and hypnotic language patterns are in the business of selling products and services to others.

Even if you are not in the business of selling, it would still be a good idea to learn this system because it can be applied to many situations; you just have to make the necessary adjustments to make the glove fit.

Phase 1: Initial Preparations

1. Make sure that you are mentally ready for the task at hand. If you are going to meet a group of administrators or project managers, be prepared to deal with their questions and your presentation should also be created in such a way that it will provide all of the information that your audience needs to make a quick decision.

By ‘presentation’ I refer to the content of your message during the dialog or interaction. If you are meeting with just one client you still need to think about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.

2. One of the best ways to create a compelling and persuasive message is to use perceptual positions. When crafting your message you can’t put yourself in the center in the message. You are not the one who needs to be persuaded – you are the least priority.

The real priority is the other person; you need to determine his values and drives so you can say the right things to him. You also need to determine how your product or service is viewed by the client.

You might know just how good your product is but other people might have a different opinion. You need to identify this perspective and work on any potential objections even before you meet with the client.

Here are some things to consider:

a. What problem/s does the product/ service address?

b. What kind of results can the client expect when he does cash in on your offer?

c. In what manner must you articulate these benefits so that the client can make a fast decision based on the information you are offering to him?

Phase 2: Meeting the Client for the First Time

1. Before you even think of making any offer to the client, you need to make a clear connection with the subject first. In addition to creating rapport between you and the subject, you will also need to condition the subject to buy something from you. This can be done by triggering the law of reciprocity, etc.

2. After establishing rapport with the client, you need to make an offer he can’t refuse. This doesn’t mean that you have to give the person an unreasonable discount or a bonus that you can’t really afford to give. You just have to give the client or potential buyer a really good reason why he should buy something from you right then and there.

You must attach a lot of value (implied or otherwise) to your offer for it to work. Otherwise the client would probably have no problems walking away from you if he thinks that your product/service is not valuable enough.

You should also make it clear why the client should be listening to what you have to offer on that day. Use facts and statistics to boost your position in the interaction. Remember: if something can be verified easily, it can elicit agreement fast!

3. If you are going to one or more hypnotic language patterns, set them into motion early in the conversation to get things going. You can always repeat the patterns later on – don’t wait too long. If you can use the patterns in the first few minutes of the dialog (just to test the waters) then by all means, use the patterns.

But before you do this, make sure that you have practiced well before the actual conversation with the client. Do not practice the patterns on your client! If you make a mistake, that mistake may cost you a sale. Use the patterns only if you feel confident in using them.

If you are not confident and the hypnotic language patterns don’t feel natural when you say them, you probably need a few more sessions of practice. Don’t worry – you’ll get there eventually. Just keep practicing!

Phase 3: Uncovering the Needs of the Client

Client needs are essentially just problems waiting for solutions. These needs are windows of opportunity for a person who needs to sell a product or service.

While you can do a lot of research so you can have a general idea of what the client might need at the moment, it’s still better to get the information directly from the person. Here are some sample questions that help draw out these needs:

  • How do you think your business would be faring in five years or ten years?
  • What are your immediate goals and long term goals for your business?
  • What system are you thinking of employing so you can achieve your immediate/current goals and your long term goals?
  • What would be the consequences if you fail to achieve your current goals? What about your long term goals?
  • If you do achieve these goals, what advantages would you get over your competition?
  • Why is it so important for you to achieve these immediate goals? Why not set other goals instead?
  • What values do you cherish the most in your current group of employees?

In addition to asking the client about his current needs, you can also phrase the questions in such a way that the client would also realize what would happen to him if his needs are not satisfied by a product or service that provides exactly what he needs.

Some of you might be wondering: what if the client doesn’t have an immediate need for what I am offering right now? If your client does not express a need for what you are offering, you must create the need yourself by associating his current needs with the problems that your product/service addresses.

Your product/service provides a solution to a problem. If that specific problem is not within the radar of the client, then you must put it there yourself.

That is the only way that you will be able to effectively pitch your product. If you don’t do this, your client would probably think that buying your service/product would be a complete waste of cash and time.

Expert Strategies for Dealing with Customers, Part 1

Customers are obviously the life of a business – but what happens when a business owner starts crumbling when he needs to convince a customer to see things his way?

Today’s discussion will focus on specific tactics that can be used in business/sales settings. Feel free to experiment with these techniques regardless of the mode of communication (e.g. phone conversation, live dialog, text messaging, etc.). The important thing here is that you are able to apply the techniques and learn something new about how to deal with customers on a daily basis.

The first lesson that I am going to share with you today is quite simple: people decide based on what their internal gauges are telling them. You have your own internal gauges.

Your customer has his own gauges. You might feel that you are already offering the best deal in the world but that doesn’t matter in the conversation at all because what you need is a sale.

Each person has his own way of measuring advantages, benefits and risks. While it is true that you can invest a lot of time trying to explain away the risks, the sale won’t happen if you are not paying attention to the customer’s feedback.

So if you think the customer does not appreciate the benefits, you have to ask a string of questions to draw out the hidden objections. Only then would you be able to supply the information needed to ‘change the readings’ of the customer’s internal gauges.

The 2nd lesson concerns the USP or your Unique Selling Proposition. What do you have to offer your customers that would make you stand out from all the rest? What can you bring the table that two hundred other competitors still haven’t brought to the table themselves?

Dig deep and figure out how you can make yourself unique and special and I can assure you – your customers will gradually change their perception of you and the business that you represent.

If you don’t change, I cannot even guarantee that they would try to change their perception of your business. And why would they? You haven’t change at all – why should they even change their mind if you are not offering something fresh and positive?

The 3rd lesson is all about choosing the right customers. We all know that a customer is only useful to a business if he actually does business with you and he openly shows that he values whatever you are offering. If a customer is happy to do business with you and is a repeat customer, he belongs to the “20” group or the upper 20% of the customers that your business has had the pleasure to have.

If a customer always complains and constantly becomes a burden to deal with, he probably belongs to the “80” group of 80% of the problematic people that every business has to contend with if they want to survive. Face it – not all customers are angels.

You are eventually going to meet a bunch of customers that are simply not worth your time. Don’t worry – these customers will have a use. Send them to your competition and let your competition handle these difficult people. Focus your energy and time on the “20” group. Your business would blossom if you do this.

Of course, if you can add more people from the “80” group to the “20” group, that will be favorable because the more paying customers you have, the better.

But sometimes, if a person is too resistant and is too much of a bother, he simply is not worth your time anymore. It’s a hard truth that we all have to deal with. Don’t be afraid to send a customer away especially if the customer becomes too aggressive or resistant to your best efforts.

Now, let’s talk about another problem that businesses have been dealing with since time immemorial: customers who feel that they are entitled to everything just because they are the customers.

Don’t get me wrong – I love customers. I love people who come to me for business opportunities. However, there are times when a customer seems to have prepared for a battle more than anything else when steps up and talks to the business owner.

This is when it gets problematic. What do you do when the customer is aggressive and doesn’t want to compromise with you? My tip for you is quite simple: be brutally honest with the customer. By “brutally honest” I don’t mean that you should be extremely aggressive.

Keep smiling as you talk but make sure that you share the details that you haven’t been sharing before. For example, if the customer is asking for a large discount that you can’t give, explain why you can’t give the discount. If the customer feels that he is entitled to a discount, he is also entitle to a full disclosure of why he can’t get one under certain circumstances.

Today’s final lesson centers on the idea of perception. Your perception of the world, as far as you are concerned, is the totality of reality. Your perception may be close to the perception of the customer but at the same time there will be marked differences because you are completely different people.

Often, it is more productive to adapt the viewpoint of the customer so you can understand why he is talking and behaving in a particular way. Once you get into the shoes of the customer, it would be much easier to explain details and offer relevant solutions. If you want to be relevant, you have to know the customer’s needs.

Again, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If the customer’s needs sound strange to you, have him explain his needs in terms that you can understand.

People appreciate it when a business owner or sales person asks questions instead of assuming what the customer needs. Often, assumptions are wrong because if you are addressing the needs of a single customer, his particular needs will be markedly different from the needs of the next customer.

Admitting Faults Can Make You Trustworthy

People usually go through life thinking that they have to be perfect in order to be truly persuasive and influential. While it might sound logical to want to be perfect, recent studies show that admitting little faults can actually help you create an image of trustworthiness and credibility.

How is this possible? A study spearheaded by Gerd Bohner sheds light on the idea of using faults to boost one’s public image and acceptability. In Bohner’s study, three advertising campaigns were created to test the effectiveness of admitting faults in boosting the appeal of a restaurant to newer patrons.

The first advertising campaign focused on just the positive characteristics of the restaurant. The second campaign on the other hand, provided positive characteristics and negative characteristics that had absolutely no connection with the positive ones.

The third advertising campaign provided related negative and positive traits. In the last campaign, the restaurant was touted as very cozy but relatively small. The negative trait of the restaurant was its size but that was exactly the reason why it was so cozy in the first place.

To the recipient of this message, the advertisement showed why the restaurant should be patronized in the first place (i.e. it was so cozy and the owners wanted to keep it that way). The negative aspects that were revealed in the third advertising campaign were not really meant to showcase the flaws of the restaurants. The advertisements covertly promoted the weaknesses as strengths.

While the second and third advertising campaigns raised the appeal of the restaurant to would-be patrons, it was the third campaign that created the most buzz because the negative and positive traits are related, as opposed to the second campaign which featured unrelated positive and negative traits.

What does this study show us? If we were to apply Bohner’s findings to our own quest for influence and persuasion, it is clear that if we were to reveal our weaknesses, we have to make sure that every negative side is associated with a positive side that would outshine the negative.

The positive traits should always stand out in any statement; otherwise, you might end up destroying your own image in the attempt to make yourself look good.

If you are building your own personal image so that people would find it easier to trust your ideas and decisions, do not be afraid to reveal your weaknesses and at the same time remain humble.

Humility is a sign of power and history has taught us that the individuals with the most bombast are often the ones who fall and fail the hardest. If you want to create an aura of power and authority, you have to keep your ego in check. If you let your ego run wild, people will most likely become defensive and they will reject you.

Now, if you want to use this approach to promote a service or a product, you have to take a slightly different route. When it comes to selling, the point of contention is almost always the price point of the product or service.

The price is also the most common reason why people turn away from an offer because people are hardwired to preserve their resources. So how can we convince a person to give up his precious financial resource? The secret is to show all of the great advantages of what you are offering (positive traits) first before showing the negative aspect (the price).

Does this sound like you are destroying your own chances of success? Not really. You see, people like sincerity. People love the fact that an influencer can be completely honest with them. Honesty is always a good route in any situation, bar none.

Your genuineness and honesty will bring you above the competition because you will be giving your offer a human face. You will be able to trigger emotional responses more easily if you follow this route. Some of you might be asking: if it were this easy then why don’t people just buy great stuff at premium prices all the time?

People usually turn away from pricey offers because they get the impression that the high price point is a good thing/positive trait. No one in their right mind would think that a high price point is always a good thing. But when an influencer comes out and says that the high price point is a negative aspect that comes with providing so much value.

After showing them the negative aspect of the product, you can then follow up with more feature-benefits. You can tell your clients that your product might be more expensive in the beginning, but it will pay for itself over time because it will serve its purpose for a longer period of time and it will provide all of the benefits throughout its lifespan. You must appeal to both the audience’s emotions and logic because some people rationalize while some let their imaginations and emotions do all the thinking. It would be better to appeal to both groups of people.

If you are interacting with just one person, do the same – appeal to his sense of practicality and logic while stimulating his emotions and imagination. He doesn’t stand a chance against a master influencer who is pulling out all the stops to get the deal.

Now, before we end our discussion I would like you to take a look at these two statements:

“My product is 40% more expensive than what the competitor is offering but it’s better.”

“My product is 40% more expensive but over the long term it will work better, consumes fewer resources and will help you save time and other resources. You can relax now knowing that something this good will be helping you along the way.”

Which of the preceding statements do you think would appeal to both imaginative/creative individuals and rationalistic individuals?

The Persuasive Power of Questions

Have you ever wondered why veteran pitch men seem to get their way when they are selling something on TV? Part of their success is their ability to use questions to their advantage even if they are in a largely one-way interaction (i.e. TV audiences can’t really respond to their questions).

Questions have that unique ability to trigger an emotional response from the target or subject. If you say the right questions at the right times, you are bound to succeed in persuading or influencing your subject. Using questions to trigger a specific emotional response in a subject is a good example of covert influence.

One of the main reasons why questions are so effective is the fact that when someone comes up to you to ask something, you can’t really ignore that person’s question. Mentally, we have been conditioned to respond to questions – it is part of the linguistic learning that we have had through the years. To ignore a question would feel very strange indeed.

Studies have also shown that answering questions is actually a part of our automatic/instinctual behavior set. That means we humans are hard-wired to respond – there is no escaping it. A subject will answer regardless of his level of desire or willingness.

Pretty sneaky, isn’t it? Society expects people to answer questions because it is the ‘right thing to do’ in most situations. To ignore a question would be to act rudely and no one likes to be branded a rude person. That’s why people answer questions mentally even if they don’t blurt out their responses. If you can get someone to say yes mentally, that’s enough to get you what you want.

Benefits of using questions

Here are some key advantages of using questions during a social interaction:

Remember how trance states work? When a person is in a trance state, he is focused on something (not necessarily on what you are saying). Asking questions automatically dissolves a subject’s trance state because he is forced to process and respond to the question. So the next time your audience looks bored with what you are saying, you can ‘reset’ the interaction by asking a series of questions to help your audience focus on what you really want to say.

When you ask questions, your subject becomes a little defensive, which buys you a little time to plan ahead. As long as you don’t taunt your audience just because you want them to feel defensive, a little defensiveness probably won’t hurt your interaction. Asking big questions like “what do you really want to achieve?” can buy you a lot of time.

Asking questions gives your audience the opportunity to directly interact with you. Let’s face it – people love to hear themselves talk. It’s natural for people to want to speak because we are social creatures. If you allow your subject to respond to his heart’s content (as long as the response is still part of what you had in mind), your subject will feel as though you are a partner or ally.

Asking questions also kindle interest. By asking thought-provoking questions, you can easily grab your subject’s attention again and again.

If the subject is still not buying what you are saying, you can draw out any objections out in the open by asking a series of questions. Objections can be dealt with easily if you know how to ask questions.

Questions also speed up the process of convincing people that you are offering the logical choice. Since people will be forced to answer strategically crafted questions, answers can be anticipated and can be used to the next set of questions, and so on.

Asking the right questions

Here are some guidelines that will help you create questions that will create a strong impact on your audience:

Ask questions that will logically lead to one fixed answer. Don’t ask general and open questions that might lead to confusion. So if you are trying to sell an idea to your manager, try asking a question that appeal to his sense of efficiency like “would you want something that will make every team member work more efficiently than before?” The logical answer to this question would be “yes” because saying “no” would be tantamount to saying that one loves inefficiency.

Ask questions that can readily be answered by your subject. While it sometimes feels good to ask questions that can only be answered by you, this approach can actually alienate your subject. We don’t want to alienate our subjects. We don’t want them to feel disconnected and overly defensive. We want them to share what they know in such a way that it would support our cause. That is how you will ultimately influence others.

Ask leading questions whenever possible. A leading question is simply a statement that has been transformed into a question that can be answered by a yes or no. Your questions can be answered by a yes or no, depending on what you want the subject to think in the first place.

Don’t forget to add that emotional impact to your questions. For example, if you want the subject to buy a new house, try asking questions like “How happy would your kids be when they finally have a place of their own where they can rest, learn and have fun all they want?” Emotional triggers are more powerful than logical triggers because a person would readily act upon an emotional response. Logic and rationalism are somewhat subdued compared to emotions.

You can close deals more easily by using choice questions. A choice question doesn’t really give the subject a choice because in any case, he will be agreeing with what you are saying. Here’s an example: “When would you like me to ship this case of new shirts, tomorrow or Monday next week?” The question itself appears as if the subject has a choice but in reality, he doesn’t.

Persuasion Key Number One: Begin With The End In Mind

One of the greatest books I ever read in my life is called “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Dr. Stephen R. Covey.  In his book, Stephen mentions habit number two, which is “Begin with the end in mind.”  This is one of the most powerful habits that anyone could ever have, because it involves visualization.  This step is extremely powerful for a number of reasons.

First, the mind cannot distinguish the difference between a dream and reality.  This is the reason why oftentimes when we dream, we wake up and feel like the dream is still happening.  Experience in life makes us better at certain things, because it equips us with knowledge and it helps build confidence and experience.  The mind can't really distinguish the difference between events that actually take place in your life versus events that are imagined.

One of the best ways to gain the experience of a real-life situation is by imagining it in your mind.  So if you can effectively visualize yourself becoming an expert at persuasion, and more specifically, clearly envision yourself persuading the person that you're about to begin speaking to, the odds are that you will become that much more effective.

Beginning with the end in mind also allows you to clearly see every step that's about to take place.  Oftentimes when we start from the beginning with no picture of what the end will look like, we can often be going through a sequence of steps that can change direction at various different times, because we think that making that change in direction will help us.  However, in reality, what this does sometimes is take us off the path to where we wind up in a completely different destination than where we started.

This is why it's extremely important to begin with the end in mind.  If you can begin with the end in mind, than you already know where your destination is.  Then it's just a matter of figuring out the steps that you need to take prior to getting there that lead up to where you are right now.  This leaves no room for straying off your path and winding up in unknown territory.

Persuasion begins in the mind.  The only way to better the chances of you getting what you want is to be clear about it. Once you are clear, everything else begins to fall into place.

I ask people all the time about what they want out of life and in most cases, the answers are so ambiguous. "I want more money, a better career, a perfect soul mate, etc."

While these desires are certainly nice and much better than wanting to get high and drunk all day, they are not clearly defined. When you are not clear about the specific outcome that you want (in any given situation) it is very unlikely that you will experience that outcome.

This is especially true of the persuasion process. If you want someone to do something specific, be clear about it and then begin to put a plan in place to make it happen.

As the old saying goes "ask and you shall receive". Believe it or not, you have mental faculties way beyond what you can even imagine. Even if the outcome seems impossible at first, it doesn't matter. Think of the outcome that you desire and keep asking yourself how it can be achieved. Eventually, the mind will start providing you with answers.

At first, those answers may be ridiculous or way off the mark but you have at least begun the process of getting closer to answers you want.

Think of whatever it is that you want from your target and visualize what the process of them complying with you looks like. Then, begin to envision every event that would have to take place prior for that to happen.