The Influential Steve Jobs

recently read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. It was an interesting book about one of the most influential people of the last 100 years. When I say Jobs was influential I don’t mean in the sense of necessarily using the science of influence. I say Jobs was influential because the products he developed are used by so many people around the world and have set the standard for many communication devices today. Indeed, the iPhone and iPad are the standards when it come to phones and tablet technology.

I found an interesting paradox as I was reading the book, because I enjoyed the book but found myself disliking Jobs the more I got into it. At times I caught myself thinking, “I love my iPhone but can’t stand him.” I almost felt guilty that I enjoy so much what he invented because of the path he took to get there and how he negatively impacted so many people along the way.
There were certain descriptions used of Jobs throughout the book that I found to be nonsensical, particularly his “reality distortion field.” The author and many people he quotes talk about Jobs’ vision – be it for a new product, deadline or something he simply believed – as if he had some magical power to distort reality. He was certainly a visionary and he had a strong will coupled with a bully-like approached that helped get things done. For those reading this who played sports, think of your meanest, toughest coach and multiply that person many times over and you begin to get the picture of the approach Jobs used with people. Nonetheless, if you enjoy Apple products or just biographies of people who shaped history then I encourage you to pick up Steve Jobs because it’s a fascinating look at the man who’s had so much impact on the world we live in.
The following paragraph caught my attention and is the basis for this post because it relates to the science of influence and sales:

“When it came time to announce the price of the new machine, Jobs did what he would often do in product demonstrations: reel off the features, describe them as being ‘worth thousands and thousands of dollars,’ and get the audience to imagine how expensive it really should be. Then he announced what he hoped would seem like a low price.”

Whether or not Jobs understood he was using the science of influence, he was, by tapping into the compare and contrast phenomenon. This is used all the time in sales because the price of a product can neither be high or low unless it’s compared to something else. That something is quite often another price. For example, when I first started running I went to a department store and got a pair of running shoes for about $40. They were much better than anything else I’d ever worn so I was happy until I realized I needed a better shoe after logging lots of miles. Imagine my sticker shock when I saw good running shoes at a real running store sold for $65 – $115! Fortunately for me there were some good salespeople who could clearly explain what I was getting for my money.
Sometimes the comparison point isn’t another price; rather it’s describing everything someone will get. A good description makes them realize they’re getting quite a bit and can soften the blow price might deliver. We see this all the time on infomercials when we hear, “But wait, there’s more!” That’s where the infomercial host goes on to describe all the extra ginsu knives we get for the same low price we were considering buying a single knife for.
Another example comes from my area of expertise, insurance. In your auto insurance policy there’s a coverage called “liability” which protects you in the event that you cause bodily harm to another person or damage their property in an auto accident. The most common amount of coverage people carry to protect themselves is $100,000. The bad news is that really doesn’t go very far in today’s litigious society when some cars are worth nearly that much and even a short
hospital stay can easily exceed that amount.
Having more than 25 years in the insurance industry I’d never recommend selling someone less than $300,000 in liability coverage. Of course the natural objection from a customer would be paying three times more for all of the extra coverage. But the good news is it doesn’t cost three times more! A good salesperson would use a similar approach to Steve Jobs and might say, “If you’re like most people you’re expecting to pay three times more for three times more coverage. While that’s a reasonable assumption I have some great news, it will only cost $X more, not even close to three times as much.”
The value of this approach is that it lets a customer see there’s clearly a need for the extra coverage (they hear about lawsuits in the media almost daily), and their satisfaction level will go up when they realize they’re getting triple the coverage for a fraction of what they expected to pay.
No matter whether you’re a salesperson, involved in marketing, work with advertising or just trying to convince your spouse to spend some money on something you want, look for legitimate comparisons that will make your request look like the best, most reasonable choice. You may not have as much success as Jobs did with Apple but science tells us the odds of you hearing “Yes” will go up rather dramatically.
Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.