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Persuasive Coaching – An Introduction

In 2010, the company I’ve worked for the past 27 years, State Auto Insurance, implemented business coaching in the sales area. I had the opportunity to lead that change and actively participate as a sales coach. For a year and a half I was on the phone every month with nearly three dozen sales manages. After that I was assigned to work with a dozen regional vice presidents for the next four and a half years.

Because I was outside the manager’s and vice president’s chains of command I was able to bring a unique perspective to the coaching process. Fast forward to 2016 I was asked to participate in a companywide transformation as State Auto moved from a performance management organization to a coaching culture.

For the next several weeks I’ll share coaching concepts with readers and tie in the psychology of persuasion to the coaching process. Let’s start with some terminology.

What is persuasion? I think Aristotle has the best definition I’ve heard to date. He said persuasion was the art of getting someone to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask. Persuasion is not just about changing minds, it’s about changing behaviors.

What is coaching? There’s no set definition that everyone agrees on but the description I like most is this: coaching is the ongoing process of improving performance and results through continuous feedback. Improving the right skills should lead to better performance and ultimately better results. Make no mistake, you can improve skills and performance but the bottom line is improving results in business coaching. If results don’t improve then circle back to see if the right skills are being addressed.

I believe good coaching helps people improve so they can do their jobs to the best of their ability AND prepares them for future opportunities. A side benefit is that quite often improvements carry over from the professional arena to the personal life of the individual who is being coach.

This is why coaching is so exciting! If you’re being coached well and see you’re having more success in your job, if you feel like you’re also getting ready for future goals, and if you see a positive impact on your personal life then who wouldn’t want to be coached?

Where does persuasion come into the coaching process? In order to improve performance, a coach has to get the “coachee” to develop new skills, improve existing skills, and ultimately implement new behaviors. Helping people break free of old habits and changing behavior is where an understanding of persuasion becomes a huge help.

A business has to have a good product or service in order to compete in the marketplace. Persuasion won’t make a poor product or service good but it can help you sell the merits of your good product or service more easily. Likewise, when it comes to coaching a coach has to possess good coaching skills. Persuasion can help a coach convey his or her good ideas in a way that makes it easier for the person being coaching to buy in, say yes, and make the necessary changes. That’s what we’ll start focusing on beginning next week.

Selling Without Making People Feel Sold

One of the nicest compliments I’ve received came after a presentation I gave a few years ago at a large insurance event. An attendee said afterwards, “I think Brian came across as a guy who, quote unquote, was not interested in selling you and invariably he sold us.” That compliment came to mind recently as I worked with a young intern at State Auto Insurance.

I spent an hour with this high school student talking about coaching in business. I started with the example of a basketball coach because she had a clear picture of what a good basketball coach should do to prepare a team to play to the best of its ability. From there we transitioned to business coaching and eventually focused on her.

As we talked about routines I asked her if there was something she’d like to change in her typical day. She acknowledged having a hard time getting ready for school in the morning. We discussed why that was the case and what she could do to make it easier on herself. She talked about possibly laying out her clothes the night before, perhaps showering the night before and doing her hair. She also knows she could start making the choice not to hit the snooze button after 6:45 AM.

Once we’d discussed all the options I asked her what she intended to do. She said she knows a better routine would help and committed to write down a few things we had talked about then try them over the next seven days. I encouraged her that even if it doesn’t work out as well as she would like we could talk about it again and see what part of her new routine might need to change.

Then I surprised her with this, “Do you realize we just had a coaching session?” Her eyes got wide; she smiled and shook her head to indicate no she didn’t realize it. I didn’t come across as someone who intended to “coach” her and in the end I coached her because there was no resistance. My coaching was just part of the bigger conversation we were having.

If your attempts to coach, sell or persuade someone come across as anything but a conversation you might want to rethink your approach. In our Principles of Persuasion Workshop I often tell salespeople the best way to close a deal starts the moment you shake a prospective customer’s hand and look him or her in the eye because everything builds from there. Your “selling” should really be informing people into yes and that happens best when you ethically employ the principles of persuasion.

I didn’t intend to convince you of anything here but I hope I convinced you.

Influence PEOPLE – A New Video

This week is a short post to share a new video I recently put online. The clips are from a keynote presentation I gave this past May in Cleveland, Ohio. The event was the annual I-Day Convention sponsored by the Insurance Board of Northern Ohio (IBNO). I hope you enjoy it.

If you’re getting this post via email click here to watch the video on YouTube. 

Is your organization interested in learning how the science of influence can help move your initiatives ahead? I can help! Contact me about keynotes, training, coaching or consulting.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer

influencePEOPLE 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

The Power of Concessions

In February I spoke to several dozen business coaches from the Central Ohio Chapter of the International Coach Federation. During my hour with the group at The Ohio State University I shared ways they could use specific  principles of influence to help their clients obtain better results.

Below is a short video clip where I talked about the power of concessions, sharing the results from a little experiment Dr. Robert Cialdini and his students conducted at Arizona State University. I think you’ll find it very interesting how they tripled the response rate to a certain request by prefacing their request with something beforehand.

If you’ve viewing this by email click here for the video.

Is your organization looking for a keynote speaker, training or consulting on the application of ethical influence and persuasion in the workplace? If you are just reach out to me by email at BFA654@gmail.com. 

Brian, CMCT 
influencepeople 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Ethical Influence for Business Coaches

A few months ago I had the privilege of addressing several dozen business coaches from the Central Ohio Chapter of the International Coach Federation at The Ohio State University. My hour-long presentation focused on how they could use certain principles of influence to help their clients obtain better business results.

I opened the presentation sharing about PEOPLE – those Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. I also spent time on three of Dr. Cialdini’s six principles of influence  –  reciprocity, authority and consistency  –  defining each principle then citing scientific research to help attendees understand just how powerful the principles can be in the communication process. I also shared real world application for each principle to help those in attendance envision how they might use each in their daily attempts to ethically persuade others.
Below is the video clip where I introduced my PEOPLE concept – those Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical.  

If you’re viewing this by email click here to watch the video on YouTube.



In the coming months I’ll share other clips from the presentation to help you better understand how the power of persuasion can help you hear “Yes” more often.


Is your organization looking for a keynote speaker or training on ethical influence and persuasion? If so, reach out to me by email at BFA654@gmail.com. 

Brian, CMCT 
influencepeople 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.