Donald Trump’s mASS appeal

Donald Trump has struck a nerve with the Republican Party, the media, and many Americans. You might say he has mASS appeal. He’s brash, offensive and unapologetic. The Republican Party knows he holds the key to their possible victory or defeat in the 2016 election should he choose to run as a third party candidate. The media cannot try any harder to discredit him and his poll numbers only rise. Many Americans find him offensive but because he resonates with so many, he has to be take seriously as seen by his #1 standing going into and after the first primary debate.

I must confess, when Trump announced his candidacy and made the remarks he did about illegal Mexican immigrants being rapists and murders, I was shocked. I posted on Facebook that Fox News and anyone else who took him seriously after those comments would lose all credibility. I was wrong.

Love him or hate him there’s no denying he’s having an impact on the Republican primary and might do the same in the general election if he remains a strong presence but doesn’t win over the establishment as the nominee.

So why is “The Donald” commanding so much attention? I have a theory. In recent years there have been many television shows which have captivated American audiences such as Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Dexter, and Mad Men to name just a few. If you’ve seen these shows then you know you find yourself rooting for the bad guy.

In Breaking Bad, the lead character is Walter White, an unassuming high school chemistry teacher who begins to churn out crystal meth after he gets lung cancer. He does so to provide for his family and despite his downward spiral you root for him.

Jax Teller is the lead in Sons of Anarchy. He wants to follow his late father’s ideas to get his motorcycle gang out of drugs and guns. As he manipulates and kills, you still find yourself pulling for him because his ultimate desire is good.

Dexter is the lead in the show by the same name. He’s a serial killer who has learned to confine his psychopathic nature to only killing bad people, the kind that most people feel deep in their heart deserve the death penalty for their heinous crimes. You not only pull for Dexter you actually come to like him.

Much less psychopathic and not a killer, Don Draper is the lead in Mad Men. The ad man is a womanizer and heavy drinker with a past he tries to hide because it could land him in jail. You see a good side of Don shine every now and then and consequently you pull for him despite his character flaws.

In each show we don’t root for the bad guys because we agree with their antics but something about each stands out – we know who they are. We know they’re bad but each really does want something better for himself, his family and friends. By contrast, so many “good” people they come in contact with aren’t actually good and viewers find themselves repelled by their false veneers. In real life think about Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong and many others who appeared to be good people until the truth was found out. It’s a classic case of the contrast phenomenon.

When it comes to politicians very few people truly believe any of them have our (Americans) best interest at heart. We’ve seen enough scandal (infidelity, drugs, bribes, etc.) that we see them all as having the false veneer covering a desire for power. We wonder when the next politician will fall because it’s only a matter of time.

With Donald what you see is what you get. When asked how he can disavow politicians who take large contributions after he’s made those political contributions, he’s candid when he says (my paraphrase) – “I know how the system works and paying money got me favors I would need down the road. But, I have so much money I can’t be bought.” That resonates with people because it’s truthful.

When the media attacks him and he corrects them for taking something out of context people love that because the media so often appears to look for ways to build up people then tear them down.

When Trump said McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured you’d have thought that would be the end. But it wasn’t and his numbers surged despite the media going after it from every angle.

In the end Donald Trump simply continues to be Donald Trump. Some people will love him and some will hate him but at least you know what you’re getting and I believe that’s his mASS appeal.

The Psychology of the Sales Cycle – Negotiations

If you’re like the vast majority of people, when you make a purchase you want to believe you got a good, or great, deal. What’s your definition of a good deal? The deal is really the value you get from the transaction and when I talk about value I use the following equation:

V = WIG/P which translates Value equals What I Get divided by Price.

There are two simple ways to look at it. If I can get more of something for the same price, that’s a better value. If I can get the same amount but pay less, again, that’s a better value.

When it comes to value, getting a good deal, everyone would like to get more for less. We might not get as much as we want, or pay as little as we’d like, but believing the old adage – everything is negotiable – we’ll try our best to get more and/or pay less. And so will your prospects.

Negotiating isn’t simply about lowering your price or giving away more stuff to make someone happy and close the sale. It’s about knowing when to deviate from traditional pricing or when to make concessions that will make both parties better off in the long run. It’s fair to say all the principles of influence and the contrast phenomenon might come into play as you negotiate but a few will stand out a little more.

Liking remains very important because the more the prospect likes you and really wants to do business with you, the better your chance of getting to yes as you go through negotiation points. Continue to remain friendly, bond over things you have in common and offer compliments when warranted because those simple acts will grease the wheel. One study I regularly share in my influence workshops clearly shows people put in a negotiation scenario had a much better chance of avoiding a deadlock if they take the time to get to know each other on a personal level.

The principle of reciprocity describes the reality that when you give, quite often people feel they should give in return. This is very important in negotiations because your act of conceding on some point might cause the other person to make a concession too and you’re now closer to agreement. A concession might be sweetening the deal with something that may not mean much to you but might mean a lot to the prospect. Again, your act of giving is met with something in return. That’s the basis for bartering. The key here is to be the first to take the step to the middle.

Consistency allows you to fall back on what the prospect said earlier in the sales process. If they wanted certain features and those features have a price tag then the reason for the price being what it is might be due to their choices. Reminding them of what they said they wanted is powerful because most people won’t come back with, “I know what I said but I’ve changed my mind.”

Scarcity is closely aligned with consistency because you can always offer to remove certain features to get the price more in line with customers’ expectations or budget. If you recall in the post I wrote on qualifying the prospect, I shared a conversation between an insurance agent and prospective customer. The agent shared a little about business income coverage and the prospect asked to have the price included in the insurance quote. The new coverage will cause the premium to be higher but could be modified in some way or removed as a concession if the prospect feels the price is too high. With a new understanding about the coverage and their exposure, prospects might just find a way to keep it because no one wants to think about an exposure they clearly know is not covered.

Contrast is used to help the prospect see what is being offered is in fact a good deal. If they believe your price is too high you need to figure out what their\ comparison point is. Whatever they have currently might not be a valid comparison point because the features may have changed. If that’s the case you need to move away from the old price and get them to see the value in what you’re offering.

For example, how does being $1,000 higher than a competitor breakdown over the life of a product with a five-year lifespan? Over five years, there are 260 weeks so your product will cost the prospect less than $4 a week. Can you show the prospect how your product is worth much more than the extra $4 a week you’re asking them to pay?

Bottom line – Don’t be offended that the prospect wants more for less. We’d all love to have a Cadillac but it’s not reasonable to think we can get it for the price of a Volkswagen, is it? And so it is quite often in your negotiations during a sale. You need to work with the prospect to come up with a solution that makes them feel their needs were met and they got a good deal.

Next time we’ll look at the part of the sales cycle I’ve seen salespeople struggle with the most – closing the sale, i.e., asking for the business. This doesn’t have to be difficult if you’ve set the expectations early on. Using the principles of influence effectively can make closing a natural part of the sales conversation.

Beware the Lies, Damned Lies and Stats!

Facts, figures and statistics – we’re
bombarded with them. We just came though another election and most of us were
inundated with political ads. It’s amazing how two candidates can talk about
the same facts in such different ways. Democrats touted lower unemployment and
a rising stock market. Republicans debated the legitimacy of both claims when
it came to helping people and the economy. Had the tables been turned and Republicans
been in power they’d have bragged about the declining unemployment rate and all
time highs in the stock market. And it’s very likely the Democrats would have debated those same facts.
Another example; sometimes we hear that average
household income is up. On the surface that’s good. However, if you dig a
little deeper and realize the increase only went to a very few people at the
top and that most people’s income was stagnant or lower, would it still be such
a good thing? Not if you’re in the mass of people who are not benefitting.
As noted earlier, the stock market is at an
all-time high. Again, a good thing on the surface but if the growth in revenue
and profits isn’t leading to job creation then are we (or at least the
majority) really better off?
I’ll never forget seeing the debate over a
potential increase in the state tax for Illinois. One group said it was a 66%
increase and another group said it was a 2% increase. And both were right. The
state tax was 3% and the proposed increase to 5% was raising it two percentage
points but people would pay 66% more in state income tax compared to what
they’d pay without the increase.
I hope you can see statistics can be used to
portray whatever someone wants you to believe. I won’t say it’s unethical
because in each instance facts are being shared but the vantage point can make
all the difference. Two homes could look out over the same land but can have
very different views depending on where each home sits. And so it is with stats.
Mark Twain once said there were lies, damned lies and statistics. His point was simply
this; sometimes facts and figures can be used to justify the position of the
person communicating. As noted earlier, all you need to do is listen to
politicians from opposite sides of the aisle to realize this. They may talk
about the very same issue and you’d think they were from different planets.
You’ll get some very diverse viewpoints if you scan CNN, MSNBC and Fox.
What does this mean for you? Simple; don’t
take everyone or everything at face value. Ask questions, dig a little deeper
into the claims being made, occasionally play devil’s advocate. In doing so
you’ll give yourself a fuller picture and better opportunity to make the best
decision possible.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer


Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Is Rock ‘n Roll Dead or Just More Great Artists?

A friend shared a Rolling Stones article on Facebook not long ago by the former lead
singer of KISS, Gene Simmons. The article was titled, Rock is Finally Dead. It was
. In one section Simmons laments, “Where’s the next Bob Dylan?
Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators?”
He goes on to blame file sharing and the attitude of the current generation of
young people because they feel they should not have to pay for music.
I posted the following comment to my friend
who was a rock musician in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. “I’m not too into
music, nothing like you were back in the day, so here’s my question – Could it
be that there are more talented musicians who are exposed to the world thanks
to social media? More supply with stagnant demand would lead to lower prices. I
ask because I’ve come across some really talented people who’ve often made me
wonder why they didn’t make it as big as others who don’t seem to possess any
more talent. Thoughts?”
His reply, “Definitely something to how
fragmented the market is now that the tools to record and promote are in the
hands of the masses. There isn’t the same shared experience as when the
industry controlled things. But that being said, where is the new AC/DC? Who is
this generation’s Led Zeppelin? These acts will never be replaced, but who is
picking up where they left off? Where are the huge acts? It’s never been about
talent as much as what rock-n-roll meant, the experience, the songs. LONG LIVE
The contrast phenomenon alerts us to the
reality that we always make comparisons to other things. Was Led Zeppelin a
great band? Many would say so in comparison to other bands past and present. However,
some might say the Beatles or U2 are more iconic compared to Led Zeppelin. What
music and musicians we like has to do with our musical taste and comparison
I’m at the tail end of the Baby Boomer
generation. We love rock ‘n roll because we grew up on it as did some of our
parents. But when Bill Haley and The Comets introduced rock ‘n
roll to the world, many folks of that era thought it was trash. They preferred
the soothing sounds of Frank Sinatra, the Glen Miller Band and many other musicians
from the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s.
It’s quite natural for us to make comparisons.
It’s also normal for each generation to believe theirs (music, movies, books,
art, athletes, etc.) was the best and that the current crop has lost their way.
As I told my friend, the more musicians and
sounds I’m exposed to the more I wonder why some acts make it big and some
don’t. It’s not always about talent because many would say Gene Simmons and
KISS weren’t talented musicians, just great showmen.
Golfers play 72 holes in a PGA tournament and
one or two strokes, after 280 to 290 shots, is typically the difference between
winning and losing. Win a handful of tournaments and a player is deemed a star
even though he’s barely better (as measured by stroke average) than most other
golf professionals.
Unlike having to qualify for tournaments, when
it comes to certain artistic talents – like music – social media has knocked
down many barriers to entry. More supply means people pay less, even if some
new acts are better than the old ones, because we have more to choose from and
it’s easier to find what suits us best. We see the same phenomenon with
self-publishing books. With more books on the market to choose from there will
be fewer and fewer books that excite the masses than perhaps 50 or 100 years
ago when there was less to choose from. That might lead to fewer classics in
the future. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the writers are any less
talented. Some might contend they’re more talented because it takes even more
to stand out now.
So what does all of this have to do with
persuasion? Each of us competes in the marketplace. For some it’s finding a
mate, for some it’s on the athletic field, others it’s business. Whatever we
do, wherever we do it, the challenge is to rise above the rest.
  • Why will someone want to hire you over the
    other bright young college grads?
  • Why should someone buy your music over the
    other artists?
  • What makes you stand out in your chosen field?


Until you can answer these questions you’ll be
perceived just like all the others because people will be making comparisons.
Your goal has to be to highlight your uniqueness. It’s a form of scarcity. What do you bring to
the table, or what combination of things do you bring to the table, that will
make someone realize they can’t get what you offer anywhere else. Once you
convey that to the right people you’ll stand out. You may not be the next
AC/DC, Rolling Stones or Beach Boys, but you’ll probably find your place and
enjoy your lifestyle all the same.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer


Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

The Scoop on Ice Cream and Persuasion

I’ve traveled a lot this year and have a lot
more trips coming up. If my travel schedule plays out I’ll have been on the
road half of the weeks this year and spent at least 50 nights in hotels. Think
about that– 10 weeks away from my family! Some days have entailed hitting the
road by 4 a.m. to catch early morning flights and arriving home close to
midnight. If you travel you know if can be tiring!

Last month, as I waited to catch an evening
flight home I got a text from my daughter, Abigail, asking if I wanted to get
some ice cream at Graeter’s when I landed because she wanted to tell me about
her first days of college. Despite being tired I agreed because I don’t view
such times as a sacrifice; rather it was an investment in her and our
As we waited in line I tried to decide what
flavor I was in the mood for and whether I’d go with a single scoop or a double.
If you’ve been to Graeter’s you know the ice cream is great but you pay a
premium for it!

As I looked at the menu I saw a single scoop
cone was $2.95 and a double was $4.25. I thought, “I just bought a half gallon
of really good Homemade ice cream for just over $5,” so I was reluctant to get
two scoops at that price. The other thought that raced through my head was,
“That’s almost twice as much.” When you do the math, you know it’s not twice as
much, but my mind quickly registered the $2.95 and $4.25 as $2 vs. $4 because
those are the numbers each price started with.

Something else that came into play as I
decided what to do was the fact that I was still a little full from dinner a
few hours ago. I decided to skip the cone to save a few calories so I asked for
a single scoop in a cup. The server said, “Would you like a second scoop for
just 50 cents more?” I recall thinking, “For 50 cents why not, that’s a good deal?”
because in my mind the option of going from one to two scoops was twice as much
ice cream but not at double the price.
As it turns out, the single scoop in a cup was
$3.75 and two scoops were $4.25…the same prince as the two scoops in a cone
that I’d just decided to pass on! It was only a 50-cent difference but in the
end I got two scoops…no cone…and paid the same amount I’d mentally rejected
moments before!
I read lots of books on the subject of
persuasion, pricing, etc., and yet I ended up in the very place I was initially
trying to avoid. Before you chuckle, I can assure you I could probably spot
similar inconsistencies in some of your decision-making.
So what happened to me? My focus shifted from
“two scoops for nearly double the price” to “a second scoop for just 50 cents
more” when in the end, the price was $4.25 in each case!
When we make decisions we rarely do so in a
vacuum. To assess a “deal,” we’re always making comparisons to other things. My
first thought was two scoops for about the same price as a box of ice cream is
not a good deal. However, knowing the first scoop was pretty expensive, getting
a second scoop for just 50 cents more seemed like a great deal. My mistake was
that I didn’t pay close attention to the price of a single scoop in a cone vs.
the price of one scoop in a cup. I mistakenly assumed getting ice cream in a
cup would be less expensive, certainly not more, because I couldn’t eat the cup.
So here’s the “scoop” next time you’re faced
with a similar decision.
  1. Try to remove your emotions from the decision.
    Many behavioral economics studies show people are emotional creatures that
    occasionally make rational decisions (i.e., We have five TVs but I want a 66-inch
    flat screen!).
  2. Recognize you’re always making comparisons to
    other things. Make sure you’re comparing to the right thing and don’t just look
    for something that will confirm what you emotionally want (i.e., I know we
    don’t need another television but it’s 50% off!).
  3. Take a moment to consider the value of the
    thing you’re considering regardless of what you’re comparing to. Value is
    subjective but oftentimes we ascribe too much value to things we believe will
    make us happier or more fulfilled (i.e., What will the 66-inch screen, even if
    on sale, really add to your life?).

Follow these simple steps and you’ll probably
make better decisions; the kinds you look back on with pride, not regret.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.


The Ticket is How Much?

I’m sure to spice up your home you have
pictures scattered throughout different rooms. We usually display pictures that
speak to us or make us feel good in some way. Those who are into art are very
aware that the frame a picture sits in can make a huge difference. The right
frame can really help a picture come to life.
Framing doesn’t just apply to your favorite
pictures. In psychology, framing has to do with the context that surrounds an
issue or idea. In the same way the right frame can make a picture stand out,
proper framing of your ideas can make them stand out and that’s important when
you’re trying to persuade others.
Not only is framing important, so is reframing.
You see, sometimes we need to reframe issues that are presented to us in order
to have the best opportunity to make the right decision. Allow me to explain.
Not long ago I went to an event with my boss and
good friend John. As we chatted he told me that he was invited to a play his
niece was going to appear in. The relative who invited him said tickets were
only $12 and could be purchased online. John went online to purchase his ticket
and was confronted with additional fees that increased the ticket price from
$12 to $21. He couldn’t get beyond the fact that just because he was buying it
online the cost was 75% more than if he went to the theater and bought the
ticket in person. Of course there would be some risk buying the ticket at the
theater because the show could be sold out and he would have wasted time and
gas money. Nonetheless, he was adamant that he wouldn’t pay an extra $9 (75%)
for the ticket.
As we discussed this I finally asked him, “If
you were told the ticket was $21 would you have bought it?” He said he would
because he wanted to see his niece but was just having a hard time with how
much the extra fees came to. I suggested he just reframe the whole scenario and
look at the price as $21, not $12 plus an additional $9.
It’s natural for us to make comparisons like
John was doing because seldom do we operate in a vacuum. It’s also natural to
rail against the comparison when it’s so large. As I’ve shared before – There’s
nothing high or low but comparing makes it so.
Think about this – If I offered you $800,000
would you be willing to accept it? I bet you would and I bet you’d be incredibly
happy. However, if I give you $2.1 million and you only got to keep $800,000
because of taxes, you might not feel the same as getting $800,000 with no
strings attached.
In both cases, at the end of the day you’d
have $800,000 but in one scenario you’ll have a hard time enjoying your new
wealth to the same degree because you’re thinking, “But it was originally $2.1
We face these situations all the time. I
travel a lot and spend a good bit of time in airports. Most airlines now charge
$25 per bag each way, which means most people pay an extra $50 on top of the
ticket price. People detest that because it raises to the surface the pain of
paying. Airlines might be wise to either incorporate a smaller fee for all
passengers or allow you to pay for bags at the time you purchase your ticket. That
way you don’t feel the pain of paying when you get to the ticket counter and
the extra fee is an afterthought.
On the flip side, if you want people to feel
the pain of paying in order to bring about change then you might want to
separate the fees so they can clearly see them. An example would be gasoline
taxes. Did you know in 2012 the average fuel tax for Americans was 49.5 cents per gallon, for state
and national taxes? Sometimes there’s a sign at the pump mentioning the
additional taxes but people really just pay attention to the price per gallon. If
gas were $3.19 per gallon in your area it would be under $2.70 per gallon
without the tax. If you really want to highlight the issue of taxation, tell
them they’re paying  $2.70 a gallon, but
let them see the meter add on 49.5 cents for every gallon; this just might just
catch their attention. After all, most stores advertise pre-tax prices.
How you frame your presentation depends on
what you want to accomplish. By the same token you have the power to reframe
anything and sometimes doing so will allow you to feel better about the
situation you find yourself in. For John it would be acknowledging the fact he
would gladly pay $21 or more to see his niece perform instead of focusing on
the $9 fee that increased his ticket price by 75%. In the end he’ll enjoy the
play a little more and his niece will be happy that her uncle came to see her
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Cialdini “Influence”
 Would you like to learn more about
influence from the experts? Check out the Cialdini “Influence” Series featuring Cialdini
Method Certified Trainers from around the world.

Does a Rising Tide Lift All Boats?

People are fond of analogies that help them
visualize concepts that are sometimes difficult to grasp. Steve Jobs was use one when he said, “Computers are like a bicycle for our minds.” Another common analogy is people describing the human brain as a computer.
One analogy that’s kicked around quite a bit
in politics is this, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” That’s easy to picture.
After all, when the tide rolls in all boats sit higher relative to the docks they’re
tied to or some other stationary object.
Politicians like to use the phrase when it
comes to the economy. If more tax cuts are given to the wealthiest people
they’ll spend their extra money creating jobs or buying more stuff. Either way,
more goods are sold which means more people are employed to produce and sell
those goods. Everyone is better off; all boats have been lifted.
But there’s a problem. The analogies we use
are just that – analogies. They’re merely comparisons to help us understand but
they’re not the actual thing. In one sense they’re like a map. A map can be a
helpful tool but it’s still a map and not the actual terrain. It can never
fully represent the real thing and the more diverse the terrain is, the less a
map can fully represent it.
People who use the rising tide analogy want us
to believe everyone is better off when the wealthiest among us do better. There’s
some truth to that however, it ignores a basic tenant of behavioral economics –
how we make comparisons and decisions.
You see, most people don’t simply look a their
situation relative to how they were at some point in the past. Rather, we have
a habit of comparing ourselves to others in the moment.
We see this publicly played out in sports all
the time. Let’s say an athlete has a great year and gets a huge raise because
he’s considered among the best in his sport. He’s happy! But the moment he
learns someone else just got more money, discontentment sets in. No longer does
he care that he’s making significantly more than he used to. Instead he feels
slighted compared to the other athlete he just learned about.
The same can be said of the average American.
While many may be a little better off than they were five or ten years ago based
solely on their income they don’t necessarily see it that way. That’s probably
because they’re not simply comparing their take home pay to prior paychecks. In fact, if inflation, medical bills or other
things that occur in life have eaten away at their take home pay, people tend
to feel they’re working harder than ever but have little or nothing to show for
Another comparison point comes when people
hear about senior executive compensation at large corporations. For example,
did you know back in 2005 the average CEO made 525 times more than the typical
American worker made? That pay differential took a significant dip due to the
recession but it’s trending back up and was 369 times more in 2012.
Can you see why someone might be disgruntled?
Most people have an innate sense of fairness, and of right and wrong, and when
that gets violated many people would rather get nothing just to see the other
person get nothing too. It doesn’t make economic sense because economically a
little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing.
Several years ago I conducted survey with my
blog readers. One question read: You’re playing a game and your partner was given $100 to share with you any way they see fit.
The two of you get to keep the $100 but only if you think you’ve been treated
fairly. What’s the least amount you would want in order to not reject the deal?
Just over two thirds of the respondents said
sharing $50 of the $100 would be fair. The average for all responses was
$41.88. Even though they’d have been better off even just getting a dollar, the
vast majority would reject the deal if the split wasn’t about equal.
It doesn’t make sense economically because if
you were given $30, $20, even $1 that’s better than nothing, and more than you
started with. But that’s not how most people typical think and behave. When people don’t feel
they’re being treated fairly they take action…even if those same actions might
hurt themselves in the end.
The tide may be rising but all the people in
the little boats stare at the luxury liners and perceive those ships are getting the
bigger lift and they don’t like it.
My fear is this; if our government in
conjunction with big business doesn’t come up with ways to make the average workers
feel like they’re being compensated in a more equitable way, the consequences
could be worse for all of us in the long run. Whether or not you agree with the
“We are the 99%” and March on Wall Street movements, they reflect what I’m
talking about here. People are unhappy and they’re starting to take action.
A take away for those of you who aspire to be
more effective persuaders would be this – whenever you use analogies to make a
point, make sure the analogies are appropriate for your audience or your best laid
plans could backfire on you.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer


Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

High or Low? Comparing Makes it So!

William Shakespeare penned this famous line in Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Two people can experience the very same thing and one person views it as good while another person sees it as bad. This happens because when we make judgments about good and bad we’re making them in relation to something else.

If you’re in sales and I asked what objection do you face the most when trying to make a sale, I have no doubt the vast majority of people reading this would say, “Price!” When someone says your price is too high it’s because they’re comparing it to something else.

Is $20,000 a lot to pay for a car? Some of you reading this don’t think so because you may drive a high-end car like a Mercedes or BMW, and your ride costs much more than that. Others might view $20,000 as expensive because you’re not into cars and therefore pay a good bit less than that for your vehicle of choice. In both cases, you’re comparing what you’ve paid in the past to $20,000.

As a salesperson here’s what I want you to remember:

“There’s nothing high or low but comparing makes it so.”

The next time you face the price objection, recognize this simple fact and then look for ways to ethically change the prospective customer’s point of comparison.

In the end everyone wants to feel like they got a good deal or great value. In our sales training we define value as follows:

V = WIG / P

Value (V) equals what I get (WIG), divided by price (P). If I can get more for the same price I feel like I got a better deal. Or, if I can get the same thing but pay less, I still believe I got a better deal.

This is where you’ll see advertisers tout “25% more” or “2 for 1.” In both cases you get more (WIG) for the same price (P). On the flip side we see sales all the time. During a sale we get the same item (WIG) for less money (P).

I’ve often shared the following example in training.

A company in Southern California sold spas and hot tubs. Prices ranged from $6,000 on the low end to $15,000 on the upper end. As you might imagine, most salespeople started low and tried to upsell customers. The problem with that approach is once you start at $6,000 the $15,000 spa seems very, very expensive…by comparison.

During a consultation with Robert Cialdini it was mentioned that people who bought the $15,000 spa used it more than some rooms in their homes. The logical question was – how much would it cost to add an additional room to a home in Southern California? Most people said anywhere from $60,000 – $80,000. Ah ha! A potential new comparison point!

Dr. Cialdini advised the spa client to start the sales process with the $15,000 spa and weave the room addition question into the sales conversation. It might go something like this:

Salesperson – “Customers who bought the XP5000 spa love it. In fact, many say they use it as much or more than any room in their house and quite often use it to entertain. If you were to add a room to your home how much would that cost?”

Customer – “I don’t know, maybe $60,000 or $70,000.”

Salesperson – “Well I have good news. You don’t need to spend $60,000 or $70,000 to get that enjoyment because the XP5000 is only $15,000.”

And how well did this approach work? Sales for the high-end spa rose 520% in the three months following the change in sales approach. In the three months before the change, the company only sold five high-end spas. In the three months following the change they sold 26 spas!

No new advertising, no television commercials, and no price discounts were needed. All of those approaches would cost a good bit of money. Instead they simply tweaked their sales conversation to include a legitimate new point of comparison.

So for my salespeople out there, here’s your take away when dealing with the price objection – “There’s nothing high or low but comparing makes it so.” Look for legitimate comparison points then weave them into your sales conversation. If you have a good product that’s worth the asking price you should see sales take a nice jump up as you reframe how customers view your price.

How Are You Doing? It’s Relative.


Not too long ago I got a medical bill and was shocked by how large it was. As I thought about paying it I had the feeling many of you might have had in the past – it seems like I can never get ahead.
Sleeping on it didn’t help because it was top of mind when I went for my run early the next morning. Running is good for me because it allows me to clear my thoughts and gain perspective.  As I considered the medical bill the Oklahoma tornado tragedy came to mind. All of a sudden my “problem” paled in comparison to those who lost loved ones and the thousands who lost homes and possessions.
Please don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think of the Oklahoma tragedy to make myself feel better but the reality is this; no matter how good or bad we have it, someone else has it better or worse. How we’re doing depends almost entirely on what and who we compare ourselves to.
During the Principles of Persuasion workshop I talk about something called the contrast phenomenon which tells us how we experience something is directly related to what we compare it to. For example, saving $5 on a $10 item makes feel pretty good but saving $5 on a $100 item doesn’t have nearly the same effect. It’s the same $5 but how we view it is relative to something else.
Much of life is spent making comparisons:
  • How much we make
  • The house we live in
  • The car we drive

This can lead to a lot of problems and a good amount of discontent because there’s always someone who makes more, has a nicer home or car, a better looking spouse, smarter kids, etc.

My faith teaches that comparing ourselves to one another is foolish because we’re comparing to the wrong thing. If God is the standard then on one hand we’d all fall short no matter how “good” we are. Fortunately God doesn’t ask us to measure ourselves by His perfection but rather by His love. When it comes to that, He is clear – we can’t earn it and there’s nothing we’ll ever do that will make Him love us more or less.
Personally I find this freeing. No matter how productive I am today, or unproductive, no matter how well or poorly I do, nothing changes His standard. For me it means pursing whatever I do not for the accolades, money or some other external reason but rather for the enjoyment it brings me and the opportunity to help others.
So here’s my advice the next time you’re feeling blue; take a moment to explore why and ask yourself if perhaps the state you’re in has to do with comparing who you are or where you are in life to some arbitrary target. If that’s what you’re doing, then you can change the frame of reference just like I did during my morning run. The bill remains the same but I’m in a much better frame of mind and that’s priceless.
Brian, CMCT®
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

When a Sale isn’t a Sale


Do you enjoy getting a good deal? I know I do
and so do most consumers. The reality is, very seldom do we know if we’re
getting a good deal because “the deal” is always relative. For example, a $300
smart phone is a good deal when you realize the normal price is $600. In other
words, when you think you’re saving money you believe you’re getting a good
deal and that’s extra enticement when it comes to the purchasing decision.
How would you feel if you were told you were
saving 50% off of the original $300 price of luggage only to find out you saved
nothing? I know I’d be upset because it’s very likely I would have factored in
the “sale” price into my buying decision, consciously or unconsciously.
In a class action lawsuit, a California court recently said
consumers have a right to sue retailers if the price advertised is fake. Kohl’s,
the retailer involved in the suit, says its advertised price was truly a sale
and besides that, “the lawsuit was originally dismissed because a judge ruled
that the customer couldn’t sue because he hadn’t lost money by buying
merchandise that wasn’t as much of a bargain as he thought it was.”
So imagine you have the luggage and it works
as well as you expected, would you still be upset that the “sale” price was
just the price that you’d get anytime you visited the store? Would you feel
manipulated to some degree?
It’s one thing to buy something and then
realize you could have purchased it elsewhere for less – shame on you for not
doing your homework. However, should you have to do your homework to know
whether or not the store is telling you the truth about their “sale”?
In an article titled “Permission Marketing,” in
Fast Company, William C. Taylor
wrote, “This year, the average consumer will see or hear one million marketing
messages – that’s almost 3,000 per day.” Wow! Now here’s a scary thought – that
quote is 15 years old! How much more do you think you’re exposed to with the
explosion of the internet and social media? No one can possibly process it all
and that’s why so much of our decision-making happens at the subconscious
level. In fact, Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology,
contends that 85% of what we do on a daily basis comes from unconscious
One way we wade through the myriad of choices
comes from decision triggers, or reliable bits of information, that guide us
into what we believe are good choices. Seeing “sale” is one such trigger.
Studies show that simply by advertising a “sale” or using some other feature
like a yellow “Everyday Low Price” sticker can sometimes double sales even if the
price hasn’t changed at all.
When I teach people about influence I stress
ethics because I want students to feel good about how they apply their new
knowledge. As people work in small groups to come up with some criteria about
what constitutes an ethical request every group always mentions honesty and
truthfulness. To a person they feel if someone is going to make an ethical
attempt to persuade another individual they have to be telling the truth.
If you consider what I just shared about
decision triggers and how retail sales increase based on using the word “sale,”
do you think it’s deceptive of a store to advertise sale prices when in fact
they’re not any different that the regular prices you can get every day at the
store? In other words, if you shopped at Kohl’s every week and saw the 50% off
luggage, wouldn’t you come to realize the price is just $150 because it was
never sold for $300?
Like it or not, when we see a sale being
advertised it gets us into stores far more than if there was no sale. Once
we’re in the store we buy more so wouldn’t it be nice to know we’re truly
getting the good deal that’s advertised?
Brian, CMCT®
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.