Influence Tips for Running a Restaurant – Part 1

Lots and lots of travel the first half of the year! By the time it was over I’d visited Baltimore, MD; Austin, TX; Nashville, TN; Chicago, IL; Greensboro, NC; Cincinnati, OH; State College, PA; Cleveland, OH; Milbank, SD; Des Moines, IA; Indianapolis, IN and possibly a few other places I’ve forgotten. With all the travel comes many nights in hotels and dining out. I’ve blogged before about how hotels are bungling away opportunities to get more people to reuse towels and bed sheets to help the environment so I’ll steer clear of that this week. If you want to learn about what those hotels could do then click here. As you can imagine, with all the meals on the road I’ve had ample opportunity to observe how restaurants operate. When it comes to engaging customers to help them enjoy the dining experience a little more, and ultimately help the restaurant’s bottom line, there’s plenty of room for improvement so I thought I’d share some psychological tips for running a restaurant — ideas I’d personally implement if I owned a restaurant. I’ll state up front that most of the ideas I’ll share can be implemented without spending any additional money or very, very little in some cases. Restaurant owners, do I have your attention? Because there’s a good bit to explore and due to the need to talk about the psychology behind my suggestions, this will be multi part series with short blog posts over four weeks. Let’s start with the menu and talk very specifically about wine. All too often after grouping the wines (Merlot, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Shiraz, etc.) the listings seem haphazard, at least to the non-wine connoisseur. Unless you’ve a very upscale restaurant with wine lovers for clients I think this is a mistake. Much of the time the cheapest wines are listed first which is an even bigger mistake! In psychology there’s something known as the contrast phenomenon which tells us what people see or experience first greatly impacts how they perceive the next stimuli they experience. For example, when buying a suit no good salesperson would start the sales process by showing the client accessories. If a salesperson did so the cost of the suit would seem too expensive. Think about it; if you are shown a shirt and tie combo that costs $75-$100 to start then the suit seems even more expensive by comparison. The smart salesperson sells the suit first because then, by comparison, the shirt and tie don’t seem nearly as expensive. Even if the customer doesn’t buy the shirt and tie a least the big ticket item was sold. How does this relate to the restaurant selling wine? If the average customer starts reading the menu and sees a $20 bottle immediately then by the time they get to the $200 bottle it seems way more expensive by comparison! However, if the more expensive wines are listed first then by comparison the $75 or $50 bottle starts to seem like a bargain. Simply rearranging the order of the wine from most expensive to least the next time new menus are made up should lead to increased sales becomes more people are apt to buy the more expensive wines. They still may not get the $200 bottle but they’re much more likely to consider some of the other more expensive wines. The same thought process goes for most other menu items. After separating the entrees from the sandwiches, and salads from the starters, the restaurant owner would do well to list food items from most expensive to least. Next week we’ll look at some things the wait staff can do to increase customer satisfaction and tips. Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

A $25 Gas Card or $25 Visa Card – Which Would You Choose?

I’ve been on the road a lot lately leading workshops for people to improve their sales skills and one of the skills we’ve worked on is influence. I’m a firm believer that influence and persuasion come into play almost every time we interact with another human being because quite often we’re making requests of them or trying to convince them of something.

Aristotle defined persuasion this way – the art of getting someone to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask. I would differ from that definition only slightly – it’s not just art, there are scientific studies that tell us the most effective ways to persuade. However, I agree with Aristotle’s basic premise. After all, if someone is doing what you want before you ask, there’s no need to ask.

One aspect of influence that can make a big difference in hearing “Yes” vs. “No” is something called the contrast phenomenon. Simply put, what we compare something to can make all the difference. For example, is paying $20,000 for a car too expensive or a good deal? If you’ve only bought used cars in the past then $20,000 might seem like a lot compared to what you’ve paid in the past. On the other hand, if you’ve always bought new, high end, nice vehicles then $20,000 might seem like a bargain compared to prior purchases. The $20,000 price tag can only be called “too expensive” or “a good deal” compared to something else.

During my training sessions I like to pose this question, “Which is more valuable; a $25 gas card or a $25 Visa card?” Most workshop participants reflexively choose the gas card which is understandable because of the price of gas and fears about rising prices as summer approaches. It’s a classic “compared to what” situation.

But if you think about it for a moment you’ll quickly realize they’re both worth the same amount, $25. When I point that out I still get a few protests, “But if you spend it now you can get more gas, especially if gas prices go up like they say.” It’s true that you might get more gas today than several months down the road but no matter how high prices go you can still get $25 in gas.
Then I raise this question, “Can you spend the $25 Visa card on gas?” Of course you can and you can spend it on a lot of things other than gas. While they’re both worth the same $25 I’d argue the Visa card is actually more valuable because you have many more options on how to use it. When I point this out you can see eyebrows rise as if people are thinking, “I never looked at it that way before.”

Despite the fact that the Visa card is more versatile – dare I say valuable – if I were running an incentive contest I’d offer the gas card for the simple reason that most people think the gas card is more valuable because they’re comparing it to something scarce, something that might go up in price. And that brings me to the takeaway – whenever you try to persuade someone think of the best legitimate comparison you can, the one that will make your request shine brightest, and incorporate that into your presentation or request. Doing so will give the best opportunity for you to hear “Yes!”

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

The Psychology of the Sale

I’m a big reader but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, as strange at this sounds, as a kid I hated reading and writing. I say it’s strange because now I write all the time and I read about a book a week. For me, part of a great weekend is spending time at Barnes and Noble with Jane, Abigail and a cup of Starbucks coffee (Venti coffee of the day, cream and sugar). And if there happens to be a sale I’m the kind that will use the coupon no matter what.

In January I received an email with what I thought was a unique coupon from Barnes and Noble. What I thought was unique may not be to some of you more “professional” shoppers, but nonetheless it prompted me to want to write about the psychology of the sale this week.
There was the standard expiration date on the coupon, 1/30/11. That’s no big deal because we’re all used to seeing that. The expiration date incorporates scarcity, the principle of influence that tells us people tend to value things more when they believe they are rare or diminishing. The simple fact that the sale has an end date will prompt many people to stop by the store if for no other reason than to just look. Of course, a good percentage of people will end up using the coupon and buying when they might not have otherwise. This isn’t unique but it is part of the psychology of the sale.

What I found unique was the potential savings. Most of the time we simply see a percentage we can save when we get a coupon. It may be 10% off an entire purchase, 20% off of one item, or buy two and get one free. I could go on for quite some time with all the variations but you get the point. What was unique about this coupon was that it said I could save 10%, 15%, 20%, 30%, or possibly 50% off one item! The catch was; I wouldn’t know until I got to the register.

So now scarcity becomes a little more important because what if I miss out on saving 50%? That would really stink, especially for a book lover so I might as well go and see how much I could save.Would you have gone to the store to save 10%? Maybe or maybe not. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. How about 15%? Perhaps you go. I always give it strong consideration. At 20% you might start think it could be too good to pass up, so the odds that you visit the store are pretty good. It’s not too often I miss a 20% off sale on books. When you get the 30% coupon you can imagine loads of people make it a point to stop by the bookstore. I know I’ll go out of my way to drop by. With a 50% coupon nearly every book lover will stop by because there’s always something worthwhile still on the reading list and it’s easy to justify buying a book for half price. I am definitely in that group!But still, you don’t know how much you’ll save. You know at 30%, and certainly at 50% off, you can find that book you’ve been wanting to read — the hardback edition because you like hardback books — and you can justify the additional cost because of the extra savings you’ll get…even if you’re not sure how much you’ll save.You get to the front of the line and eagerly anticipate your savings as you hand the cashier your coupon. She scans it and bingo, you saved 50%! Life is good! But wait, you know there will be very few people who get 50% off. The truth is most people will save only 10% and as the percentage of savings goes up the odds that your coupon will be one of those big winners goes down.Are you going to tell the cashier you don’t want the book after all and return that $25 or $35 book because you only saved 10%? I bet the vast majority of people won’t. First reason I bet you won’t is consistency. This principle of influence tells us people like to be consistent. Driving to the store to buy a book then not buying it feels wrong to most people. After all, you’ve spent gas money driving there and at $3.15 a gallon people are changing driving habits so you don’t want to waste that trip. In addition to the gas, you invested time driving there and browsing in the store so you convince yourself saving 10% isn’t too bad…even if knowing that ahead of time might not have gotten you out the door.The other factor that comes into play is compare and contrast. I see this happening two ways. First was the structure of the coupon. When you start by reading the 10%, 15% and so on, by the time you get to 30% and 50% the savings seems even larger by comparison and that gets your hopes up. Compare and contrast also comes into play when you save 10%, let’s say $2.50, and you rationalize that saving another $2.50 would have been nice but not necessary, especially after your time and effort are taken into consideration.So there you have it, a little bit of the psychology of the sale. There are quite a few things going on in the mind of the potential customer and the reality is, most people are completely unaware of how those outside influences are impacting their behavior. Martin Lindstrom, author of Buy-ology, says 85% of our actions are driven by non-conscious thinking. Most people don’t really know why they do what they do but having a little more insight can hopefully help you make the right decision when it comes to a sale.Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.


Compared to What?

I read an interesting book at the beginning of the year, the Armchair Economist by Steven E. Landsburg. I picked it up because I enjoyed another book he wrote, More Sex is Safer Sex. I have to admit, there is something to be said for a title grabbing your attention, especially when it has sex in it but purports to be a book on economics. Both books explore everyday situations from an economic perspective. I’m going to guess lots of people would disagree with many of Landsburg’s conclusions and might even find some of them offensive; like certain people having more sex makes us all a little safer or how we might be better off putting computer hackers to death rather than some murderers. Agree or disagree, his books are thought provoking and much more interesting that traditional economics where they typically just chart supply and demand.

I don’t agree with all of Landsburg’s theories and that’s what prompted this post. In the Armchair Economist he wrote about a game college students could play to learn about life. He concluded writing, “They [students] would learn that your success in life is measured not by comparison with others’ accomplishments but by your private satisfaction with your own. They would learn that in the Game of Life there can be many winners, and one player’s triumphs need not diminish anybody else’s.”Oh if we only lived in such a world. But the reality is we don’t and that’s evidenced by the fact that dissatisfaction quite often comes because we compare ourselves to others. We are a world full of “haves and have nots” and that causes problems. The Apostle James addressed this nearly 2000 years ago when he wrote, “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:2-3) All this taps into what Robert Cialdini calls the contrast phenomenon. Everything is relative based on what you compare it to and how you position that comparison. The key is to understanding this is to ask, “Compared to what?”For example; you might be perfectly happy with your salary…until you find out the person sitting in the cubical next to you makes $10,000 more! On the flip side you might be unhappy with your pay…until you learn you’re the second highest paid person in your position in your department or company. Compared to what?Or maybe you’re happy with your car because it’s so much nicer than that old clunker you were driving. You were perfectly happy…until you saw your neighbor’s fully loaded brand new BMW. Compared to what?I saw a commercial for the
movie Hall Pass that illustrates this well. In one scene a group of guys are staring at a group of girls. One girl stood out because she was taller and prettier than the others. Then one of the guys tells the others, “Tall blonde, right here. She surrounds herself with less attractive women to make her look like a 10.” As the guys move their hands so they can’t see the other girls the tall blonde doesn’t look so hot after all. Of course the film makers use make up to emphasize the point but don’t think there aren’t some people out there who wouldn’t purposely hang out with other less attractive people just to stand out. Compared to what, or who?We would do well to always ask ourselves what we’re comparing to and whether or not it’s a valid comparison or the best comparison. For example, I heard on a conservative news channel the Illinois state legislature was considering a 66% increase in the state income tax. Wow, that should be cause for revolt in this economy! But here’s the perspective from the other side; the state income tax would only go up 2 percentage points. And here’s where both comparisons come from; the tax will go from 3 percent to 5 percent. That’s 2 percentage points, a 66% increase. I’m sure those opposed to the tax talked about a 66% increase whereas those in favor focused on the 2 percent change. Both are valid and both will elicit completely different responses! Compared to what?
I wrote a blog post last year called The Secret to Happiness where I shared this bit of wisdom, “Happy is the man who wants what he has.” Happiness comes not from looking at others and desiring what they have but looking and what you have and learning to appreciate it. Always remember to ask, “Compared to what?”
Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.


The Vacation Bathing Suit Revisited!

Last year I wrote a piece call Reverse Psychology and the Vacation Bathing Suit and people found it to be pretty funny. In fact, when I tell the story during training classes I always get quite a few laughs. I’ll leave it to you to read the post if you want but here’s the bottom line: I tricked my wife into buying the bathing suit I liked. I look at it this way; I’m the one who will be looking at it more than anyone else so I should have a strong vote. I got my way because I told her I didn’t like a particular swim suit knowing that would probably make her want the suit. It’s a husband-wife thing that guys will get for sure.

Well, not too long ago we (Jane and I along with Abigail and her friend) found ourselves in familiar territory once again. With just over a week to go before vacation we were at the mall when Jane announced, “I need a new swim suit for vacation.” My eyes lit up and the wheels started turning in my mind!
Immediately I said I was going to have to use double reverse psychology to get what I wanted. That was mostly to make Abigail laugh and throw Jane off the scent of the trail. But I did have a plan.
We got to the section of the store where the women’s bathing suits were and there wasn’t much of a selection, at least from a guy’s point of view. Mostly floral patterns and designs that looked like stuff your grandma wore when you were ten years old.
In psychology there’s something we call compare and contrast. Whatever you present first dramatically impacts what comes next. For example, a woman might think a certain guy is reasonably good looking…until Brad Pitt walks in the room. All of a sudden Mr. Reasonable becomes Mr. Undesirable when standing near Mr. Pitt.
Another example; you love your quaint little house with all its idiosyncrasies…until you go to the Parade of Homes and see what the Jones’ have. Now it’s a race to keep up with the Jones because your quaint home ain’t so quaint no more…by comparison.
You get the basic gist of compare and contrast and that became my angle with the help of my young accomplice. I told Abigail to go hold up some really bad suits so the ones I liked would look extra good by comparison. After seeing a few suits that might look good on her mother’s mother my choices looked pretty appealing to Jane. But the real test still remained – the dressing room mirror!
Jane took three suits in which was a good move on her part because it’s easy to compare three but get beyond that and it’s tough. Have only one and you won’t know if something might look better. Same goes for looking at just two swim suits. Think about it for a moment, most things are sold in threes: small, medium, large. If you’re at Starbucks it’s Tall, Grande or Venti. I’m a runner and running shoes always have a low end pair, medium and high priced shoes. Pay attention and you’ll be amazed.
So Jane tried on all three and I liked all of them. When she’d come out and ask my opinion of a particular suit I’d tell her I liked it. She accused me of playing mind games with her and said she didn’t know what to think. I did have one I liked most but I wouldn’t have been disappointed with any of them. It was like someone offering me a date with Miss Ohio, Miss California or Miss Texas – I might have a favorite but I’m going home happy no matter what. And so it was when we left the store.
So you might be wondering, where’s the picture? I did post a photo last time and got an email from Jane that read, “YOU MIGHT WANT TO ASK MY PERMISSION BEFORE POSTING MY PICTURE WEARING A BATHING SUIT ON TH INTERNET.” (Caps were her idea) Actually, she was good natured about it but I’m not about to press my luck. As you read this the family and I are enjoying a week’s vacation at Put in Bay and I’m enjoying Jane in her new swim suit. Life is good. ; )
My goal with this blog is to help you to learn to hear “Yes!” Become effective at using compare and contrast and you’ll be able to frame your persuasion appeal in a way that gives you the best chance of hearing that simple three letter word.
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Influencers from Around the World – The Contrast Phenomenon

Several weeks ago I introduced Sean Patrick to readers in my Influencers from Around the World article. Because there are so many people in different countries reading Influence PEOPLE I thought it would be a good learning experience to hear from other trainers around the world and how they use the principles of influence. Sean jumped at the chance to help out so you’ll be reading his thoughts on the contrast phenomenon. Sean resides in Ireland and has his own sales training company, Sean Patrick Training, and writes a blog he calls Professional Persuader. We met through Facebook when I friended Sean after seeing him on Dr. Cialdini’s friends list. Now we regularly exchange training ideas when we talk over Skype. Sean is a very interesting, entertaining guy and I think you’ll enjoy what he has to share. Connect with him on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”
The Contrast PhenomenonI’ve been asked by Brian to write about an aspect of highly persuasive behavior. The aspect I want to share is a phenomenon in persuasion known as contrast. There are many psychological props we are all exposed to and they produce an almost automatic compliance when activated. These are known as “Click-Whirr” actions and responses. A “Click” can be denoted by the action, psychological principle, being played out while the “Whirr” is the automatic response produced as a result. These actions and responses are often unseen and undetected.

The contrast phenomenon is by now a well established tool which can be applied in different situations. It is also known as Perceptual Contrast or the Psychology of Perception.

Once upon a time in my own sales career I stumbled unknowingly across this psychological lever as if by complete accident. I was presenting – for the third time – to a prospect who was sitting on the fence about buying my proposition and I really wanted this guy to buy from me. During my presentation we began discussing in detail the financial aspects to the proposal. To make a long story short, I began to delete line items from my proposal and as I was doing this I was explaining to the prospect what he stood to lose (a little scarcity) in terms of business benefits, and how the overall solution would be diminished if he lost these benefits. Not only that, but I explained how much more expensive it would be to buy these line items back at any point in the future because of the level of discount he was getting if he bought the package now. To end this story, the prospect became a customer because the original price seemed to be less expensive than first perceived. Another plus – I sold more products which amplified the benefits of my core proposition even further. In the end price stopped being an issue because it was immediately replaced by value in his mind.

When I singled out the core product the benefits seemed great on their own merits, but when the customer realized how these benefits would be greatly enhanced by just having these ancillary products he was sold!

One of the great things we notice in utilizing the contrast phenomenon is the fact that it is practically invisible to the person we are influencing. This principle can affect the people we choose to socialize and associate with. It also affects how we view our role models because we can falsely determine the attractiveness of our mate either by distorting the physical attractiveness or a misplaced perception of social status. On the business side, we can often make our products appear more or less expensive just by applying contrast intelligently. Not only that, we can put our problems and other people’s problems into a less problematic scenario by using this principle wisely.Sean

Why Black Friday is One of the Biggest Shopping Days of the Year

Is Black Friday the biggest shopping day of the year? Retailers and the media might lead you to believe so but that may not be the case, at least according to one Wall Street Journal blog. Whether it is or isn’t, Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days and by the time you read this it will be just days away.
Yes, Friday November 27th, a.k.a “Black Friday,” will be the unofficial start of the Christmas season as throngs of people make their way to malls all around the country trying to get the best deals possible on holiday gifts.

It’s not too much of a stretch to say people will act like crazed fans at a football game or soccer match. It’s not uncommon to hear of people coming to blows over items, pushing each other out of the way to get to toys, trampling one another and in one very unfortunate case a man actually died as a result of the shopping frenzy. That’s right, last year a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death as shoppers pushed their way into the store. So much for the season of giving and the spirit of joy!

What causes seemingly normal people will do some very abnormal things in hopes of getting the right gift or best deal? Why would someone stand in line for hours waiting for a store to open when they could visit that same store almost any day of the week? And why to people get up hours earlier than they normally would on their day off?

I contend the madness is because of scarcity, the psychological principle that tells us people value things more when they appear to be less available. This almost automatic response can be triggered by time constraints and competition for a limited number of items.

Black Friday taps into scarcity using the time constraint because it’s one day a year. Miss it and you might have missed the best deals of the season. But then again, you might not have missed out because sales only seem to better as Christmas approaches and retailers look to unload merchandise. Nonetheless, over the years the lure of Black Friday has increased immensely and retailers have taken advantage of the popularity of Black Friday by opening earlier and earlier each year. This year some stores will open at 12:00 AM, the moment the clock strikes midnight because Thanksgiving will be over and it will officially be Friday.

Competition isn’t limited to the playing field or court. No, when it comes to shopping competition is alive and well, fed into by retailers. Here’s how the competition part works – no longer is it good enough to just get to a store because if you are not there when the store opens they might run out of the thing you want. Limited availability is different than limited time so while you might have all day Friday to shop, certain items, those marked “While Supplies Last” or “Limited Availability,” might be gone by the time you arrive at 5 AM or 6 AM. Can’t let that happen now, can we?

It’s amazing how people respond because little Jimmy probably doesn’t remember that great toy you got him three years ago, the one you headed to the mall at 4 AM to buy. And sweet Sally probably can’t tell you which American Girl doll you got her when she was eight years old but it’s a good thing you stood in line for several hours to pay for it.

Here’s another eye opener. People will say, “But I saved $200!” Saving money is great but many of those same people would not drive across town to save $200 on a car because a $200 savings on a $20,000 car by comparison isn’t worth the extra time and effort. So
they spend four hours negotiating a car deal, could go across town and maybe spend another four hours to save $200, but they don’t. Sure, it’s an eight hour investment but many of those same people will spend more than 12 hours at the mall just to save $200. It doesn’t make much sense when you lay it out like that but then again, people are Predictably Irrational as Dan Ariely wrote about in his book by the same title. By the way, the real value of the car savings would be closer to $260 because of the interest over the life of a 5%, five-year loan.

So where am I going with all of this? I’m not going to tell you not to shop. For some people Black Friday shopping has become as much a holiday tradition as Thanksgiving, getting a Christmas tree and listening to holiday music. I’d only challenge you to consider if it’s really worth the hassle – the lost sleep, extra time as the mall, traffic, fighting for a parking space, the disappointment when someone bought the last item you wanted, etc. I could go on and on but you get the point. Just think for a moment, “Would I normally respond this way? Do I want to respond this way?” Then decide what you want to do next.

If you know you’re going to give into the madness then I’ll try to save you a little bit of time by giving you the Black Friday web site so you can get a sneak peak at some of the deals that will be out there. Before all the craziness starts I’ll end with this – I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving and a safe time no matter what you decide to do.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Are You a Twitter Snob?

I’m still a total novice, a geek you might say, when it comes to Twitter. I signed up at the advice of a friend and have mostly tried to use it as a tool to promote this blog. Facebook continues to be the place where I get more personal.

Because I just didn’t feel I was getting the hang of Twitter I bought Twitter Power by Joel Comm. For my wife and daughter, the fact that I would buy and read a book like that confirms them that I am indeed a geek, a twit, a tweet.

As I type this I’m half way through the book and have learned several good pointers. But, this post isn’t about the book; rather it’s about what I’m observing about Twitter from a social influence standpoint.

First I must confess, I’ve become a Twitter snob. Are you? You might discover you’re one too and didn’t know it. Why do I say I’m I a snob? Well, for the simple reason that I don’t “follow” everyone who follows me. Kind of rude isn’t it? In my defense there’s a psychological force at work on me. It’s called consensus, also known as social proof.

Consensus is the psychological principle whereby people look to others for clues on how to act. That gets heightened when we are not sure what to do. So I’m new to Twitter, fumbling around not knowing what to do and I look to see what others are doing. I’ve received notification that people or organizations are following me so I pop over to their Twitter home page to see what’s up. Here’s where consensus comes into play which leads me to a question for you. If you saw “Following 1,567” and “Followers 138” would you be like me and wonder, “Why are so few people following this person?”

It’s not that 138 is a small number; after all, we all have to start somewhere. The problem is that 138 is a small number compared to 1,567. We naturally compare and contrast to gauge things. It’s no different than looking inside a small restaurant, seeing a large crowd, people waiting and all the tables filled. I don’t know about you but when I see that I naturally assume it must be a good place. By contrast, when you pop your head into a large place and see more empty tables than full ones it’s easy to conclude something must be wrong with the food, service or something else. In reality there may be more people in the big restaurant but you don’t really notice that. In both cases we’re influenced by groups, or lack of, and that is heightened when comparing it to the number of tables.

At first I felt bad not following someone who followed me. My feeling bad goes to another principle of influence, reciprocity, which tells us we should respond in kind when someone does something for us. Someone smiles at us and we smile back or they do something for us and we feel obligated to return the favor. So naturally, when someone follows us on Twitter we feel somewhat obligated to follow them back.

So what’s a person to do if they find themselves in a follower deficit? Again, I’m no Twitter expert but here are a few things that come to mind:

  • Friends and Family – Use the AT&T strategy and try connecting with people you know so they’ll follow you and you can build up that number.
  • Sympathy – Start sending messages to some of those you follow to tell them you made a mistake and ask them to start following you.
  • Slow Down Cowboy – As people do start following you, don’t be so quick to follow back for a time so you can even out your “following” and “follow” numbers.
  • Last Resort – If all else fails, set up a new Twitter account and be more careful as you build up your followers. This might seem like a hassle but it will be worse to go months, maybe years and never see many followers.

Again, I don’t claim to be an authority on Twitter, that’s why I needed a book! However, I know enough about social influence to realize when people are shooting themselves in the foot. By the way, feel free to follow me on Twitter or become my friend on Facebook. Links to both are on the side of the Web site.Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Coming to Terms

I thought it would be good time to review some influence and persuasion terms with you. A few of these you’ve seen in some past blogs and others you will certainly see in future posts.

Understanding and ethically applying these psychological principles doesn’t guarantee everybody will do what you want. After all, they don’t represent some kind of magic wand. However, I can say with certainty; if you employee these more strategically and regularly you will hear more people say “Yes!” to your requests.

As you read through these you might think, “That doesn’t apply to me” or “I don’t fall for that.” That assessment may be true quite often but certainly not all the time. To get you to critically think it through I’ve added a question after each principle to give you cause to pause and think. While you may have seen right through some manipulative person’s attempts to persuade you, I’m willing to bet there are other times where you were influenced into action without even knowing it.

Reciprocity – Some might describe reciprocity as the “good old give and take principle” or “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” This principle describes the internal pressure we all feel to return the favor. At its most extreme it might be the person trying to think of a way to repay someone who saved their life. For most of us it’s as simple as picking up the tab at a restaurant because our friend got it last time. Have you ever sent someone a Christmas card because they sent you one first? If so, it’s because of reciprocity.

Liking – In business there’s a saying, “People like to do business with people they like.” Jeffrey
Gitomer, sales trainer and author, likes to say, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.” We like to be around people we like and they naturally have more influence on us than those we don’t know or don’t like. In turn, the more likable we are the more persuasive we’ll be. Have you ever bought something because a good friend recommended the product or service?

Consensus – A farmer would say we’re like cattle because we like to “mooove” with the crowd. When we see lots of people taking action, or people just like us, quite often that’s enough to get us to go along with the crowd. You’ll also hear consensus referred to as “social proof.” Be honest now; have you ever stood up during a standing ovation when truthfully, you didn’t think the performance deserved it? If so, it’s because you were moved along by the actions of others.

Authority – We don’t have enough time to weigh all the decisions that come our way so quite often we defer to people we view as authorities, or experts. In fact we do so with such regularity that studies show our brain activity actually slows down when experts tell us what to do! In other words, critical reasoning can go right out the door! Experts need not be actual people either. Have you bought something, perhaps a car or major appliance, primarily because Consumer Reports rated the vehicle high?

Consistency – We all feel an internal pressure to live up to our promises. We feel good about ourselves when our words and deeds match, when we’ve done what we said we would. Have you ever found yourself doing something, not because you really wanted to (i.e., help someone move), but because you gave your word?

Scarcity – When we sense something is becoming less available or diminishing in some way, there’s something in us that all of a sudden wants the thing even more. When was the last time you rushed out to the store because you suddenly remembered, “Sale Ends Sunday!”? If that was you it’s because you were motivated by the potential loss of an opportunity.

Compare and Contrast – Did you know two things can appear more different than they really are depending on how they are presented? Considered for a moment how that might impact your decision making. For example, you go to the store to buy something and you’re not sure what that item might cost. When you arrive you see a sign that states, “Normally $150, now only $99!” By comparison $99 appears to be a very good deal. I’ve hear people justify purchases like that because “it was too good a deal to pass up.”

So there you have it, the layman’s overview of several psychological principles than affect us all to one degree or another every day. Most of the time these principles impact us in such subtle ways that we’re not aware of it and yet they’re major factors in our decision making. As we continue our journey together I think your eyes will be opened to how politicians, marketers, salesmen and so many others try to persuade you to do what they want.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Compare and Contrast

Compare and contrast is not a principle of influence; rather we talk about it as a phenomenon. Did you know the order in which you present things impacts your perception about the things presented? For example, if someone told you the price of a piece of furniture was $999 then quickly said, “I’m sorry, that wasn’t correct. The price is actually $799.” All of a sudden $799 seems like a very good deal in comparison to the original price. If the salesperson has originally quoted $599, then came back and told you the actual price was $799, now you’re disappointed because the price seems high…by comparison.

What you present first makes all the difference. If you own a restaurant and your wine list starts with $20 bottles and works up to a $200 bottle, very quickly the $60 or $70 bottle seems expensive when your eyes saw $20 first. But, if the list starts with the $200 bottle at the top and works down to the less expensive bottles, now by comparison a $100 bottle doesn’t seem so expensive and the $60 – $70 bottles appear to be a bargain. Odds are, by listing the highest priced bottles first, the average sale on a bottle of wine will be higher than if the restaurant starts with the cheapest bottles at the top of the list. If that’s all it takes to increase sales, then isn’t it worth the change?

Comparing and contrasting numbers and features are also important when thinking about reciprocity. What you present first can have a big, big effect on how future presentations are perceived. When you make your presentation undoubtedly there will be times when you hear the dreaded, “No thanks.” That’s a part of life and I suspect some of the reason you’re reading this blog – you want to be more successful – hear “No” less and “Yes” more. Most people hear “no,” and leave the situation feeling defeated but, if you’re ready with an alternative proposal, one that looks even better by comparison, then the other person might just say “Yes.”

And that’s your overview of comparing and contrasting.