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Just Stop, Please!

I’m willing to bet you’ve experienced the following: Someone reaches out to connect on LinkedIn, you accept and immediately you’re hit with a sales pitch.

  • Want to impact more people? I’ve helped thousands of people on LinkedIn…
  • Hey, your business is interesting and I can help you reach more people by…
  • You really should consider building a video training platform.

Maybe you’ve experienced a subtler approach. Your new connection will ask you to tell them more about your business or yourself. Excuse me, if you read my LinkedIn profile or bothered to visit my website you’d know all about me and exactly what I do.

This approach is a lazy way to get you into a drawn out conversation by asking you a constant stream of questions. The questions are not to understand you or your business but rather so the person can pitch his or her products or services.

If you’re someone who does this I have some advice as someone who’s worked with salespeople for more than two decades: Just stop, please!

We know LinkedIn is designed for business. We expect to make connections and build networks of people we can help and that can help us. However, trying to make a sale as soon as you connect is as tactless as meeting someone for the first time then asking them to marry you. Maybe you’re not that ambitious so you just shoot for getting them in bed with you. Sorry for being so crass but that’s how yucky it feels when you attempt to “sell” someone as soon as you meet them.

The law of large numbers predicts you’ll land a few (dates or clients) but it’s not likely it will be a long-term relationship. Maybe I’m old fashioned but when I work with a client I want a relationship that persists. I want to have an impact on clients at the office and at home. I want them to enjoy more success and happiness as a result of their time with me. It’s not a wham-bam-thank you for the deal but time to move on.

To Do This Week

If you’re on the receiving end of the pitch here are your options:

  1. Remove the contact. It’s a good bet if you knew they were going to do that you would not have accepted.
  2. Don’t answer their questions. Rude? Perhaps but not any ruder than trying to sell you on the first date.

When you connect with people on LinkedIn

  1. Do not attempt to sell yourself, products or services right away. Let your new connection get to know you. If what you do provides value let them see that through the content you share and because of what others say about you.
  2. Spend time getting to know your connections. Show you’ve paid attention by pointing out what you’ve noticed and how what you do might help them.
  3. Finally, make sure your LinkedIn profile shows who you are and what you do. One of my biggest clients came about because they found me. They had a need, searched LinkedIn and realized I was the person with the skill and experience to help them. Invest in your profile because it’s an investment in yourself.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.

Just Okay Is Not Okay

Commercials are designed to move consumers to action. One commercial caught my attention recently because it made me laugh. AT&T’s Just Okay Is Not Okay shows a concerned couple in a hospital room waiting to meet the surgeon. They ask if the nurse has ever worked with the doctor. The nurse replies, “Oh yea, he’s okay.” The couple gets a concerned look and says, “Just okay?” The commercial concludes with “Just okay is not okay, especially when it comes to your network.” Want a good laugh? Watch the commercial.

Expertise

You rely on experts every day and just okay is not okay. Sometimes you’re very aware of the need for expertise, like finding the right surgeon before an important procedure. Other times you don’t think as much about the level of expertise. Calling a plumber or finding an auto mechanic might fall into this category.

How do you tell the difference between? You don’t choose a surgeon based on his or her fees. Your concern is more about the reputation of the surgeon. What people have to say means far more than cost. However, when it comes to a plumber, mechanic or electrician quite often people will get several quotes and price is a big factor in the decision make process. You assume expertise because it’s likely the plumber, mechanic or electrician knows more than you but you’re not as nearly concerned with reputation.

Over my lifetime I’ve heard many people talk about their surgeon saying, “He’s great, one of the best in the area,” or “She’s been in practice for more than 20 years.” Not once have I heard such statements about a plumber, mechanic or electrician. Nope, it’s usually, “They did a great job and they weren’t a lot less than the other quotes I got.”

When the stakes go up you naturally become more concerned with reputation and less with cost. People will pay almost anything to get healthy but not to unclog a drain or have their brakes replaced.

Trust

But expertise by itself is not enough. The AT&T commercial highlights this when the doctor says, “Guess who got reinstated?” What? Why was he suspended? Who cares because you’d never feel good hearing that and whatever you might learn wouldn’t make you feel comfortable.

So, you don’t hire people on expertise alone. Whether it’s someone in home repair, investments or health care, if you hear anything negative about regarding trustworthiness you’re not likely to take a chance on the individual or firm.

For example, Bernie Madoff may know more about markets and investing than you or I but I’m confident you would never trust him with your money. In much the same way that reputation becomes more important as the stakes go up, so does the trust factor.

Conclusion

The commercial is a bit over the top but it’s funny because it’s true. You want to work with people who are great – not just okay – at what they do. And, you want those same experts to be trustworthy. That’s a powerful combination to justify doing business with someone.

To Do This Week

Let’s bring this back to you. What are you doing to increase your skills so you’re viewed as an expert? The law of averages says not everyone is great. Most are average and some are below average. Neither of those categories should be acceptable to you because they won’t be acceptable to someone who’s considering hiring you. One great way you can upskill is leveraging LinkedIn Learning. There are nearly 14,000 courses on almost anything you can imagine. Check it out, decide what you want to get better at then avail yourself of all the resources they offer.

What are you doing to build your trust level with people? Doing great work won’t be enough if you don’t deliver it when you said you would. You can reinforce your trust with simple phrases like, “As promised,” or “I wanted to get this to you early.” Those simple prompts will remind people you’re a person of your word.

Bottom line, set your sights on becoming a trusted expert and your ability to ethically persuade others will go up significantly.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by almost 90,000 people around the world!

Quarterly Newsletter

It’s hard to believe 2019 is over and we’re into 2020. I hope 2019 was great for you on a professional and personal level. It was for me and I look forward to an even better 2020. I hope you do too. As always, I appreciate you giving me a few moments of your time to catch you up on what’s happening with Influence PEOPLE and to share resources that can help you become a more persuasive person.

Sincerely,
Brian

 

What’s Influence PEOPLE all about?

Why – Help you enjoy more professional success and personal happiness.
How – Teach you the science of ethical influence.
What – Speak, write, train, coach and consult.
Who – We work primarily with sales-people, business leaders, coaches and attorneys.

The move to Influence PEOPLE full time was tougher than I expected in some respects but much more satisfying than I ever would have imagined! The autonomy, and opp-ortunity to focus on what I deem most important every day,  is wonderful.

It’s very different working for yourself with no one to be accountable to except you. Several things stand out when I think about it vs. my time in corporate America.

First, removing the distractions and meetings that come with a big company increases your ability to accomplish meaningful work. If I spend three or four hours at Starbucks I easily accomplish more than what I would have done in eight hours at the office.

Second, having to do everything yourself is hard but highlights how much waste there is when you work for a big company. Work has a very different feel when it’s your time, money and effort on the line. It’s the difference between thinking like an owner versus being an employee.

Third, time feels different. This was highlighted around the holidays. I used to get excited about extended breaks for the holidays. Not having an office to go to, and not “taking time off” were strange feelings.

Here’s to a great 2020. I hope it’s your best year so far and that each one only gets better and better.

Here’s What’s New

TED Talk in March!

I’m thrilled to tell you I’ve been selected to present at the TEDx New Albany event on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Giving a TED Talk is something I’ve aspired to for more than a decade so I’m beyond excited! My talk will be about how to set the stage for more success and happiness using pre-suasion. If you’d like to attend in person click here for details on time, location and tickets.

Audio Book will be available this month!

Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical came out in paperback and eBook in August. My goal in writing the book was to give you tangible ideas you can use immediately to enjoy more professional success and personal happiness. I was thrilled when it made the top 10 in Amazon’s Casualty Insurance and Insurance categories. It also cracked the top 50 in Sales & Selling. Now I’m excited to let you know the audio version should be available by the end of January. In the meantime, if you prefer paperback of eBook click here to order your copy.

New Podcasts

I was a guest on a dozen podcasts in the fourth quarter and nearly three dozen during the year. I’ve learned getting on podcasts is like compound interest – the more you’re on, the more you get on because podcasters listen to other podcasts. If you want to catch any episodes from 2019, there are links to each on my website. Click here to find the ones you’d like to listen to.

New LinkedIn Courses

In 2019 I had three new LinkedIn Learning courses go live:

  • Persuasive Coaching
  • Building a Coaching Culture
  • Advanced Persuasive Selling

I cannot say enough great things about the folks at LinkedIn. They’re awesome people to work with! Click here to check out short previews for each course.

Best of…

Do you enjoy learning but find it difficult to locate good content? Time is your most valuable commodoty so don’t spin your wheels searching. To help you save some of that precious resource below are some great books to read, podcasts to listen to and TED Talks to watch.

Books

Messengers: Who We Listen to, Who We Don’t and Why by Steve Martin and Joseph Marks. Two people can say the very same thing and get very different results. Coming from the mouth of one person a message may fall on deaf ears but from another that same message changes the world! Why? This book helps you understand that it’s more than what’s communicated, it’s who is communicating. The authors don’t just leave you with an understanding of why; they give you the how. They tell you how you can become a messenger more people listen to. The book is good for anyone who wants to be more influential but it’s critically important for salespeople, coaches and leaders in every field.

Entrepreneurial You by Dorie Clark. Here’s what I wrote in my Amazon review: Stepping out on your own is scary and exciting, energizing and draining, and so many other polar opposites so it’s good to have a resource to come back to for grounding and to realize you’re normal with these feelings. I just finished this book and I’m working through the 80+ page workbook Dorie provides for free. Don’t short change yourself – read the book then complete the workbook because both have immense value. I had a very good general idea of how I wanted to approach my business but Dorie’s book and the actual exercises in the workbook have opened my eyes to even more possibilities. The book has many ideas I had not considered and writing in the workbook stimulated lots of new ideas. My initial challenge will be to narrow my focus as opposed to trying to do too much. Both activities will be worth your while IF you make time to do them. I’m glad I did and I bet you will be too.

Podcasts

Applied Curiosity Lab Radio is cohosted by sisters Becki Saltzman and Jennifer Felberg. I’ve known Becki for many years and have been a guest on the show a couple of times. She is also a LinkedIn Learning instructor. Becki and Jennifer apply their curiosity muscles to a variety of topics. I guarantee two things: you will laugh and learn. Hard to beat that so why not check them out?

Brainfluence is hosted by Roger Dooley. Roger is the author of Brainfluence, The Persuasion Slide and Friction. If you want to get to the neuroscience of sales, marketing and customer experience then this is the podcast for you. Roger has hundreds of episodes to choose from and has some of the biggest names in social psychology and behavior economics on the show including Robert Cialdini and Dan Ariely.

TED Talks

How Great Leaders Inspire Action from Simon Sinek. There’s a reason this talk from 2009 has nearly 48 million views; it’s inspirational and the message is timeless. Bottom line; people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This talk helped spur on the concept of “Why?” and skyrocketed Simon Sinek to fame as a business thought leader. Even if you’ve seen it, it’s worth watching again as you start the new year.

The Power of Vulnerability from Brene Brown. With 45 million views Brene Brown’s message obviously hit home for lots of people. A humorous talk based on research, she defies the notion “never let them see you sweat.” Being vulnerable is what people want because it’s the basis for connection. You may have been one of the 45 million who’ve already watched it but take a moment to do so again.

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 85,000 people around the world!

Brian.Ahearn@influencepeople.biz
614.313.1663

LinkedIn Learning – A New Course Coming Soon!

As I type this I’m in Carpinteria, CA, formerly home to Lynda.com, now LinkedIn Learning. This is my fourth time here to film a course. Advanced Selling: Persuading Different Personality Types will be released this fall. Working with LinkedIn is like you might imagine a cutting edge tech company to be. As soon as yo walk into their main facility you see ping pong and foosball tables. Breakfast, lunch are included along with unlimited coffee and snacks. My waistline is glad I don’t work there full time!

But the coolest thing at LinkedIn are the people. They are off the charts amazing at what they do and so much fun to work with. Preparation for a course begins months in advance with script writing. You work with an editor to get the words just right for LinkedIn’s worldwide audience. When you arrive to film you have make-up (yes, I wore make-up!), hair, lighting and sound technicians and a producer. After the filming the graphics folks work their magic. It amazes me what they produce after a day or two in a dark room in front of a green screen. It puts me in awe of what it must take to make motion pictures and televisions shows.

Below is the intro video to my course on Persuasive Selling. I encourage you to take a look and visit LinkedIn Learning to watch it and some of the thousands of other courses they offer. From Adobe to Excel to just about anything else business related, you can learn about everything at LinkedIn Learning.

 

Eight key psychological concepts in sales from Persuasive Selling by Brian Ahearn

 

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalitiesthis fall.

 

 

The Dumbing Down of Social Media

Did you know, in many European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Poland) organ donation rates are almost 100%? However, in some countries (U.K., Germany, Denmark) it’s less than 25%! Are some Europeans four times more socially conscious than their continental partners or is something else going on?

The gap can be explained by one simple difference – in many countries the default when getting a drivers license is to be an organ donor. In countries with high donation rates Europeans drivers have to check a box to opt out of organ donation. In countries with low participation rates people have to check a box to become an organ donor.

Checking a box takes virtually no effort but that small change in the default – check to opt in vs. check to opt out – makes a huge difference! Many people argue it’s good for society to make certain choices, like organ donation or saving for retirement, easier whenever possible.

Behavioral economics looks how people make choices and what’s been discovered can help individuals and organizations structure choices in ways that benefit more people. But, resetting defaults doesn’t always lead to the hoped-for outcomes, especially with social media. The problem is many sites are dumbing things down.

Congrats on your work anniversary!

If you spend any time on LinkedIn then it’s a good bet you’ve seen notifications alerting you about work anniversaries for your connections. That’s nice because those milestones might otherwise go unnoticed.

To make life easier for LinkedIn users the platform lets you click on a link that automatically sets up a message which reads, “Congrats on your work anniversary!” The vast majority of people hit the send button and move on with their day.

But here’s the problem, we’ve come to realize it takes almost no time, effort or thought on the part of the person who sent the message. It’s like getting spam except it comes from someone you know. The same applies to the birthday alerts.

What Can You Do?

People value what you do for them, the gifts you give and the congratulations you offer, much more when you take time to personalize them. In one study, a simple handwritten message on a yellow sticky note doubled response rates on a survey. Why? Reciprocity dictates the more someone does something for us the more we feel we should do for them.

When you take a moment to personalize whatever you’ve done it makes people feel special and shows you put in some extra thought, time and effort. That’s a great way to build or strengthen relationships.

Gifts. You could argue a gift card is the best gift because it lets the receiver buy whatever he or she wants. Letting the other person choose their gift may be nice but there are a couple of problems with this approach:

  1. Now the burden is on the recipient to go to the store.
  2. It might indicate you don’t know them well enough, or care enough, to understand what they might like.

The best time for gift cards are when you know something about the person so it becomes personalized. For example, if someone loves to browse books at Barnes & Noble then a gift card is a reason to go somewhere they enjoy. If they happen to walk away with an unexpected find they’ll remember it was your gift card that led to the purchase.

Congratulations. We all like to be recognized, especially on important dates. It hardly takes time to modify the “Happy birthday!” or “Congrats on your work anniversary!” that automatically pop up daily on LinkedIn.

  1. Happy birthday Joe. Any fun plans for today? Enjoy!
  2. 15 years is a long time Ann! Congrats on the anniversary!

If you take a moment to send a text instead of the LinkedIn message you’ll be surprised at the responses you get. Taking it one step further, there are people I call every year on birthdays. I know they really appreciate it because not only do they tell me, they tell others. A friend recently told me she mentioned my birthday calls to Nick, a mutual connection. Nick told her he doesn’t get a call on his birthday so I sent him this message the same day:

I had lunch with Christy today and she told me you two know each other. I got the sense you weren’t feeling as loved as she does so I’ve marked December 16 as a special day to give you a call. Hopefully we’ll see each other well before then. Enjoy the downside of the week.

Little things like this can make a big difference! Nick and I will have a nice laugh on December 16 and I know this; if I ever need his assistance he’ll gladly help, not because he has to, but because he wants to.

Conclusion

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about social media being social. I applaud the efforts of LinkedIn, Facebook and other social platforms to make it easier for us to remember important milestones for the people we’re connected to. But, don’t let the ease create a laziness in you. Building and maintaining relationships is different than prompting behavior change for social causes. If you don’t understand this you might end up hurting relationships when your intent was to do something nice.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker and trainer, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini. Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses, Persuasive Selling and Persuasive Coaching have been viewed by more than 60,000 people! His latest course, Creating a Coaching Culture, will be online in the second quarter. Have you watched them yet? Click a link to see what you’ve been missing.

LinkedIn is “Social” Media so Try Being Social

One definition for social is “pleasant companionship with friends or associates” (Merriam-Webster). You’re probably social at work when you interact with people in friendly ways. That’s natural and makes work more enjoyable. Are you social on social media?

Social media helps connect people. Never in the history of humanity has it been so easy to connect with so many people anywhere in the world. I’ve made friends across the globe – and met some in person – because I chose to be social on social media. You never know where those relationships will lead.

How I use LinkedIn

I accept every request to connect on LinkedIn even though most people don’t know how to use LinkedIn effectively. For example, too many people just click on the request to connect button without sending a personal message to say why they want to connect. When I get a request like that I always send this message immediately after accepting the connection:

Thanks for reaching out to connect with me Joe. I’m curious, how did you come across my profile? Brian

Almost everyone responds and the number one reason they want to connect with me is because they’ve taken one of my LinkedIn courses. It would be foolish on my part to dismiss so many connections – especially those who’ve enjoyed my course – just because they’re not more LinkedIn savvy. And who knows, those people could be clients in the future.

I like when people are honest and tell me, “I just clicked on the connect button because LinkedIn suggested you. I hope that’s okay?” My usually response: “Thanks for letting me know. Today is your lucky day!” My humor gets laughs and often opens up people to further communication. It’s being social.

An Interesting Exchange

The best exchange happened recently. I changed the name and a few other facts to keep the person anonymous. You’ll see the importance of being social in our brief exchange. There was humor and the principle of liking was clearly in play for both of us.

Me: Thanks for reaching out to connect Joe. I’m curious, how did you come across my profile? Brian

Joe: It suggests people. You looked interesting!

Me: Thanks for letting me know. I’ve done courses for LinkedIn Learning so a lot the time that’s the reason. It’s good to know why people are reaching out. I’m going to let my wife know someone found me interesting today. Every little bit helps. 😉 Have a terrific day. Brian

Joe: You tell her I found you interesting AND handsome AND someone who looked like he’d be an awesome husband.

Me: I’ll show her that message!

Me: I just show her and she said, “He seems like a funny guy.” I told her I wasn’t sure about that but being an Ivy League grad, I knew you were smart…and perceptive!

Joe: A smart something …. do you do talks for insurance conferences?  I am co-chairing an insurance sales conference this year.

It remains to be seen if I’ll speak at the conference but I know this: my odds are much better than they’d have been if I had rejected the connection. If I’d have accepted the connection, but not been social, my chance to speak would have still been much less.

Consider…

There are plenty of reasons to steer clear of social media and one big one is the time suck once you start scrolling through feeds. To prevent falling into the time trap set designated times to use certain apps. For example: I generally try to use LinkedIn early in the morning and limit browsing Facebook to the times when I take a mental break from reading or writing.

Something else to consider – don’t wait until you need to make LinkedIn connections to start making them. That’s one of the biggest mistakes people make. They start working it after they’ve left a job and need a new one. Think of LinkedIn connections like regular relationships – the more time you invest everyday the better positioned you’ll be when you need help. People are more willing to help those they consider friends (liking) and those who’ve helped them in the past (reciprocity). It starts with you being friendly and looking for ways to help others.

Conclusion

If you want to grow your influence I encourage you to be more social on social media. It’s a great opportunity to practice your influence skills, make friends, and maybe open the door to new opportunities.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. His Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed by more than 50,000 people! His latest course, Persuasive Coaching, just went live. Have you watched them yet? If not, click on either course name to see what you’ve been missing.

Humology is the Intersection of Humanity and Technology

I had the privilege of speaking at the Assurex Global North American P&C and Employee Benefits Sales Conference a few weeks ago. It was a top-notch event at a beautiful location that brought together more than 100 highly successful insurance agency owners and producers. My topic was the application of persuasion in sales. I love the opportunity to share at events like that! A side benefit is getting the chance to hear other interesting speakers.

One speaker caught my attention, Andy Paden, the Director of Practice Development at INSURICA. During his talk, Andy used a term I’d never heard of before, “humology.” The term was coined by INSURICA’s consultant, Scott Kosloski, founder of Future Point of View. Humology is used to describe the intersection of humanity (relationships) and technology. He stressed the need for people to understand how relationships and technology have to be considered together in business.

I think it’s especially important to think through this topic because too many people bemoan the fact that technology is hurting our relationships. I don’t believe that’s the case because “good” relationships are primarily a matter of perspective.

I’m sure as we moved from an agricultural society to the industrial age many people thought relationships suffered because families no longer worked together. Suddenly family members were gone 12-16 hours a day in factories which meant significantly less time together.

When the phone was invented I bet lots of people lamented that face to face conversations were less frequent. Rather than walking or driving several miles to see a neighbor or relative to sit a talk people just picked up the phone.

In more recent times I’ve heard countless people say texting hurts relationships because no one picks up the phone to talk anymore. They also pooh pooh social media sites because “those aren’t real relationships.”

Over time it’s inevitable that society and technology will change how people interact. But can we really say one time period is better than another? I think our challenge is to figure out how we can use technology to have the best relationships possible.

I’ll share two personal examples. The first is Facebook. I got on Facebook more than eight years ago because a friend said my daughter Abigail would probably want to get on Facebook when she turned 13 years old. I enjoyed Facebook more than I would have imagined and I began to realize Abigail was probably learning more about me than I was about her! She saw how I interacted with friends, my sense of humor and much more. She had a view of me that I never had of my parents and that helped our relationship.

I also saw my relationship with Abigail grow because of texting. We have more frequent contact with text because there’s no chance we would have called as often as we texted. Because I was willing to communicate with her in the manner she preferred we communicated more and our relationship grew.

If you want good relationships with friends, family or customers make sure you engage them on social media. That means taking time to respond if they comment on your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or blog posts. That’s where communication happens and relationships form and grow. Taking this approach has helped me meet people all around the world.

The last thing I’ll mention is the application of the principles of influence. People often ask if those principles are as applicable today given all the change in society and technology. Absolutely! Society is rapidly changing and technology is changing even faster but the human brain has not evolved nearly as quickly. That means the same principles that guided our decision-making thousands of years ago still guide us today. How we engage those principles differs only because we have more ways to communicate today and we can communicate with more people faster than ever.

I encourage you to embrace the changes that are happening. As you do, ask yourself how you can use the change to build more relationships and strengthen those you already have. I’m sure as you do that employing the principles of influence will come in quite handy.

LinkedIn Endorsements: Reliable or BS?

 

If you’re on LinkedIn then no doubt you’re
familiar with the relatively new feature where you can endorse someone for his
or her skills and expertise. This feature is akin to Facebook’s “Like” option.
Not too long ago I connected with someone on
LinkedIn who I’d previously had no interaction with whatsoever. The person
reached out to me because we shared a common interest.
Within hours of connecting he endorsed me for the following skills: management,
training, marketing, leadership, and business planning.
Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate someone
taking the time to endorse me but this struck me as odd because management and
business planning are far from some of my stronger skills. There are things I’m
much more skilled at, like persuasion, influence at all levels, coaching,
sales, and sales management to name a few.
So why did I get these endorsements? Several
reasons.
  • First, my profile is pretty robust and creates
    a good impression (authority).
  • Second, lots of other people have endorsed me
    (consensus).
  • Third, LinkedIn makes it easy to endorse me for lots of skills.

Now here’s the rub – a lot of the endorsements
are BS. I say that because of the last point I made. LinkedIn has made it so
easy to endorse people that it’s becoming meaningless. Recommendations are a
far better gauge of someone’s skills and expertise because they mean the
recommender has some direct experience with the person they’re recommending. Writing a recommendation takes more time and effort but didn’t our parents tell us things that take time
and effort are worth more? I have nearly 1,600 contacts and the vast majority
have never sat through my training, worked directly with me or even met me.

Another reason I think the endorsements are BS
is because LinkedIn suggests them. By default many people just go with most or
all of the listed skills even if they don’t have any real basis to make the
endorsement.
Finally, consensus becomes unreliable. For
example, my new contact endorsed me for management. It was suggested and now
that he’s endorsed me, as have others, it creates the impression that
management is one of my better skills. The more people that see that, the more they
will endorse me. Do you think that makes me skilled at management? I don’t.
Reciprocity
is yet another reason the endorsements should be taken with a grain of salt.
Many people feel obligated to return the favor after having been endorsed. I
visited my new contact’s home page when LinkedIn asked if he has the following
skills: management, marketing, business planning, economics and macroeconomics.
I don’t have any real idea and therefore can’t in good faith endorse him just
because of what’s on his LinkedIn page and the pull of reciprocity.
For all the reasons noted above, I rarely
endorse people. When I do, I do so because I have some basis for making the
endorsement, not because LinkedIn asks me to or because I feel obligated to
return the favor. I’ve actually declined to give recommendations when asked. I did so because I’d never worked directly with those people or even sat on a
committee with them. In other words, I had no basis for making the
recommendations.
If you’re considering hiring or doing business
with someone undoubtedly you’ll check out their LinkedIn home page. After all,
it’s the equivalent of a resume on steroids. When you notice their endorsed skills
and expertise, if any apply to why you may do business with them, then here’s my
simple suggestion: have several solid interview questions ready to help you
determine if they’re all they’re cracked up to be. In other words, caveat
emptor, buyer beware.
P.S. I went through my skills and endorsement
categories and removed all the ones I felt were not applicable.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
influencePEOPLE 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Influencers from Around the World – Split Second Selling

If you’ve been a reader of Influence PEOPLE for any length of time Sean Patrick is a familiar name to you. Sean is my good friend from Ireland who is in the sales training arena like I am. Sean is going to give you insight into Split Second Selling in this month’s Influencers from Around the World Series.

If you’d like get to know Sean there are many ways: visit his website, Sean Patrick Training, take a look at his blog, Professional Persuader, or look for him on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Brian, CMCT
influencepeopleHelping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Split Second Selling
Whether you know me as a sales trainer or not doesn’t matter, what matters is whether you’re reading this to be entertained, to see how laughable the content is or to scan read for a take-away that you can implement into your daily routine.
As some of you know, I write my own blog and articles for various other blogs. I am often asked to write for other people. And if you already follow me then you’ll know the content I deliver is very “niche,” to the point and content rich. This one is going to be a little different. In fact this article is going to nail one point directly and very firmly on the head in a simple, easy to grasp language that even a non-English speaking tourist from Mars could understand.
This little nugget is highly effective for people who cold call or who have to prospect for a living. As some of you already know, I am a hardened prospector and very much a relationship type of sales guy. For those of you who sit on the same bench as me, you’re in for a serious free money making and kick-ass tip you’re going to want to use. You’d be hard pushed to actually find a social media trainer who would know how to teach you this. Read on for what I believe is a very important tip about LinkedIn!
Here’s how to use LinkedIn and get appointments so you can exponentially close more business by using reciprocity.
  1. Target your contacts; e.g., HR, FD, CEO, CIO, etc.
  2. Research your contacts perceived pain points and vertical market trends
  3. Grab a piece of paper and write out a quick two sentence introduction that you can insert into the friend request that is relevant to person and pain point (hence the research)
  4. Now think about what you can give to them that is relevant to your research in order for them to increase the likelihood of saying YES to your following request.
  5. Send friend requests to each and every contact you wish to do business with while ensuring you insert your offer to give in order to receive; e.g., Whitepaper, invitation to a breakfast briefing but make sure the gift is relevant.
  6. When you have identified your new contacts (the ones that came back to you), repeat, but this time asking for their work email address. See examples below of how I use this effectively and tell them you have more important information to share. By this time, this is when I start receiving DDI and cell numbers to have actual selling conversations, but go to the next step when this doesn’t happen for you.
  7. Once I have sent at least two emails to my target contacts, I then proceed to call those contacts that hadn’t come back to me. I remind them on the call that I am the person who sent them valuable information that I thought pertinent to share with them and ask them straight out when they can book a time to either see me or commit to a phone call. Before I end the call, I repeat our next appointment out loud and ask them for the last time if this is definitely OK with them.
Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.
Are you interested to find out how companies who have discovered X, have benefited from Y that has given them Z. Please add me if interested
I would like to offer you a white paper on how companies like yours have benefitted from X! Please add me if you want to learn how. Please ignore if not appropriate or add me to find out.
I’m currently networking with people similar to you that work within your vertical because I can give you new information on how to X that results in Y.
Just a quick note to point out that our objective is not to increase our LinkedIn network, although this will happen anyway. Our objective is to get to the person we want to sell to, either face to face or via the phone. This little tip is a cold call “killer!” Now, for those of you people who are lucky enough to be in the B2C space, this same principle works even better and without the need for LinkedIn.
Whenever you make a cold call, frame your call so that you are there to help the other person, recognise their voice patterns if they are harassed or busy, and tell them you can give them a couple of days to think about it. Then tell them how they can help you either by referring you to others or by finding out if they actually need to buy from you. You know what it’s like to be frazzled and hassled and can call back in two days time in order to help them out.
Repeat above method of gaining commitment by gaining mutual agreement before the call is ended.
Voila, no cold calls, thanks to Mr. Cialdini and his fabulous principle of reciprocity with a little dose of commitment and consistency thrown in for good measure.
Sean
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Survey Still Open – if you’d like to participate in a 10 question survey you still have time. Results will be shared later this month.
  • If your last name starts with a letter between A and I click here for your survey: Survey A
  • If your last name starts with a letter between J and Z click here for your survey: Survey B
Thanks!
Brian, CMCT