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What Chevy Chase Didn’t Do Before Vacation

I’m sure many of you reading this remember the classic movie Vacation where Chevy Chase played the well meaning but inept family man, Clark Griswold. This week I’m going to share a principle of influence with you then give you a great idea, something Clark Griswold probably didn’t do but you can.

Did you know most people are more motivated by what they stand to lose as opposed to what they might gain? That’s right, people presented with the same opportunity will take you up on that opportunity more often when it’s presented in terms of what they might lose rather than what they stand to gain or save. For example, talking about the money someone might save using your product will not be as big a motivator to buy the product as it would be if you told them how much money they’ll lose if they don’t buy it. “Mr. Customer, if you install our thermal sealed windows you’ll save $300 on your electric bill over the next year,” will not sell as many windows as, “Mr. Customer, if you don’t use our thermal sealed windows you’ll end up paying $300 more on your electric bill over the next year.” It’s really the same thing just stated in a different way.

This all goes back to a psychological principle of persuasion known as scarcity. We are motivated to action when we see something that’s rare or when we believe something will suddenly become less available. It creates in us a greater desire for the thing that’s perceived to be scarce. If you doubt that just think about how much we take people for granted until we lose them or fear we might lose them.

Okay, so perhaps you’re wondering, “How does scarcity tie into Vacation and Clark Griswold?” As I write this we’ve unofficially entered summer because we’re into the first week of June. For those with families it means kids will soon be out of school and summer vacations are just around the corner. That also means many of you will leave work for a week or two in the coming months. You can tap into the scarcity principle to make your vacation a little more enjoyable, provide great customer service and possibly land (or prevent losing) some accounts.

In the past, before you’ve left for vacation, have you ever contacted all of your customers a week in advance to let them know you’d be gone? If you haven’t don’t feel bad because I’m willing to bet 99.9% of people don’t do that even though email and customer lists make it very easy to do. Most people simply tell co-workers they’ll be gone, change their voicemail and turn on the out-of-office message. Think for a moment about what would happen if you took the extra time to contact your customers to let them know a week in advance that you’ll be gone and when they can expect you back.

Doing this allows you to tap into scarcity because I guarantee customers will call or email you very quickly saying something like, “Thanks for letting me know you’d be gone because I really need to talk with you about…”

You may not have ever considered this before but you are a scarce resource because many people depend on you. If those people know you won’t be around much longer that simple fact will change their behavior just like your behavior is changed when you hear or read, “Sale Ends Sunday” or “Only While Supplies Last!”

 

With those calls and emails come your opportunities to land new business and possibly prevent losing some. After all, if a customer needs you they might not want to talk with someone else in your absence. To them that could be the right time to give the other guy, the one who’s begged for their business, a chance. But you can prevent that from happening!

 

And here’s another cool thing. When those people thank you, it’s your chance to strengthen your personal brand so don’t blow them off with something stupid like, “No problem” or “I’d have done it for anyone.” Both of those statements devalue what you’ve just done for them.

 

A better response would be, “That’s part of the great service you can expect when you deal with me. Can I ask you a quick question? Don’t your other suppliers (reps, agents, etc.) let you k
now in advance when they’ll be gone and when they’ll be back?” The answer to that will be, “No, they don’t.” Bingo, you’ve not bad mouthed the competition but you’ve set yourself apart by comparing what you do to what your competitors don’t do.

 

Maybe if Clark Griswold had done this he would have been a little farther up the food chain at work and could have afforded some nicer vacations!

 

Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Make Your Next Event the One Everybody Attends

As a kid I remember my mom saying things come in threes. I don’t know if there’s any scientific validity to that but it always seemed like famous people died in sets of three. Right or wrong, superstition or coincidence, what my mom said stuck with me. So, when I recently noticed three similar things occurring in a relatively short period of time I thought I should write about it in this week’s blog.

What I’m going to share might just help your next event be a little more successful, and a little better attended, because of the power of persuasion.

A good friend asked me to review an invitation she was getting ready to send for an upcoming webinar. Part of the invitation read as follows:

“Registration limited to only 20 organizational teams, and 4 teams have already signed up.”

Mentioning the limited seating was good use of the principle of scarcity because people are motivated to act when things they want appear to be limited, rare or dwindling. The fact that only 20 teams would get to participate should motivate people to sign up rather quickly so they won’t miss out on what could be a great learning opportunity.

However, mentioning only four teams had signed up was working against my friend because it was not a motivator to sign up. In fact, it was a demotivator because it goes counter to another principle of influence known as consensus.
Consensus is the name for the psychological principle that tells us people look to others when deciding what actions to take, especially when they’re not quite sure what to do. With kids we call it “peer pressure” but that same psychological pressure is at work on us as adults, too. If we see many people, or people similar to ourselves, doing something, we tend believe it’s probably the right thing to do and quite often we go along with the crowd. If you don’t believe that then ask yourself why you stood up last time there was a standing ovation for some event that really, you didn’t particularly care for.
Consensus can help motivate people to action but it can also work in reverse. If we don’t see many people doing something then we might not be inclined to do it either. For example, talking about what a shame it is that so many people don’t vote only legitimizes not voting in the minds of many people. As far as my friend’s invitation, although four registered teams before the official invitation went out was a good thing, my advice was to change the wording, or remove it altogether, because people receiving the invitation might see that as a lack of participation and decide not to sign up.
At the beginning of this week’s posting I said three things came to my attention so here are the other two. These were also invitations to public events but they differed slightly from the previous example. When I went to sign up for these events there was a section at the bottom of each registration page with a list of attendees. Because I went to the registration sites as soon as I got the email invitations I noticed there were no attendees listed on either Web page. Falling back on my understanding of consensus I knew that was not going to motivate anyone to sign up and could actually be a deterrent.
As I’ve been writing this I just saw another invitation, this for a networking event, and 53 were signed up to attend and another 21 were interested. Those numbers will most likely entice others to join the crowd.
Consider this for just a moment; what would you think if you went to register for some event you thought was going to be a big deal but only saw a couple of people on the guest list? You might not feel the event will be worth your time. So here’s my suggestion; if you use Web sites that allow you to show people who’ve registered, don’t show the list until some critical mass is achieved. Otherwise it will probably work against you. Doing this might just make your next event the one everybody wants to attend!
I welcome your feedback so click on the comments link below and let me know what you thought of this week’s article.
Brian, CMCT
influencepeople 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Cruising along with Influence

With influence we’re focusing on Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. How exactly can we do that? My wife and I are going on a cruise this week so I can share a couple of real examples from cruises we went on in the past.

Many years ago while cruising we had a full day at sea which meant all the action was going to be poolside that day. Knowing that, we arrived at the pool early so we could get couple of lounge chairs and save a few seats for some fellow State Auto employees. Success was ours as we landed several lounge chairs right next to the pool!

Late morning we decided to go play a bingo ticket because it was potentially worth $5000. The odds of winning were slim but scarcity, the fear of losing out on the chance for the big prize, motivated us to go to the bingo area and play the odds.
We were gone approximately 30-45 minutes and when we got back to the pool, low and behold, people were laying on our chairs! I politely asked them to move because they were sitting in our chairs but they refused. I reminded them the clothes, books and other items they’d put at the foot of the chairs were ours and they were obvious indicators the chairs were being used.
They refused to move and the young pool attendant would not help us out because he said we’d been gone more than 30 minutes. Without going into more detail, suffice it to say, the exchange that took place about the loss of the poolside chairs pretty much ruined our afternoon.

So what’s this have to do with persuasion? Plenty, because after learning about persuasion we were able to avoid a repeat performance. The following year we were facing the same situation, a day at sea which meant another early trip to the pool. As we enjoyed the morning a young couple took one of the last lounge chairs available which happened to be next to us. While the wife leisurely stretched out and enjoyed the sun her husband was relegated to sitting at the foot of the lounger as he read his book.

When lunch rolled around we wanted to go to the schooner lounge to eat. Leary of coming back to no chairs I turned to the young couple as asked, “Would you mind watching our things because we want to grab some lunch?” As any nice couple would, they agreed.

Because I understood the psychology of persuasion I knew I’d tapped into something called consistency. Consistency is the psychological pressure we all feel when it comes to our words and deeds. When we give our word we feel good about ourselves when we keep it. How do you think that young couple would have felt if we’d come back to find strangers sunning on our chairs? If they’re like most people they’d feel bad. I was banking on the fact that no one wants to feel that way and it would prompt them to take appropriate actions to ensure the chairs were waiting for us when we returned.

After they agreed to watch our chairs I told the young man he was welcome to stretch out on one of our chairs while we were gone, which he was eager to do. Now that I’d given him something I’d engaged reciprocity, the psychological principle where we feel obligated to give back to someone who’s given us something. Because I’d given him use of our chairs I knew he’d be even more likely make sure no one tried to take our place.

I got a double whammy for my efforts because I engaged consistency and reciprocity. What you’ll find is quite often it’s possible to bring multiple influence principles to bear in a situation and when you can do so it significantly increases the odds of hearing someone say “Yes” when you make a request.

As you might expect, we enjoyed our lunch and returned to the pool later to find our lounge chairs waiting for us which made for a great afternoon! These are the types of real world application I plan to share as you continue this persuasion journey with me. I welcome your feedback so just click on the comments link below to let me know what you thought of this week’s article.

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

The Principle of Scarcity

Scarcity boils down to this for most people — if I can’t have it, then I want it! If something is scarce that means it’s not plentiful and usually difficult to come by. It’s amazing how people respond differently when they suddenly know something they want is in short supply or may not be around for long.

If you’ve raised kids then you’ve definitely seen this principle at work. Just tell your child what toy they can’t have and suddenly it’s the only toy they want to play with! Or tell them what they can’t do and that’s all they’ll want to do!

As you read the following, answer the questions based on your personal experience:

  • Have you hurried out to a store because you heard the sale ends Sunday?
  • Did you ever buy a Disney DVD for your kids because “soon it will go back into the
  • Disney vault?”
  • Have you ever bought something for your home (roof, gutters, siding, paint) because the salesman said you can save 10%, if you signed right then?
  • Do you buy gas now when the price hits $2.25 because you think it will go to $2.50 (or higher) over the weekend?
  • Have you ever bought something on the Home Shopping Network because the little clock on the screen was ticking away?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions then scarcity was influencing your decisions. It’s natural for us to hurry and make decisions because the thing we want is becoming less available or is in short supply.

Research on this subject lets us in on something else important. People are generally more motivated by knowing what they stand to lose as opposed to what they stand to gain. For example, saying, “If you choose not to buy our product, you will lose $500 dollars a year” will motivate more people to buy the product than will be motivated by saying, “If you buy our product you will save $500 a year.” If you know you’ll have more success using the first sentence, wouldn’t you want to do so?

Now you have a brief overview of the scarcity principle.