5 MORE Scientifically Proven Ways to Sell More Stuff with Less Effort
Last month I gave you ten ways to be more persuasive and sell more stuff.
This month we continue the series with five more ways to persuade your prospects to become your customers, including a method for completely changing a person's mind, which is not always an easy thing to do.
And you can use these methods in your personal life, too. Want to convince your kid to do his chores without protesting or your spouse to agree with your vacation choice happily? Then keep reading…
1: Here's How a Simple Question Increases Conversions
Researchers asked potential voters to predict if they would vote on election day and provide a reason for their prediction.
Those who were asked to make a prediction yielded a turnout rate 25% higher than the rate for those who were not asked.
What's happening here?
First, when people are asked whether they will engage in socially desirable behavior in the future, they feel compelled to say yes to avoid looking bad.
Second, once people have predicted they will vote, they're motivated to behave consistently with the statement they've just made.
When a restaurant was having problems with people not showing up for their reservations, they stopped saying, "Please call us if you have to cancel." Instead, they asked, "Will you please call us if you have to cancel?" Of course, people said yes, and their no-show rate dropped from 30% to 10%.
Salespeople have been using a version of this commitment technique for decades. "If I can show you how to save 50% on your car insurance, will you allow us to ensure you today?"
Perhaps a slightly better way of doing this is to break it down into two questions.
"If you were given the chance to save half of what you're paying for insurance for the exact same coverage, would you want to put that money in your pocket?"
"And if I can show you exactly how to do that, I'm wondering if you will allow us to save you that money starting today?"
Just an aside: That second question has the phrase, "You will allow us to save you that money starting today," which is an embedded command.
How does this commitment technique work online?
You can ask for the commitment if you're doing a live event such as a webinar or Facebook Live. "Are you going to do everything you can to ensure your family has a financially secure future?" Who is going to say no to that?
You can also place these questions in your sales material. Include a drop-down box where they choose their answer.
Or… "Do you predict you're going to become a millionaire once you figure out how to do it?" Or… "Are you willing to invest in yourself to lose that extra weight, live 10 years longer and feel 20 years younger?"
Get them to say yes, then allow them the chance to be consistent with their prediction.
2: Here's How to Make Your Prospect's Commitment LAST
In a recent study, students were asked if they would like to volunteer. Half of them were told that they should fill out an application if they wanted to volunteer. The other half of the students were told that they should leave the form blank if they wanted to volunteer.
The percentage of students in each group that wanted to volunteer was about the same. And however, the percentage of students who showed up to volunteer was radically different. Of those who were told to leave the form blank, only 17% showed up participating in the project. But of those who filled out the form, 49% showed up to volunteer.
What's the lesson in this? If you want your prospect to commit long-term to their goal, get them to write it down.
People who write down their commitment or goal are more invested in seeing it through than those who commit verbally. If you're making a New Year's resolution, write it down along with the steps you're going to take to make it happen, and you're much more likely to follow through and do it.
If you want your client to commit to a new way of doing things, get them to write down their commitment. Or example, if you're doing a webinar, get participants to write down their goals in the chatbox. Even better, get them to write it down on a piece of paper, too. Or you might even have them text a photo of that paper to you for a discount on the product you're selling.
3: Here's How to Unstick Someone with Rigid Beliefs
Generally speaking, the older a person is, the more rigid their beliefs become. Hey, "know how things are," and it's challenging to get them even to consider changing their mind. not everyone over a certain age is this way, and I've known young people who are so rigid in their views you'd think they were 100 years old, but those are perhaps the exceptions to the rule.
Let's take an extreme example and say you want to convince an 80-year-old to do their banking online. Hey, "know" that online banking is risky, that there are thieves who will empty their bank account the moment they go online, and that the only safe method is going to the bank in person.
Wow, that sounds like people I know, and one in particular.
Telling them that online banking is safe, that billions of people do it, that it does not increase the odds their money will be stolen, that there is more risk in driving to and from the bank than doing it online… all of those common-sense arguments will fall on deaf ears. Know, I've tried to talk an 80-year old into doing her banking online, which resulted in frustration on both our parts and no change in her behavior.
Here's what I should have done instead:
The first step I should have taken was to frame her decision to not bank online as correct when she made it. After all, given the evidence and information she had at the time, it only made sense not to bank online. When the internet was young, she heard news stories of people online stealing money. Thus, it was reasonable to believe that not banking online would keep her money safe.
The second step is to show her how banking online is consistent with her original decision to keep her money safe. Why bank online now? She is not changing her mind. Instead, she is making a new decision with new information consistent with her previous behavior.
I know it might sound like I'm splitting hairs, but this works. Tried it with an elderly neighbor who didn't want to get a smartphone. Is kids wanted very much to text their father and have him text them back, but he was resistant to getting and using a smartphone because he thought it would be too difficult to learn.
I told him that his decision made perfect sense when cell phones were new. Texting was a pain, and batteries didn't last long. Getting from one screen to another on the phone was difficult… I even made some stuff up about how hard it was to help him justify his reason for not getting a cell phone back then.
Then I asked him about his kids, why it was essential to stay in touch with them, whether he would like to hear from them every day, and so forth.
Finally, I proposed that getting a cell phone now was utterly consistent with his desire to communicate with his kids and not to become frustrated while trying to learn how to use this new gadget. Told him that making calls and sending text messages was now easier than ever and that he'd been right to wait until now to get one.
The following week when I saw him, he proudly showed me his new smartphone and glowed when he told me his kids now text him every day.
Remember, when you want to influence someone who is rigid in his beliefs, first praise their previous decision as correct when they made it with the information they had at the time.
Then show them how this new product or behavior is consistent with their pre-existing practices, beliefs, or values.
4: Here's How to Make Friends of an Enemy
Ben Franklin, the American author, inventor, statesman, politician, diplomat, scientist, publisher, and philosopher, had a problem. While in the Pennsylvania legislature, he was continually bothered and harassed by a hostile political opponent. In his own words, here's how Franklin won him over:
"I did not, however, aim at gaining his favor by paying any servile respect to him, but, after some time, took this other method. aving heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favor of lending it to me for a few days. e sent it immediately, and I returned it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favor. hen we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before) and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death. his is another instance of the truth of an old maxim I had learned, which says, 'He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.'" – Ben Franklin
Will this still work today? In one study, participants won money from an experimenter. Half of those winners were then asked by the experimenter if they would give the money back since he had been using his own money and had very little left. Nearly everyone who was asked to give back the money did so.
Afterward, both those asked to return the money and those who were not were surveyed about how much they liked the experimenter. Those who were asked to favor the experimenter's favor rated him more highly than those who were not asked to return the money.
People will change their attitudes to remain consistent with their behavior. If they have done a favor for someone, then perhaps subconsciously, the reason that they must like that person.
If you have someone in your life or business whom you might consider an enemy, ask them for a favor. The worse that can happen is nothing changes, but you might be surprised to find you've made a new ally.
5: Here's How to CHANGE Their Mind
Convincing someone to choose your product or service over the competition is one thing.
But how do you completely change their mind on something? For example, what if they are confident they do not need what you offer, and yet you know it's the best possible thing they could do for themselves?
You might think all you need to do is build a good case of why your product will improve their lives.
But while most people think that giving enough information and facts will cause people to change their minds, it doesn't usually work that way.
People decide which facts they want to listen to and which ones they want to ignore or twist into something else entirely.
When something doesn't conform to what a person already believes, they tend to either disregard it or rationalize it away. We are driven by our emotions, motives, prior beliefs, and desires, while sadly, we are seldom influenced by facts.
Take climate change as an example. Researchers wanted to see if they could use science to change people's opinions about climate change. First, they asked people if they believed in man-made climate change and supported the Paris agreement.
Then based on their answers, researchers divided them into strong believers and weak believers. They told some people that science had revaluated the data and now concluded that things are much worse than they thought before and that temperatures would rise by 7 to 10 degrees.
For others, they said that scientists had reevaluated the data, and they now believe that the situation is not as bad as they thought; it's much better, and the temperature rise will be quite slight.
Here's what they found: When people who did not believe in climate change heard that scientists say it's not that bad, they changed their beliefs even more in that direction and became more extreme in their belief that climate change is not accurate. But when non-believers were told scientists think it's much worse, they didn't budge in their beliefs.
When the people who already believe that climate change is man-made heard scientists say things are much worse than they said before, they moved more in that direction, becoming more polarized. But when they heard scientists say it's not that bad, they didn't budge on their opinion.
Giving either group scientific information caused more polarization and did not cause people to come together.
What's happening when facts don't persuade? Oddly enough, it's because the information isn't reaching the person.
When scientists scan the brain activity of two interacting people, they'll find that the brains of two people who agree are each encoding what the other person is saying. But when the two people disagree, it appears the brain is switching off and not encoding what the other person is saying.
When two people agree, their confidence increases that they are correct. But when they disagree, there is little to no change in their confidence that they are correct or incorrect in their view.
And it gets even worse (or better, depending on how you view this information.) Scientists have found that the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to twist or manipulate data in your mind to make it conform to your own beliefs.
Even if you are getting your information through to the recipient, they are still likely to change that information in their mind to conform to their current beliefs, rather than changing their beliefs to conform to the new data.
How, then, do you go about changing someone's mind?
It's important to know where people are coming from before walking them to where you want them to go. Going against their conviction will backfire, but starting where they are or coming at it from an entirely different angle can change their mind.
For example, if you want to convince someone that you don't have to be a rich one-percenter to make big money in the stock market, your first step is to agree that it appears the only people who can get rich in the stock market are the one-percenters. Only then do you begin to move them to where you want them to go.
You might think of two people, yourself and your prospect, standing on opposite sides of the room with you shouting at them to walk over to you, versus you going over there, taking their hand, and walking them back to where you want them to go.
One UCLA study wanted to convince parents to vaccinate their children. Some parents didn't want to vaccinate their kids because they thought there was a link to autism. Then scientists showed the parents that the link to autism is not real, that there is data to prove it's false, and that vaccines are safe. The parents didn't budge in their views, and hearing the fact made no difference whatsoever.
But then researchers tried another approach, which was to not talk about autism but instead how the vaccines protect the child from deadly diseases. They showed the parents what these diseases, such as measles, look like and what they do to children, and they never spoke about autism.
And the results of doing this were much better. Some of the parents said that they would get their children vaccinated. The moral is that the parents had forgotten what the vaccines were for and instead took up the false narrative that vaccines harm rather than save lives.
By not directly confronting these beliefs and instead of getting back to what was indeed at stake, the parents could see clearly that vaccines are helpful, not harmful.
Imagine you want your friend to wear her seatbelt. You could show her stats of how people in bad accidents who wear a seatbelt survive and those who don't wear it die, but odds are she's heard all that and won't listen to you.
But if you ask her about her last wishes – does she want to be buried or cremated? That music does she want at her funeral? How does she want to raise her children when she's dead because she didn't wear a seatbelt?
This could be a roundabout way of getting through to her, just as the parent of those unvaccinated children should be prepared for their children's death and possible legal charges against them for not preventing their children from dying.
If you want to change your prospect's mind, you'll want to start where they are and then take a roundabout path that goes through what's essential rather than confronting the myth they currently believe.
Don't try to refute the nonsense they've heard on social media. Instead, get back to the real reason they need to do, have, buy or take the route you propose.
Years ago, when I was still relatively new to online marketing, I decided to coach others. I'd had some success and felt I knew what it took to get a business off the ground.
One day I was on the phone with a coaching prospect. Why he wanted to talk, I don't remember. But I remember he said that having a coach was a total waste of time and money.
So I agreed. Frankly, I was trying to get him off the phone. But I told him that personal experience was best. How else would he learn if not from his own mistakes? Years of trial and error wasted money and so forth, and eventually, he would have massive success if he just hung in there through the lean years. It made no sense at all to have someone by his side who could help him avoid the pitfalls, save time and money and build his business faster, better and stronger when he could eventually, one day, figure it out all alone by himself.
I was, of course, being sarcastic. I was annoyed with him. But I was so passionate in my agreement with him that he really should do it all himself, the hard way, that he was silent by the time I finished my rant. Just stone-cold silent. I thought he'd hung up, and I was about to hang up myself, when he said, "How do I sign up for coaching?"
I nearly dropped the phone in shock.
He turned out to be one of my best students, following every step I laid out, and in a year, he earned six figures.
All because I agreed with what he was saying.
Remember the parents who were afraid of vaccines because social media said they cause autism? The real goal of these parents was to protect their children. Start from there and show them how they can get what they want.
By agreeing, by finding common ground, you get the other person to relax, lower their defense and LISTEN to you.
If you remember only one thing, make it this: Start where they are and find agreement. After that, the rest will be easy.
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