Kevin Hogan

International Speaker

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Why the majority of salespeople, therapists, parents, managers and politicians screw up almost every important (big) deal.

I know you must be thinking what about the other 90 reasons (or whatever number) and you are right there are so many ways to screw up a sale and only a few to actually predictably make a sale happen.

The 10 most common mistakes that lead to “no.” Take 9 minutes right now… dedicate it to mastering this material and you will make great strides forward in WHO wants to spend time with you, HOW MUCH your clients will want to invest in your services and HOW to stop making the 11 most common blunders we all make every day. I’ve cut straight to the chase on almost all of these, keeping examples to a minimum, and hard data, at the forefront.

Everyone in sales has made this mistakes. Now you won’t ever need to “learn from your mistakes” at least as far as these 10 are concerned…in sales.

10. Did You Talk Too Much?

Don’t worry, most people do. The master of influence uses few words regardless of their profession. So what is the rule of thumb?

Rule: 80/20. If you talk more than 20% of the time, it will be very tough for you to persuade them to your way of thinking. Every good therapist, salesperson, negotiator, any person of influence, verbally communicates a minimal amount of information. Selling and almost all influence is about asking questions and helping people come to conclusions on their own…with a little nudge every now and then from you!

9. Did you Fail to Recognize Oscillation?

Closing All the Time. A disaster.  And sales managers wonder why their sales people are “horrible?”  What they don’t know is that simple oscillation occurs through every moment of the persuasion process. The pendulum NEVER stops swinging. That means one second they are buying and the next they are saying “no” and that is true with all people. The salesperson who is “always closing” is going to hear a lot of “no” for no good reason other than they were ALWAYS closing!

8. Did you Ignore the Buttons you Were Pushing?

Whenever you say anything that endangers the status quo, you will push the flight-fight button. When people are in their comfort zone they will be easiest to work with. When you ask them to leave their comfort zone you have put them in fight or flight mode. You can close sales in flight/fight mode but you must be the salve that heals their wound and calms their fears and do so fairly quickly or you will lose. It’s critical to allow the customer/client to know that they are making a decision and they are choosing. If they don’t have the expertise, THEN you can select for them. If they do, allow the person to grab the coat they like.

7. Did you Neglect The Law of Time?

If you don’t let your client experience both “yes” and “no” futures, they will reactantly create the “no” future for you and cement it in their mind. Never paint a bed of roses picture for the other person. They know it isn’t true before the words leave the mouth. Paint accurate pictures with defects and flaws. Reality breeds trust and rapport. Drawing both futures of buying you or your product allows their brain to rest and not create the worst case scenario…and brains are very good at this!

6. Did You Fail to Ask Questions?

Asking questions allows you to find out what the future client or customer needs, wants, desires, values. One thing is certain: If you don’t meet at least their desires, you have virtually no chance of making a sale.

Meanwhile, asking questions also allows for the client to verbalize possible futures. (If they move forward and accept your proposal, or if they decline your proposal, etc.)

When the client verbalizes a possible future, they are far less likely to push their own fight/flight button than if YOU verbalize their possible futures.

5. Did you Launch the Paradoxical Reaction?

Remember high pressure salespeople?

“This meeting is costing me a lot of money. You need to decide today.” “If you don’t do this right now, you have screwed up big time.” “Do you really need to ask your wife/husband/accountant/puppy?”


Paradoxical reaction.

The potential client/customer wants anything INSTEAD OF what the person is selling. And that is how it is with everything in communicating about change.

When you strongly suggest X (whatever it is,) you threaten to take away other choices (even if they have no idea what they are,) and thereby cause the person to want to hold onto ANYTHING BUT X to the degree of distance where X is compared to where they are now.

What’s that mean?

A person with 500,000 in life insurance won’t have much difficulty in seeing the value in having 750,000. Having someone move from NO life insurance to being insured (even at a very minimal level) on the other hand is a huge jump for someone. If you suggest changing all of their “business” to you and your company, assume an instant paradoxical reaction and loss of the change… or deal.

What do you do? Allow the person to test you and test drive your company, service or product. Don’t ask them to commit long term. Long term is typically a bad feeling for them and they will simply say “no.”

If what your product or service does for them is worth a darn, you don’t need to pressure sell it this moment. (Yes, of course you could for a dozen good reasons but if you NEED this deal or sale, you will lose it. Why? YOU are sending off the taste and smell of fear.) Remember the last time you were thinking about buying something and then all of a sudden the salesperson freaked you out by pushing as if they had no tomorrow if they lost YOUR purchase?

Think: Your client is the girl. You are the guy. (Just imagine…. if this doesn’t quite fit your scenario…)

Does the girl want to go out with the guy who is desperate, looks desperate, needs the date so bad that it looks like he can’t get any other date? Desperation is the ONLY significant cause of high pressure selling.

With a few exceptions, NO ONE should do business with a high pressure salesperson or high pressure anything BECAUSE the person IS desperate. Desperation leads people to bad judgement and bad decisions and this is one of the few intuitions that IS well documented.

Here’s the thing: If at any time you need the date, the deal, the client, the business, the sale more than the client does, you are not acting in their best interest and you create a lose/lose.

How do you escape desperation?

Be the best, sell the best, validate the fact that you are the best.

Then you will know that they will say “yes” and even if they don’t, most of the others will. Desperation disappears.

No one wants to deal with pressure. You don’t. I don’t. It stinks.

4. Have You Failed to Develop Certainty?

And of course the opposite of desperation is certainty. People want to deal with an authority, specifically one who has no question in his mind.

Self-confidence is contagious. The self-confident person has a very strong sense of enthusiasm.

The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek term meaning “God within”. If you had God within you, wouldn’t you feel strong, certain, safe and secure? Here’s why. When you are so self-confident and certain that you are doing that which is right, that knowledge comes from history. In the past, you’ve done 10,000 things before, 8,000 of them worked, 2,000 of them didn’t, and, therefore, you know you have the odds in your favor. And you have taken along with you the knowledge from those experiences. If something starts to go wrong, you just fix it.

That attitude, that set of beliefs and values at first startles people because it can be overwhelming and then, like love, it envelops people and they realize that you have it together – that, meaning certainty.

You are not arrogant simply because you think that your way is the best way. But, you feel that your way is probably the best way today. You are always willing to change and improve midstream at any point. Have a plan, work the plan, be willing (and in fact expect to) change midstream with the feedback that comes to you. People who can do that have self-confidence. You cannot have certainty without supreme self-confidence.

What does “certainty” look like? I was in Harrod’s last month in a cosmetics store. The product we were looking at was 600 GBP ($800) per JAR.

The blonde woman was selling and what she specifically did that was amazing was she took one product they were selling and put it on my…girlfriends left hand. Then she took the cream from the expensive jar (17 x more expensive) and placed the cream on my girlfriends right hand.  “Now, you tell me the difference.”

I thought, that is fricking brilliant. Instant belief creation. I swear the store manager must have read Coffee the month before. Certainty in action. She has nothing to say, “YOU” tell me… Beautiful.

3. Did You Ask TOO Many Questions?

Now, getting back to asking questions….all of this doesn’t mean that in EVERY case you will ask lots of questions. Asking questions simply becomes your default. There are exceptions.

Example? When I want to buy something, I don’t want the salesperson to ask me a bunch of questions. I want to tell him the result I want and then have him sell me what I need to get the result.

Specific Example: If I’m buying a car, I know that I know nothing. I’m an idiot. Please teach me. The reason I’m talking to the salesperson is because I didn’t buy it on line. I’m one of the 10% of people who realizes abject ignorance in most areas of life. I want it to do X. Sell me the best one. Period. Don’t ask me questions. Don’t ask if I want it in blue. Don’t ask if I want it gift wrapped. Allow me to buy it and leave.

About 10% of your clients will want a result. They want it quickly and without b.s. or paperwork. They won’t want to understand what process in therapy you will use. They don’t care what the engine size in the car is. They are listening to you because you know what you are talking about and that you will take care of them. There is no need for anything but taking “it” off the shelf and letting the client (me) buy it. Shut up. Give me the pen, let me autograph the credit card slip. Give me the product and get to your next customer.

How do you recognize me?

Impatience. We fidget while you babble about your return policy or track record. We decided to buy three days ago, when we put you on the calendar. All you can do is screw it up! Shut up and please let me take “it” home. I beg you. I’m “the lay down.” Please let me lay!

For everyone else, you ask questions.

2. Did You Tell Too Many Stories?

Story is one of the most important aspects of communication and that means influence and selling. You MUST be able to listen correctly to their stories and be able to masterfully share one or two of your own.

If you tell lots of stories and metaphors or try to dazzle me with your…anything, expect me, your client, to react NEGATIVELY.

Too many stories without their encouragement makes you a bore. Not a bad person, just a boring one. The key story to tell is the one that shares why this product/service/you is the obvious choice because it is absolutely set apart, sacred, unique when contrasted with all other choices.

1. Did You Propose Your Point of View?

When someone proposes ANY point of view, everyone else’s mind automatically finds the opposing point of view, IF we are ambivalent about the issue. And obviously, we almost certainly are. (In fact you can NOT create change if you don’t first have ambivalence!) Therefore, let the client do ALL the talking.

The person’s nonconscious mind automatically uses your position/point of view as the voice inside of them that argues for the proposal. They then generate the opposite side. If you push or argue they will react identically with equal or greater force.

Change happens because we PERCEIVE that we are at point A and that we could be at point B. If we PERCEIVE that B is good, or dislike A, we are ripe for change….eventually. Maybe today. Maybe not. That will depend on client comfort and questions.

Reality principle: You can believe or even factually know and be able to prove that you know what is right for your customer or client. But if you present it in a fashion that will exclude ANY other options…considered or not, your position will become the target of reactance and you will get precisely what you do NOT want.

If you are a known expert, propose away! If not make sure you have told that story and remind the customer they are safe in your hands because.


So, What is The Persuasion Code?

Persuasion is most effective when it happens interactively.

  • You ask questions.
  • The client gives you their answers.
  • You ask them what they want/need.
  • You ask if you can give it to them.
  • They say “yes!”…
  • …and you….shut up!  

How Can You Get More of the Persuasion Code?

The ability to influence is the single most important element in communication in business, selling, a professional practice, intimate relationships and obviously in selling.

Every useful communication involves persuasion. You want people to believe what you say. You want them to understand what you say. You want your message to be accepted and acted upon. Period. Without effective persuasion and influence, none of this is possible.

The Science of Influence is the master’s home study course. What makes the Science of Influence different from every other program about persuasion is that this material is fresh, potent, tested, and has nearly all of what you will discover is new! There is no rehash of past salespeople or scholars.

The Science of Influence is the place to begin. What makes the Science of Influence different from every other program about persuasion? This material is fresh, potent, tested, and has nearly all of what you will discover is new! There is no rehash of past salespeople or scholars.

Science of Influence Master’s Home Study Course (12 CDs) 
with Kevin Hogan, Psy.D.

This program is the culmination of years of selling synthesized with the last five years of academic research into compliance gaining, persuasion and influence. You won’t find a program like this, designed for you, anywhere else.


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Author of The Psychology of Persuasion, Irresistible Attraction, and The Science of Influence, Dr. Kevin Hogan is trusted by organizations, both large and small, to help them help their people reach their personal peak performance and maximize influence in selling and marketing. Kevin is an internationally admired keynote speaker and corporate thought leader. In Coffee with Kevin Hogan, he shares his research, observations, and how you can apply them in your life – both in business and at home.

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