If you were to completely devour only one article I write this year, and completely immerse yourself in understanding it…this one will probably help you add the most dollars to your wallet and add to your peace of mind.
Status Quo vs. Change
You are meeting with your client, your customer for one reason only. To cause a change. Something must go. Something must change.
You already know that the “status quo” is a wicked problem that each of us faces when dealing with others.
Here are a few things that were the status quo that were successfully changed. Watch and see how…
- 8 Track Tapes. Good luck finding one today.
- Record Albums. Show me your record player and new “diamond” needle.
- Music on Audio Tape. Going the way of the dinosaur…fast.
- Video. Same.
- Cars without airbags.
- Houses without clothes dryers.
- Homes without personal computers
- The Encyclopedia on the bookshelf.
You get the idea. The status quo is a disaster waiting to happen for almost anyone. If the status quo doesn’t serve a basic human desire (sex, food, shelter, clothing, learning, acquisition, security, tranquility, etc, see Covert Hypnosis CD Program for all 16.) it will eventually be killed off by the first person who can successfully appeal to one of the 16 desires.
Before I show you the four types of communication that cause rapid change, I want you to consider this.
Almost every company in the DOW (stock market) from say, 75 years ago, is long gone. Security is built in change and not the status quo, but your client believes that the status quo is the only security there is.
Change Talk and Resistance
When you communicate to change, there are only five types of “transformational messaging.” You need to know them all.
And, there are four different processes of resistance. I’m going to show you each of these in this article and get you on the track of understanding, identifying, and solving all of them.
Let’s start with the 4 transformational messages that MUST be used in almost every successful communication designed for persuasion.
- Disadvantages and Pessimism of the Status Quo.
- Advantages of Change
- Optimism for Change
- Intention to Change
- (I’ll get to this later)
Your client must communicate all four of the above elements to you in some fashion that staying “the course” will ultimately lead to disaster. That’s right, I said your client must communicate these four to YOU. Exegetical Persuasion.
They must tell you what is wrong with the status quo. In their own words. Not yours.
They must tell you the advantages of change.
They must share with you an optimism for change, even if it is simply acknowledging that it is better than what they have right now.
Finally they must intend to change internally.
(Then of course, they must change.)
Whether your client goes to the medical doctor, the car salesperson, the life insurance gal or the real estate guy, these things must all happen for change to have ANY chance of “sticking.”
The Problem with Persuaders
What happens, though, is that persuaders tend to either tell a few stories without a context or they ask questions without thought for how the client can have flexibility in response. Many salespeople try and take the future client out of the communication interaction by forcing a specific response no matter how obvious. All of these are techniques of people who fail.
Speaker 1: So you agree that you must have a speaker who is motivating?
Prospective Client: Yes.
Speaker 1: And you know you need to have someone that is going to validate your mission statement and communicate that affirmation of the company to your employees?
Prospective Client: Yes.
Speaker 1: And you want someone who is going to make you look good?
Prospective Client: Of course.
Speaker 1: Then hire me.
Prospective Client: I’ll think about it John…..
Sure. Lots of yeses. Cool huh? That’s what you were taught in Selling 101. So this is what to do right?
Nope. Not so cool. Not so good. Down right lousy. It turns persuasion in all its forms into a (very small) “numbers game.” This is not how you sell by asking questions. It isn’t how you sell compliance in the doctor’s office. It isn’t how you sell a car, a house, or a hamburger.
This methodology WAS the status quo of selling technique 30 years ago…and then it was blessedly buried with the dinosaurs.
YES: You must get agreement on basics.
NO: You do want to treat a client like an automaton.
KEY: When you ask questions, you don’t have every answer or solution ready to bash them over the head, but you have the ability to figure out the solution with your client.
Remember the story I sometimes tell of the wife who tries for hours to fix something at home?
The guy comes home from work. She’s in a bad mood. He’s fine. She tells him how hard her day has been trying to fix this thing. He walks over to it and immediately turns a screw and poof it works instantly. Should make the world a better place and the wife happy, right?
You’ve got to be kidding.
People need to FEEL COMPETENT. They don’t only want a result. Absolutely, positively NOT.
GOLDEN KEY: People do not only want results…they want feelings and experiences as well.
They don’t ONLY want a problem solved. They want to FEEL competent and as if they are part of the solution. If you fail to accomplish this, you will lose far more often than you win even though you immediately solve their problem….
The Prospective Client above doesn’t want to be boxed in to your box with you. They must HAVE and FEEL freedom to think, feel intelligent, experience self esteem when talking to you and KNOW that you get their business, life, problems before they say “yes!” to you.
Here’s what I do when I am communicating with a prospective client about speaking with their group at a meeting or perhaps giving a training in influence or body language.
I formulate a series of questions. Some of these are relevant to my fee, but most aren’t. Most are relevant to the content of my presentation and what the current state of the company/department/association is. I’m always sensitive to the reality that the person I’m talking to doesn’t want to share a lot of this information that is “private.” I also know (and so do they) that if they don’t tell me this information they will get just another motivational speech that takes 100 people away from their job for a couple of hours and gets them nothing in return for a couple of hours.
- What is the purpose of the meeting?
- What are you hoping to accomplish?
- Who else will be speaking? About what?
- Why did you contact me instead of Zig Ziglar or Stephen Covey?
- What do you want me to communicate to your audience?
- I’ve done a lot of research into your company. What I’ve discovered is (then I state the good and the bad things I’ve found…whatever they are)…..do you want ANY of these things positive or negative addressed and reshaped for the future?
- What things DON’T you want me to touch on?
- What is your biggest concern about bringing me in to your company?
- What is your greatest benefit of bringing me into your company?
- If we are successful in increasing cohesion, compliance and improving skills, would you be interested in a mutually beneficial long term relationship?
Those questions show the planner that she has contacted the right person.
I’m not worried about “losing the gig.” If the client can’t handle working with someone who understands their business, they shouldn’t hire me. When I walk in the door I will be able to sell their product or service. I will know it inside and out. I will know how their company “thinks.” I will be able to represent them intelligently and ethically both at the meeting and when I talk about them in the future.
Based on what the client tells me, I will have figured out at least 5 opportunities for change and three of them will be blockbusters… In other words, all they have to do is the three things I suggest and each of the strategies will bump their business by about 10%.
Why? …and HOW?
Understanding RESISTANCE to CHANGE TALK
Even though they know some of the techniques and strategies I might share with them, they aren’t DOING them and that’s the same as not knowing them…. and I will MAKE them do what it takes to be successful in their business or I WON’T come back.
I will utilize transformational messaging!
Remember when your mom told you to save 10% of your money? If you had listened, you are probably wealthy today. If you didn’t (and who listened to Mom anyway?) you probably aren’t.
The Million Dollar Round Table didn’t invite me back last year because I’m cute and cuddly (OK, there is that!) but because I do three things that no one else does for them.
- I learn the business of their membership. I know almost as much as they do about retirement, life insurance, etc.
- I show them specific strategies that they don’t get from Zig, Tony or Brian based upon the unique qualities, challenges, and problems of their business.
- I love their business and care about them as people because I get to know them.
- No matter how unlike other speakers I am (because I am not your typical motivational speaker)…the audiences always say the same thing: “best,” “learned so much” and most importantly “WILL APPLY and IMPLEMENT.”
Get the idea?
You hire me and I will DEMAND that you change. If I like the group, I want to come back. (This isn’t always the case of course, but when a group is intelligent, fun and has integrity, I want to work with that company/association.)
I don’t want to be associated with anyone who refuses to improve their business…themselves…to change. I don’t want to hang out with people who refuse to excel and be the best they can, refuse to care as much about their customers as I do about my audience and each member’s success. Most importantly I stick with a company or association that has high integrity and avoid others like the plague.
When you have this attitude, people LISTEN and when you ask questions you aren’t boxing them in, you are taking them OUT of their box and making them LOOK inside to see how crummy the status quo is. Then you show them possible futures. Then I get them committed to making changes. And they DO. Everyday I get mail that says, “I started doing X and since I did, sales have gone UP…”
I might rub someone the wrong way. I might come across as opinionated. I might leave a political comment in the air or tell a quick story about a recent trip I made to let them know that I am NOT trying to B.S. them with some false Kevin Hogan. Everyone who knows me says I’m “a nice guy” ….because I am. But I’m not push over nice. I’m caring nice. Big difference.
Solutions and presentations are often different but I am always the same. That’s why I ask TONS of questions that are HARD to answer before I walk in the door.
Then when I get there I know their business almost as well as they do. (Scary huh?) And I’m the guy who will get them to change because of the research and because of the questions I ask. I do care. I want them to succeed. I will get them to succeed.
PLATINUM KEY: I don’t want to ask a “yes set” of questions.
I want to make the woman who is going to hire me REALLY uncomfortable that if she doesn’t, her company will have wasted their five figures on someone who came in and LOOKED good…. Yippee.
I want the company to have even greater integrity and greater profits and I find out the internal problems and then get inside of the audience’s collective head and cause the four elements of change talk noted above. Here they are again for you.
- Disadvantages and Pessimism of the Status Quo.
- Advantages of Change
- Optimism for Change
- Intention to Change
In order to get to yes though, they (your customer) need to express honest pessimism about the status quo. They have to tell me what the advantages of change are and that they have the efficacy to do so. Finally they have to want to change. Companies are made up of lots of people who can’t or don’t want to change.
Once they tell me how they can change or how I can be the catalyst or the spark…then we can and WILL all win.
Processes of Resistance
But there will be resistance, even if they are calling me. (and that’s how it works in the speaking profession…they call you because they heard you were great, then don’t believe their own source and ask to watch a video…is that odd or what?)
There are four basic “processes” of resistance (not reactance which we discuss in detail elsewhere in The Science of Influence).
- They argue.
- They interrupt.
- They negate.
- They ignore.
KEY: The person of influence can communicate something that is completely rational and in the other person’s best interest and the other person will want to (and succeed) at arguing.
Three things can happen when they are in the process of arguing. These are challenges to your integrity, expertise and knowledge. We’ll talk about dealing with these later.
- They can challenge your knowledge and accuracy.
- They can discount what you say as being not as important as you say it is.
- They can become hostile.
They will interrupt you, cut you off and take over the conversation.
They can negate what you are saying as true (about them) in one of many ways.
- Blaming you or other people.
- Disagreeing with you.
- Excuses for not changing.
- Claiming impunity. (They will have plenty for retirement. Their company doesn’t need change.)
- Minimizing. They will tell you that things aren’t as bad as you suggest.
- Pessimism about themselves…not the status quo. They can’t do it or make the change.
- Unwillingness to change. Complete lack of desire or intention to change.
We’ll talk in detail about how to deal with these later. Finally, there is ‘ignoring.’
Ignoring manifests itself as resistance in three ways.
- Inattention to you. They simply aren’t listening.
- Nonanswer. They are unresponsive to you.
- Sidetracking. They change the direction of the conversation and don’t face the core issue or the subject at hand.
Whether you are a minister, a salesperson, a manager, a meeting planner or a counselor you are probably nodding your head salivating, saying, “WOW! I get that all the time. What does it mean?
Don’t worry it isn’t just about you. It’s about everyone. It’s how we have developed our mental models for 30 years that cause us to respond in certain ways.
And because of that…
…there are ways to handle each of them as well…
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