(Part One of Two)
Michael Senoff interviews Kevin Hogan
Michael Senoff interviewed me for his excellent “Hard-to-Find Seminars” Series. I’ve cleaned up the original transcription and made it readable. Now, you can see some things I’ve never told anyone except people I coach and Michael … about persuasion. This was an unusually revealing interview.
Michael: How did you first become interested in persuasion? How did you evolve to where you are now?
Kevin: I didn’t have a choice. When I was a kid, I grew up in Chicago; we grew up pretty poor. Life was not great. My dad had left our family when I was 4 years old, the day my youngest brother was born, so we were in quite a tough spot …
When you are born into a family that is financially poor, that triggers a lot of dominoes in life … stresses that other families and kids just don’t have in “normal” families. “Going to the orphanage … ?”
So from a very young age, I learned to start these mini-businesses. I sold greeting cards, Christmas cards; I’d shovel snow from people’s driveways; I would cut people’s lawns; I would pick weeds in their yards, not all at the same time … I just did more and more different things to earn income as I got older. What was evident from a very early age was that when I was selling something, I made more money … usually two or three times as much money for the same time investment.
But I also wondered why not everyone was buying from me. I took it very personally as all these people I sold to knew me. Some of these people should have bought these greeting cards because everybody needs greeting cards. So why are only half the people buying from me?
I started to think about that and as an 11, 12-year old kid started to read like Napoleon Hill and “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude” W. Clement Stone.
I even read a couple of books on hypnosis as a kid, I remember one by Ormond McGill and it became fascination. And then I stayed in sales related stuff in addition to working doing anything and everything I possibly could.
University is where I picked up the real fascination in non-verbal communication, which turns out to be the most crucial element of face-to-face persuasion.
Today persuasion is more important than ever. And almost no one remotely understands it. Think online …
All these people believe that if they can “write copy” they will get rich.
They are wrong.
That is one element of a much, much greater picture. It’s not necessarily all the words on the web site; it’s the nuances on the web sites, the creator of the products, the image of the affiliate … all these things … that sell.
It’s not necessarily the words you say to your prospect, it’s the nuances, the environment; the waitresses, where you sit, all that stuff and so everything became fascinating when I started taking nonverbal communication classes at the University of Wisconsin and I got to take part in research projects.
It was all a revelation to me … like what you dress like and what you look like and how attractive you are or aren’t; all that stuff influences. It changes everything; for attractive people, they live in one world; unattractive live in another. Wealthy people live in one world, poor people live in another one. But the perceptions that people have are formed so instantaneously whether it’s your web site, or whether it’s an ad on TV, or whatever; things influence people without them even being aware of it. And so it just became fascinating and all absorbing to me since I was a little kid and the obsession never stops.
It’s interesting … Back in the the late 80’s, there were some basic non-verbal communication and human interaction-type classes; there were social attitude classes, the formation of social attitude, persuasion in groups.
At the time there had been a really powerful study done by Philip Zimbardo out in California with the famous prison experiment where half the kids were guards and half the kids were inmates. And this experiment was done right after Vietnam and it was a very much a time of protest. That one experiment triggered a lifetime of fascination with how the environment and the context will change you as a person.
There was not a lot of popular literature. There was The Hidden Persuaders, the Vance Packard book, and The True Believer of Hoffer and a few others but it was at this time that they actually started studying and putting it into college curriculum. Now today you won’t see a lot of the stuff that I read about in psychology, but you’ll see it in neuropsychology or you’ll see it in consumer behavior and behavioral economics classes. A lot of the persuasion research I analyze is in the field of medicine.
For example, what does a doctor do in a specific situation; how does he present options to a patient? And then you observe how the patient will decide or the doctor will decide what to do based upon how the information was presented. So the stuff is not quite as secret as you might think but I will say that it’s not easy to get because it’s extremely expensive to acquire the actual studies and details of research.
You either have to be in that University learning from that professor or you have to be able to afford to subscribe to the academic journals, which are pretty spendy.
So this is an edge I have over the competition who might be talking about NLP or hypnosis or old fashioned selling techniques because I don’t even think in those terms.
For me everything is about all of the new information that’s come out in the last 20 years and I have to actually think back to how to sell; the old models of selling. Because they’re not that relevant to me anymore. And they shouldn’t be for most people because there’s so much better stuff out there.
Coming up: Tips for Making Money One on One…
Michael: Let’s say you’re at a party and someone comes up to you and says, “Nice to meet you, Kevin,” so what do you do personally and what should our listeners do? What do you say and what should our listeners say?
Kevin: A party? Literally this is potential clientele here?
“I’m Kevin Hogan; I’m an author and consultant for people who sell and run small businesses. I wrote the book, “The Psychology of Persuasion”….so that’s me. Then… “What’s your name?” “John Smith.” “Ah, John, nice to meet you. Yes, I’m Kevin Hogan. I wrote The Psychology of Persuasion. You haven’t seen it probably; have you?”
You know, that’s the great way you drill his name into your head and you’ve introduced who you are and what you do so they will remember.
And by the way, if this is going to be heard by consultants, every single consultant out there should be a writer of some kind because unless you’re a TV star, which most of us aren’t, or a radio star, which most of us aren’t, you should know that people love to talk with authors, whether it’s the author of magazine articles or whether it’s the author of a book. And the perception of credibility for consulting goes way up when you can say, “author of this extremely cool book.”
One of the great things here is you have this BIG opportunity that others don’t get, when you say, “Have you read it yet?” And if they say “yes” you’ve hit a home run. If they say “no,” You say, “ah it just came out. What’s your straight-to-your-hands-only address? I’ll send you a copy in the morning, autographed and everything.”
And now you have started a relationship in a way that nobody ever thinks is possible. Basically what you’ve just done is you’ve created a relationship; you’re giving the person a gift, and the person is going to respond with thank you. And you’re going to drop them a note back, follow up on it and literally you’ll build relationships like that which separates you out from the rest because nobody does this kind of stuff.
Michael: Have you done that quite a bit?
Kevin: If I did parties, yes of course. But I don’t. My licensees do. It’s not my world, I’ll come to that. For example, my book, The Psychology of Persuasion has done pretty well around the world, and so I have licensees around the world who can teach and train what is in the book.
So they’ll meet the COO at Federal Express. They’ll put a copy of my book into a Fed Ex package and send it to Jane Smith, and then 2 days later, they’ll ring and say, “Hey did you get a copy of The Psychology of Persuasion?”
And the guy will say “yes,” and then my licensees get appointments for whatever business they’re looking to do business with them for.
For me, I personally don’t do parties. Very rare. I’m the guy at the front of the room … where they bring you in behind the kitchen, you go out there, you do your job, and you’re gone in 2 hours and you’re off on the plane to the next place. So the HR person who brought me or the CEO or whoever … we have plenty of time together to talk and consider future possibilities.
Michael: How do you have your consulting business set up?
Some of those I consult for are company owners and some are people who are sales people; other people they just want to have a better life.
Today, I prefer to be helping people to build wealth because people are lost today in this very important area of life.
70% of income that I personally take in is through the e-zine, Coffee with Kevin Hogan and how it integrates with our web site.
Michael: You’re saying through your Internet web site and your e-zine … would you consider this one of your most effective ways of getting new clients?
Kevin: There’s nothing else that even comes close.
It’s a way for me to take weekly advantage of my competitive edge.
The ability to develop that relationship with people … after they get something that is of excellent value and quality and very different from the norm. Most ezines that come to your email box each day are really not very good because they miss the point of what an e-zine is.
An e-zine should be a personalized conversation with a singular person and in my e-zine every week, I “talk with the reader” about what I watched on TV that week or I’ll tell them that I was in Vegas if I was in Vegas, or wherever I was. And just a couple lines, I saw this show, saw Love at the Mirage with the Beatles, it was really cool and go there when you’re in town. If you miss the personal piece you develop no connection with your reader.
If I ate at a really cool restaurant, I’ll say, “I ate over at Emeril’s, man you’ve got to go there, that was just really good.” If I took my son somewhere else, I’ll tell them, “we went to The Mirage and watched Love. You should bring your kids over there if you have the kids in town;” stuff like that.
This way, people get to know you, they get to know your likes and dislikes, they recognize your strengths and weaknesses, which is really what makes you a real person and that you’re not Superman and that you communicate like a person who has challenges in life. They know you face things that go wrong … The IRS audited us, yuck, I hated that; or whatever. And then you talk with the reader, give people valuable advice … stuff that they couldn’t get anywhere else if they tried. And then you set yourself apart. And you’re always welcome to put a commercial into your e-zine as well at some point, usually towards the bottom is good. Let people get through it; develop the relationship; don’t try to get rich fast. Getting rich slow is the same destination and you get to know people along the way.
Coming up: Seduction and Attraction
Michael: So you said something really important. If the consultant is out there prospecting, it’s important to let their target, as you would say, or their prospect know that you’ve got weaknesses and that you’re only human. Will this better the consultant’s chance of gaining trust and getting the person to like him and potentially getting the client rather than acting other than you really are?
Kevin: This is probably one of the most researched areas that are out there right now.
Dr Eric Knowles down at the University of Arkansas has done a lot of research into this specific area that you’re talking about right now and it’s called an Omega Strategy. Let’s go here for a minute. It’s a strategy that has nothing to do with creating more value with your product or your proposal.
For example: I say, “Kevin Hogan, author of The Psychology of Persuasion, and he says “I run a car dealership with special cars that nobody else buys anywhere.”
I know nothing about cars. So this is a perfect place for me to say, “You know, I’m car ignorant.”
By telling people your weaknesses or letting people know that you don’t have a perfect success record; that you have been successful in these areas but perhaps not that area. All the person’s defense systems go down. They realize they’re talking to somebody who’s honest, they’re talking to somebody who isn’t B.S.ing them, it’s like hey, the guy just told me he’s not perfect. So I don’t have to go try to find his imperfection.
It goes a long way towards not only building rapport but making sales.
And yes, it’s documented, in many contexts, you’ll earn 2 to 3 times more money per person if you use that kind of an approach in life.
Michael: How can one read the body language of the opposite sex and know for absolute sure if they like you or are attracted to you?
Kevin: “Absolute sure” is a tough qualification but let’s just speak with general, more broad terms like how can you have the best idea possible.
If you’re a man and you’re communicating with a woman, there are a few things that are typically misunderstood because there are such huge stylistic differences between men and women. So if you want to know if a woman likes you and if she’s sort of leaning into your conversation with her hand under her chin, she could be interested…but is just as likely to bored to tears and this is the exact opposite of how men communicate with men.
Men, if we’re interested in a conversation, we might lean over the table and bend into the conversation and say, “oh yes, that’s really interesting”. But women are the opposite; when they become surprised or truly interested, they very often sit back and they say, “huh!” And then that’s real. They aren’t … faking it … if you will.
Women also tend to smile more than men but because of that men tend to get the wrong impression. We think, “Oh she’s in love with me.”
If she accidentally touches you, men tend to think, “Ah there’s proof she’s in love.”
The fact is that women do a lot of things to be friendly on purpose or to be nice on purpose; with men, women feel sorry for us, it’s that maternal instinct.
But when a woman moves into your space and she actually comes closer to you after you have been standing or sitting somewhere, or she gets up and goes to use the restroom and comes back to the table and then she positions herself in such a way that she’s closer to you where you are seated, now you know factually that this person likes you more.
Women are very space-oriented, territorial creatures. So can you be absolutely positive? No, but generally speaking, if a woman moves into your space, and she’s significantly closer than she was before; especially if she comes up, looks at you eye-to-eye 18 inches away or less, you can virtually guarantee that person has a very strong interest and it’s not in business.
Identifying deception … here you go …
Michael: Very good; how can one identify deception immediately? Let’s say a consultant goes out and he’s meeting with a client and he’s asking probing questions and he’s getting answers. Are there some techniques that we can sense that the client is telling the truth?
Kevin: Not all deception is the same in intent or process. There’s a few things to watch for in general.
If you’re talking with somebody and they have something to gain by deceiving you, when they start to deceive you, quite often but not always, their heart rate will increase, there can be increased blood flow into their face and you can often see the blushing … up by the nose and above the nose between the eyebrows and it will also go into the ears and so you’ll literally visually see their face redden. It’s remarkable.
Another thing that happens when people deceive is their pupils tend to get smaller.
Michael: Why does that happen physiologically?
Kevin: Generally speaking when people are trying to take in the environment, their pupils will get larger and generally speaking, when they’re deceiving you there is often moderate but not overwhelming fear which can lead to the pupils getting smaller.
When trying to think in straight lies, for some the pupils get smaller. It’s an imperfect predictor but useful in the overall analysis.
If you notice that a person is taking their index finger or their middle finger and kind of touching their nose or their earlobe, those are the places that get the most itchy, if you will, when people have a lot of blood flow to the head. That’s very possibly mild anxiety being experienced.
And what’s really interesting, by the way, just hearing about deception and thinking about deception actually causes these physiological changes in people. So anybody who’s listening right now actually probably feels their nose itching and their ear itching and will probably scratch it and touch it with their middle or first finger. It’s really an amazing phenomenon.
If you notice that someone is using too much eye contact, that is a pretty good sign that something is wrong.
You may not be able to figure out what it is, but you can usually figure out that it’s there. Those are some easy points to look for.
Michael: Are telling stories to clients a powerful tool to use during a sales presentation?
Kevin: It can be. Most people tell terrible stories that they think are really interesting.
Let me give you a quick example both ways. If you can remember that you told X story and the response was, “Oh Michael, you know I had something like that happen to me except for I had twice as many cars on the highway that were crashed.”
… then that story meant nothing and so that kind of story, the story that you haven’t tested will usually fail. People tell stories that kill sales over and over. They’re not tested and often not what is necessary for the sales presentation. On the other hand, if you tell a story that is uniquely relevant to the person and is often self-deprecating in humor, in other words it’s picking on Kevin, that can be different.
When in doubt, I will tell story after story that “picks on” or “makes light of” me. This is how I made a lot of sales when I was in face-to-face sales for advertising. I told a lot of self-deprecating stories, very short, tight, 2-minute stories that were not possible to bore and had really cute, cool finishes, all very true and very real.
Michael: Have you had any success using PowerPoint presentations?
Kevin: This is a great question. It’s going to cause a self-deprecating story … and this one’s not on purpose.
For years I have taught other speakers and presenters and managers/trainers to not use PowerPoint. In general, it’s a horrible medium for building a relationship with an audience.
The best way for people to like you, the best way for them to buy you, because they’re going to buy you before they even think about what you’re selling; especially if you’re a sales consultant; is probably not use PowerPoint.
Instead, look the person in the eye, talk with them, get to know them show your value as a person. Could you have PowerPoint with you? Sure, if they want to see something on PowerPoint can you then turn the computer on and show them? You bet. But to make it a presentation every single time, I think is a big mistake because it takes away the strength, if there’s any strength to begin with, in your presentation.
It really is you as a person that is the connection that’s going to be made for the long-term. It’s not an easy thing to do well and it takes away from almost everybody who uses it and it takes away from the persona and the presence that you have and makes you like everybody else; indiscernible from all the other people who are competing for similar business.
Be you. Sit in front of the person; have weaknesses; show your strengths; show your certainty; show your uncertainty; show who you are; show your character and let the person pick you and not your PowerPoint presentation. Always be prepared for other stuff, but stay away from it. There’s rarely a reason that PowerPoint is necessary.
Secrets of Covey, Ziglar … in the real world …
Michael: I did an interview with a guy named xyz, have you ever heard of him? He’s a negotiating expert and he’s got a firm where he does negotiating and works with governments and such. And he’s got a real different view on negotiating and in the interview he kind of pooh-pooh’s tactics and he says all his negotiations are principle-based. He says tactics can get you into trouble. Any feedback on that?
Kevin: Important question. When you’re working within the domain of principles like Stephen Covey’s Seven Principles, as long as you’re working within those principles and ethics and then you utilize tactics, there’s everything right about that.
The notion that principles are good and tactics are bad or anything similar is foolish and incorrect.
My son, if he’s on his bicycle and there’s a car coming at him, I’m going to use very specific words and tactics that I know are effective in getting people, him, to instantaneously do what I tell him to do. And so I will say, “Son, quickly come back here, instantly, now!”
That’s a tactic.
Someone can sit there and try and yell principles at their child and well good luck at the funeral with that. Principles matter a lot in life. But love with out works, faith without works … is empty. Tactics help you get in the door. They help you get someone to try you or your product or your service. But you have to deliver or it’s over.
Generally a tactic gets the first appointment; gets the first date. But after that, it’s your character … your brand … it’s who you are, it’s something about you that’s special or unique that makes you different from everybody else, that gets you the second date, the second appointment, the business in the future. So, no, I guess I would have to disagree completely.
Michael: Okay, when you’re selling your consulting services or maybe in the beginning of your career and you were selling consulting services, were you specifically trying to close deals in your consulting practice or are you actually persuading people to ask you to do business with them? And what’s the difference?
Kevin: I never really thought that much about closing. You know, I listened to Zig Ziglar “Secrets to Closing the Sale” and I loved that set; it was wonderful, lots of cool stories and stuff to close sales. But I think if people think in terms of closing sales, from a tactical point, that’s probably an error.
I walk into every conversation with an assumption that is, if I’m talking to this person, why would they do business with anybody else? It’s not arrogance; it’s just that Kevin Hogan is going to work harder for that person and give them more value and more information than anybody. I mean, this is who I am.
If Kenrick comes out with a product and I am told it’s awesome, I’ll come out with a better one because I don’t want Kenrick to have the best product out there. I’ll have the best one.
That’s just how I am and I think if people believe the same thing, it’s not even believing in yourself … it’s this life attitude that you are going to work harder for this person than anybody else so why the heck would somebody do business with anybody else? So it’s not even persuading per se; it’s an attitude.
The other thing I’ve always done quickly in closing deals is to get to the point where I shut up as quickly as possible. I always think about things happening and moving along. In the sales presentation, I never talked for a long time, I just said this is what I have, this is what it does, let’s do this right now. And then talk about baseball.
It never dawned on me to try to force the close or anything like that. I would build rapport, intentionally on purpose at first, and once rapport was there, trust was established the sale was made.
Making a great first impression …
Michael: Let’s talk about that. What would you recommend a consultant do on a first time, face-to-face meeting to make a great first impression and build rapport?
Kevin: There are some things that we know from research that work real well and there are some strategies that I’ve used over the years that happen to have either been lucky, intuitive, or whatever.
When I meet people, I really want to meet them at a restaurant. I always arrive early and sit at the back of the restaurant, facing every other human being in the restaurant so that the person who was coming to meet me or if it was the manager of the store or whatever, they would be obligated to sit directly across from me and the only thing that they could see was me; that was it.
They might be able to hear their employees in the background or hear stuff happening in the background but they couldn’t actually see anything; so I have 100% of the attention and I have essentially a perception that I was totally in control of the environment, which was real nice. So that’s the first thing that I would recommend somebody would do.
The second thing is that, if you have a choice of where to take people, there are some things that we factually know are more likely to sell. If you take people to a restaurant that has dimly lit lights, the probability of getting yes at the end of your proposal, presentation, whatever it is, is significantly greater than if you take a person to a restaurant that is well lit.
Michael: Why is that?
Kevin: Because when there is less light, the pupils expand in size and when I look at you, I see pupils that are large and unconsciously, nobody necessarily tells us this in school, we just know this from looking at babies that babies always have these big eyes, they’re happy. And we literally have all these powerful, wonderful associations to huge eyes.
And when you look at a person in dim lights, their eyes are really quite large. And there is a feeling that people get inside, a sense that they’re comfortable, that things are good, that this is okay, I like this person, they like me.
This is absolutely one of my all time favorite and most used tactics … that combination of dim lights and seating position in a restaurant … if people would just do that … they would be astounded by what would happen to their business volume.
Michael: How about this? How about seating arrangements for man-to-man or man-to-woman and woman-to-woman?
(This and many more questions and answers in the second half of this interview)
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