Monthly Archives: November 2015

Episode 116 – Online Reviews: Validation or Sabotage?

Now more than ever before, prospects rely on reviews from their peers to make decisions.  Leaving reviews is easy for prospects to do.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily make things easy for business owners and sales people.  On this episode, Kurt and Steve discuss the ins and out of this as well as the law of social validation.

The more a brand is advertised, the more popular and familiar it is perceived to be. We as consumers somehow infer that something is popular simply because it is advertised. When people are buying gifts for others, social proof is one of the most effective techniques that a salesclerk can use.”

Many salespeople find great success in telling clients that a particular product is their “best-selling” or “most popular” on hand because social validation increases their credibility of the product. When customers feel that something is more popular, they spend more money to acquire it, even if there is no proof other than the salesperson’s word. So it is with advertising: Asserting that a product is in super-high demand or that it is the most popular or fastest selling, etc., seems to provide proof enough. When consumers perceive a product is popular, that’s often all they need to go out and purchase it.

The creation and use of social validation is rampant: Clubs make their spots look like “the place to be” by allowing huge waiting lines to congregate outside their facilities, even when the place is practically empty inside. Salespeople often recount the many other people who have purchased the item in question. That’s why referrals are some of your best prospects! Referrals are your greatest source of social validation.  Sales and motivation consultant Cavett Robert said it best: “Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.”

Episode 115 – When Persuasion Backfires

On this episode, Kurt and Steve answer an email from a listener who has an interesting problem with people littering on his property.  This launches into a discussion about how to persuade when the benefits/consequences aren’t immediate to your prospect.  This is highly influenced by your environment.

Your environment and the expectations of that environment should be persuasive. There is a concept called the Phillip Zimbado’s Broken Window Theory. This theory suggests that a building full of broken windows will cause people to assume that no one cares for the building or its appearance. This in turn will spur more vandalism and more broken windows. In other words, the environment’s condition gives suggestions that lead people to hold certain assumptions, and people then act on those assumptions. The broken windows invite greater damage and crime.   Zimbardo did a study illustrating this point.  He left his car out on the street in Palo Alto California.  The first week the car blended in with all the other cars and nothing happened to it.  After the first week he broke one on the windows of the car and left it on the street.  Just by the one broken window he found that it dramatically increases the chances that it would be vandalized.

In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell uses an example of the Broken Window Theory as he explains the New York City subway clean-up. The subway system was in dire need of rebuilding—a multibillion-dollar endeavor. With the system about to collapse, the focus was understandably on issues like reducing crime and improving subway reliability. As a consultant hired by the New York Transit Authority, George Kelling urged officials to utilize the Broken Window Theory. They were hired to clean up the subways, they immediately assigned people to start cleaning up all the graffiti. Removing the graffiti seemed to be of such little consequence compared to everything else there was to worry about, but Gunn was insistent. In his own words:

The graffiti was symbolic of the collapse of the system. When you looked at the process of rebuilding the organization and morale, you had to win the battle against graffiti. Without winning that battle, all the management reforms and physical changes just weren’t going to happen. We were about to put out new trains that were worth about ten million bucks apiece, and unless we did something to protect them, we knew just what would happen. They would last one day and then they would be vandalized.  The entire anti-graffiti campaign took years, but finally, the incidence of graffiti subsided.

In another study, volunteers were asked to participate in an experiment on prison environments. Half of the volunteers posed as prison workers, while the other half posed as prison inmates. The results were astounding. Previously tested to be psychologically sound people, the participants rapidly became more and more hostile, crude, rebellious, and abusive—both those acting as inmates and as guards! One “prisoner” became so hysterical and emotionally distressed that he had to be released. The study was supposed to last two weeks, but was called off after only six days!

Episode 114 – Persuasion, Touch, and the “No No Zone”

A recent article shows us where we like being touched, and where we don’t.  And as no surprise, it all depends on who does the touching.  Check out a link to the article here.

Touch is another powerful part of body language—important enough to devote a whole section to it alone. Touch can be a very effective psychological technique. Subconsciously, most of us like to be touched; it makes us feel appreciated and builds rapport. It is true, though, that we do need to be aware and careful of a small percentage of the population who dislikes being touched in any way. In most instances, however, touch can help put people at ease and make them more receptive to you and your ideas. Touch increases influence.  When you are able to touch your prospect they usually becomes more agreeable, enhances mood and increases the chances they will agree and do what you are asking.

Touch can create a positive perception. Touch carries with it favorable interpretations of immediacy, similarity, relaxation, and informality. In one research study, librarians did one of two things to university students: either they did not touch the person at all during the exchange or they made light, physical contact by placing a hand over the student’s palm. Invariably, those students who were touched during the transaction rated the library service more favorably than those who were not touched at all.  Waiters/waitresses who touched customers on the arm when asking if everything was okay received larger tips and were evaluated more favorably than those waiters who didn’t touch their customers. Touch also induces customers to spend more time shopping in stores. In one study, physical contact on the part of salespeople induced customers to buy more and to evaluate the store more favorably.

We know that certain areas of the body can be freely touched while other areas are off limits. Safe areas of contact include the shoulders, forearms and hands, and sometimes the upper back. This all depends on the situation, the culture and relationship between the two parties prior to the touch.