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Issue 14,  July 20, 2009     —      Jon Berghoff, Influencing Others

In this issue:   FEATURE: Jon Berghoff, Influencing Others   Sharon Elaine, Affirmations for Career Challenges   Peter Shepherd, The Hierarchy of Needs   Hazel C. Palaché, The Power of Writing   Guy Finley, Choose to Remember the Light   Gabriella Kortsch, Are You in Alignment with the Real You?   Wider Screenings   Events   Reviews   Earlier issues   Submit Article
Influencing Others:
Lessons from Fiji Water, Late Night Television, My Wife

Every Book is Judged By its Cover

If I took a bottle of Fiji water and I asked you how much somebody would pay for the water, you would have to answer somewhere between $2 and $3. If I took the same water, poured it into a generic, Styrofoam cup and asked you, “How much would somebody pay for this water?”, the answer now shifts, likely to free.

Here is the critical question: What determines the value? Is it the content or the packaging of the content — the context — that determines the “perceived value” of the water? This is a big picture lesson on influence that I apply to every type of communication.

As a leader or manager, for example, the end value of every important conversation you want to have will be determined not only by the content of the conversation, but by the context that you set, as you bring somebody into the conversation.

Do you prepare ahead of time? Are you sending out an agenda before the meeting? Do you have your critical points in writing to hand out during the meeting? Do you take interruptions during the meeting? Do you acknowledge the thoughts, feelings, experiences of your audience before you start the meeting?

Your answers to these questions are all about the kind of context you set. Everything you do and/or communicate before and at the beginning of every conversation sets up the context for the rest of the conversation. Being prepared, not allowing interruptions, looking somebody in the eyes, creating ways for ideas to be documented and tracked, are all examples of strengthening the value of your conversations.

You sell an expensive, high dollar service or product. Are you waiting until your prospect objects or are you conscientiously building into your conversation – at the very beginning – why your price is actually appreciated by your current customers? Are you allowing your prospect to mention your competitors, or do you intentionally bring up your competitors – before the prospect – and talk about why they are great, and also why your customers appreciate you above your competitors. Do you see the difference when you set the right context? This is influence in action.

In a selling situation, look at every objection as a learning experience. A consistent objection is a symptom of a presentation that should be adjusted. View the adjustment as a way of setting the context, through which your customer will see the content – your product – a little differently. Dan Casetta does a fantastic job in his chapter of talking about “framing,” which is an example of setting the context.

How you bring somebody into a conversation — regardless of setting — determines the value of and perception of the rest of the conversation. Think carefully about the way you package your every communication. People do judge books by their covers.

Why People Buy

Turn on the television late at night; what do you see?

That’s right, you’ll see infomercials. Often these infomercials fall into one of two categories: health products or money-making schemes.

You know the ones I’m talking about.

Let’s talk about the money-making schemes.

You’ve seen them. Bob the plumber comes on to give a testimonial about how he went from rags to riches. Photos of fancy cars, swimming pools and people with great tans rotate in the background. This is a billion dollar industry. But what is the industry?

When you look at the money-making schemes, do you actually know what it is that they are selling? No, you don’t. They rarely, if ever, actually reveal what it is that they are selling. So what is the lesson here? People don’t buy because they understand what the infomercials are selling. They buy because they feel understood.

Think about it. Whether you are selling insurance, cleaning products, homes, technology, ideas, an opportunity, lemonade or companies — people and businesses are the same. Th ey want to be understood. Some questions to consider:

1. Do you understand your prospects? What do they really want? Do they want your product or do they want all the benefits that come with your product? Do they want the features of your product or the emotional benefits? Do you really know your prospects, your target market, inside and out?

Th is is a critical lesson in influence. Know more about your prospects than anybody else. Read what they read, eat what they eat, talk the way they talk, hang out where they hang out. Enter their world, both mentally, and physically, and you’re ability to sell will skyrocket.

2. Are you proving to your prospects that you know what it is like to be them? Just knowing them is only half the battle. Now you must prove that you know them. It is okay if you can articulate, even better than your prospect, what it is like to be them. They will appreciate it.

Bottom line: Begin every conversation, relationship, presentation by making sure those in front of you feel understood. Acknowledge what they are thinking, how they feel, what they fear, believe, get frustrated by and what they deeply want.

I have studied the highest paid public speakers and trainers in the world. Their ability to acknowledge their audience, align with them, and show they understand them is always their first priority.

Back when President Obama was in a heated race with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, I was standing in line at a local pizza place, watching the television screen during the opening of one of their debates. At the time, they were practically neck and neck and John Edwards had just bowed out of the race.

Obama made a single comment and I immediately sent an email to my buddy Hal and my wife Mara, reading, “Barack is our next president.”

I saw him implementing, with perfection, the topic we just talked about. Here is what happened:

Obama opened his comments by first acknowledging the supporters of John Edwards. This was brilliant because Obama knew that with Edwards out of the race, many of his supporters would now be up for grabs. It was his very first public comment since Edwards ducked out and it was aimed directly at those supporters.

They were acknowledged. They were understood. They were respected. Barack knew Edward’s supporters wanted to be understood before they needed to understand him. He won the nomination, and ultimately a historic bid for presidency.

Influence Lessons from My Wife

My wife Mara, who also worked for Cutco, is one of the greatest developers of people I have ever met. She is a great leader, and an incredible person of influence.

Mara was known in the company for her magical ability to lead, inspire and attract great people and it is no surprise she is a member of the Cutco Hall of Fame as a manager. The value in what Mara knows about influence transcends sales management and applies to any and every area of influence.

So, what is Mara’s secret?

When I ask Mara why was she able to attract, retain and develop leaders at the highest levels of performance, she always replies with one simple answer, “People want to feel good.”

Do people feel good around you? Do you make others smile? Do others want to be around you? This might sound like a step backward from “high level” sales training, but at the very core, this is as important as it gets.

At the end of the day, people don’t buy products, they buy people. They buy you. They buy how they feel around you People are starving for recognition, a compliment, a laugh or somebody who can sincerely make them feel good. Don’t overlook the power of this. I would go as far as saying that whether you sell a product, service, idea or opportunity, your mission should revolve around making others feel good. Thank people in as many ways as possible. Do it verbally, in writing, in private and in public.

It sounds simple, but it isn’t always easy.

What is the secret? It starts with making sure that you feel good yourself.

Remember, influence is the process of transformation. You can only transform others to the degree that you can transform yourself. You can’t give what you don’t have. They will only feel good about you, what you are selling or just life, to the degree they see you feel good about yourself, your product or even life in general.

If you find yourself in a winter of life, ask what you can be grateful for. What you appreciate appreciates. As you focus on what you do have, instead of what you don’t have, you will find a joy that will end up reflecting in those around you.   ###
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Praise for Jon Berghoff and Cutting Edge Sales

“Look at what Jon Berghoff has done here. This is magnificent. Your sales will explode. The sales world will change because of Cutting Edge Sales.”
Ivan R. Misner, Ph.D., Founder of BNI and NY Times Bestselling Author of Masters of Sales

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Brian Tracy, Chairman and CEO Brian Tracy International, Bestselling Author of over 45 books, including 21 Success Secrets of Self Made Millionaires

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