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Archive for February, 2015

You’re Selling Blue & Black Dresses but the Customer Sees White & Gold


By now you have already seen this picture. In the last 24 hours this picture when viral faster than Kim Kardashian’s nude magazine photo shoot when she almost broke the internet a few months back. Although this photo has been altered to show both variations, some people see blue and black in the original version, while others adamantly see white and Gold.

We won’t be discussing the science of why some people see it one way over the other, you can find that here. Today we will focus on the #1 mistake sales people make, the mistake of not looking at things from the customer’s point of view.

Often sales people are:

  • Too concerned with their own selling process rather than learning the customer’s buying process and delivering the information in that way
  • Talk about features / benefits which appeal more to the sales person instead of understanding the customer’s world and their interests
  • Focusing more on overcoming objections instead of aligning with the customer, seeing from their perspective and finding solutions

Your Customer’s Perception is Reality

Fact is that if you want to change your customer’s reality (making a new purchase), you must first change their perception. In order to do that, you have to first align with your customer. It’s important to understand their world, their concerns, fears, likes, dislikes, and beliefs so that you can speak their language before you expect your words to persuade. You have to be able to empathize with the customer and completely understand their problem so that you, with all your knowledge and experience, can offer the solution. Until this happens, no sale will be made.

Things to Remember

Ask questions– What is right for each customer varies so in order for you to be able to find the best solution, you must ask the questions to completely understand their world.

Ask better questions– What the customer focuses on will determine how they feel. How they feel will determine if they buy. You control their focus, how they feel, and if they buy with the quality of your questions.

Listen twice as much as you speak– God gave us two ears and one mouth, follow that ratio.

Educate the customer– After you align with the customer, now you can educate them on other factors. Give them different points of view and other information so that you can create new realities.

Create a better experience for your customers and you will have a better company. It all starts with their perception.

George Athan is the CEO of MindStorm, a strategic consulting and sales training firm in New York City. MindStorm helps companies achieve rapid growth by focusing on 4 Key Performance Areas: Strategy, Innovation, Marketing, and Sales.

7 Laws of Unconscious Persuasion


  1. The Law of Contrast
  2. The Law of Reciprocation
  3. The Law of Commitment and Consistency
  4. The Law of Social Proof
  5. The Law of Likeability
  6. The Law of Authority
  7. The Law of Scarcity/Urgency


From the works of Robert B. Cialdini, we will be discussing 7 Laws of Unconscious Persuasion. We will build on these laws and discuss more advanced applications in future posts. Today will be a good foundation to these posts.


The Law of Contrast

This law applies to any context in which we have a choice. We will value any one particular option relative to the other options available. Our perception of the value of each option depends on the comparison of the other choices. These perceptions can be dramatically affected by which options the salesperson makes available to the client and the order in which these options are shown. For example:

Home Buying– Let’s say first you are shown a couple of houses that are run down and overpriced, then you are shown a better house with better pricing. Not only will the last option seem like the better choice, but it will feel like much more of an attractive purchase than if you were shown the same exact house without the seeing the previous run down homes. Has a realtor ever given you this experience before? If they were a top producer they would have.

Clothing- If you were shown a $100 shirt that you decided to buy and then were shown a $500 suit, the $500 price will seem relatively high compared to the $100 shirt. Interestingly, if you were shown the $500 suit first, the extra $100 for the shirt would not seem high at all compared to the previous decision of spending $500 for the suit. Do you see upsell / cross sell opportunities for your products? Are you or all your sales people making presentations and offers in the correct order?

Key to this law: Start with a frame of reference which is much higher than what you really want them to end up doing.

The Law of Reciprocation

People feel a burning desire to repay a favor given to them. An easy example of this strategy is going to the store and receiving a ‘free sample’. After receiving the gift often times you will return the favor by purchasing the product. Often charities use this approach by sending you mailing labels prior to any donation with a letter that asks for one. How can you use this strategy in your business? Can you build stronger relationships with your best clients by giving them more of your time and attention?

Key to this law: The more you do and the more often you do it, the more internal pressure is built inside. Don’t stop at the initial free offer.


The Law of Commitment & Consistency

Once we commit to a particular point of view or action, we need to remain consistent with it. We have been programmed by society that being consistent is congruent to being honest and respected. People who are inconsistent are thought to be hypocrites or liars.

Keys to this law:

  • The easiest way to get someone to purchase something is to demonstrate that not buying would be inconsistent with who they are, what they believe in, and what they value.
  • Small commitments lead to larger commitments down the road.


The Law of Social Proof

If enough people are doing something then we believe it to be, not only acceptable, but appropriate behavior. This is especially true in situations in which we are unsure of what is acceptable or appropriate. People tend to move with the crowd. If you can show that the crowd is buying your products or services then it will be an unconscious motivator for your prospects to buy as well.

Key to this law: Referrals, endorsements, testimonials, and references all demonstrate that others are going with you and that they should too. Use them often.


The Law of Likeability

People most like to say yes to people they know and like. My addition to this is that they also like to say yes to people that they would like to be like (people they respect). If we, as prospects, find that the sales person is similar to us then trust is established. We assume that their values and beliefs are similar as well and we are more comfortable to comply because we can trust them.

Key to this law: Rapport must be established before any sale can be made. Look for similarities in who they are as a person, what they believe in, and what they value. The salesperson just talking about fishing isn’t doing justice to this law.


The Law of Authority

We will do almost anything if it is commanded by authority. In order to persuade you must lead. In order to lead, you must establish authority. There is a teacher/student, boss/employee, doctor/patient, parent/child social status in every relationship. The authority role can change back and forth depending on the environment. For example: The President of the United States normally would be the authority yet today he goes to the doctor and the doctor becomes the authority in that moment.

Key to this law: Become the authority in your field, strive to become the industry leader. Have your salespeople demonstrate their expertise every moment they can. This is the only way your customers can confidently take their recommendations to buy.


The Law of Scarcity/Urgency

People want what they cannot have. They want to have exclusive things that others can’t get their hands on. Things that aren’t generally appealing become more appealing when these items will soon become unavailable. Look at how the value of paintings go up after the artist is deceased. Are you using this powerful law in your business?

Key to this law: People are more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something in equal value.


Your goal is to use as many of these laws as often as possible in a strategic way to create a better customer experience, boost brand loyalty, increase revenues, and build market share. Now that you have an understanding of these laws, it will serve as a foundation for more advanced applications that we will discuss in future posts.

Selling to the Subconscious Mind

Top sales people know that in order to make a sale, the acronym BANT must be present. This stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing. Simply put:

  • There must be funds available to make this purchase
  • The person you are selling to must be the decision maker or have the authority to say yes
  • There must be a clear (and most likely compelling) need for your product or service
  • And finally, the prospect must want to buy today as opposed to sometime in the future

Let’s focus on Authority. We know that selling to someone who is not the decision maker is almost a complete waste of our valuable time. Yet so many people are doing just that when they are making their presentation to their target’s conscious mind as opposed to speaking to the real decision maker- the prospect’s subconscious.

Prof. Tim Wilson of Virginia is quoted often about a statistic that talks of the rates of information processing (absorption) by brain: Brain processes about 40 bits of info per second consciously whereas the unconscious processing is eleven million bits per second. These numbers were given in his 2002 book “Strangers to Ourselves.” Further research has shown similar numbers:

Dr. Norretranders book ‘User Illusion” was a translation of his original Danish version published in 1991.

So what does this mean and how does this help us? Think about when you walk towards a door. Even if you have never been in front of that door you instinctively reach out and push it, pull it, or turn a knob- all this is done effortlessly and seems to be without much thought. Fact is your brain has put in a lot of thought in that decision at a subconscious level. To know whether you should pull it towards you or push it out, your subconscious mind is looking through past life experiences, examples and previous references of doors that you have approached similar to this one and tells you exactly what actions to take. The same process happens during every moment of your life- including your sales conversations.

As a matter of fact, according to A. K. Pradeep of “The Buying Brain”, as much as 95% of our decisions are made by the subconscious mind. As a result, the world’s largest and most sophisticated companies are applying the latest advances in neuroscience to create brands, products, package designs, marketing campaigns, store environments, and much more, in order to appeal directly and powerfully to our brains. Are you? What are you really saying in your presentation? Are you making it easier to buy or does your presentation create red flags in the buyer’s subconscious? The real decision maker in their mind is scanning through hundreds, maybe even thousands of past conversations, life experiences and scenarios to see what they should do. That ‘gut feeling’ isn’t so mysterious after all. Just like the example of the door, your subconscious is asking: Have I been here before? And if so, what did I do? How did it work out? What should I do?

Over the next few weeks we will go deeper into this topic and spend a lot of time talking about many different influence and persuasion strategies that you can incorporate in your customer’s experience. We will discuss strategies that are pulled from a broad range of topics such as:

  • Influence/Persuasion
  • Nuero Linguistic Programming (NLP)
  • Nueroscience/Nueromarketing
  • Behaviorism/Psychology
  • Hypnosis/Hypnotherapy
  • Attraction/Seduction
  • Motivational Speaking
  • Game Theory
  • Sales

And much more…