In one of my favorite movie scenes from the Gladiator, Maximus (played by Russell Crowe) is about to enter a Roman Colosseum to fight for his life.
Before entering, Proximo (Maximus’ trainer) says, “win the crowd and you will win your freedom!”
Moments later, under the joy of thousands of spectators, Maximus battles and slays many enemy warriors.
And in doing so, he brilliantly wins the heart of the crowd by using the right body language, words, and attitude.
What I find most interesting, is his ability to influence the crowd to save his life from his planned execution.
Bottom line: influence is one of the most essential skills in life and business.
It’s a skill which differentiates the rich from the poor.
The fulfilled from the miserable.
And the superstar brokers from the rest.
Now, the general public often associates influence with being manipulative or pushy. However, if you study the semantics and origin of the word, it mostly refers to the power of attraction of others towards us. The word ‘Influence’ comes from the Latin word “in,” which means coming in, and “flux,” which means to flow.
Together, they mean a flow coming in.
The word was first used in the middle ages in reference to an old French word, “influx”, which originally referred to an astrological term: “Streaming ethereal power from the stars acting upon our characters or destinies.” In this way, influence was seen as an exercise of personal power by one person over another, just like the gravitational forces between planets or stars that are exert on each other.
So influence is not about pushing. Instead, it’s about pulling.
As Andrew Young said, “Influence is like a savings account. The less you use it, the more you’ve got.”
Now that we understand the origin of influence, let’s try to find out why it’s so important in boat sales. Recently, I came across an interesting sales statistic from the National Association of Sales Professionals.
In 1993, 24% of sales people made 76% of sales. Today, 13% of sales people make 87% of the sales. And as I’ve predicted, in one of my most recent posts (The Future of Boat Sales In 2019), that 7% of the sales pros will make 93% of the sales…
What does this mean?
It means that, in general, the average sales professional has become worse at their craft, and at the same time, the top producers have become better.
I confirmed this for myself a few weeks ago.
I was on the phone with the CEO of one of the largest brokerage companies in the USA. We were chatting about broker performance, and he told me that less than 15% of his brokers were making over 85% of their sales revenue.
Now, there are certainly a few major skills that differentiate the top producers from the rest, but their core competency is without a doubt their ability to influence prospects.
Right? I think so.
After all, influence is something you can learn and improve and master. So, to help you become a master influencer — and superstar boat broker — I’m going to give you 20 ways you can enhance and expand your “sphere of influence.”
For today, you and I will start with the “6 Pillars of Influence.”
These Pillars come directly from Robert Cialdini’s best-selling book called Influence. Then, I’ll share 4 more influence-enhancing elements I believe are the most important in boat sales.
And, what’s more, in the following days I’ll give you 10 additional techniques of influence that’ll help you sell even more boats — if you return to my blog.
All in all, I’m going to arm you with 20 new ways you can influence the prospects, buyers, and sellers you’re dealing with today and beyond.
So, let’s begin with the first “Pillar of Influence” and my first of 20 influence-expanding strategies:
Reciprocity is the principle of obligation to give back after we receive. Here’s the thing: People are more likely to say “yes” to those whom they owe something in return.
You get a Christmas card from a family member you haven’t heard from in many years and, as a result, you add them to your mailing list. You didn’t plan on sending them a card, but simply because you received one from them you feel obliged to do the same.
Businesses constantly use the principle of reciprocity.
Here’s a few examples:
• Free eBook chapters on Amazon
• Free reports, free videos, etc. to get your contact information
• Free samples at the liquor or grocery store
• Free tire pressure checks or inspection at your local auto shop
• Free teeth cleanings from dentists
“When I see two Porsches on the same street, I begin to worry.” — Martin Winterkorn, CEO, Porsche.
The luxury industry uses scarcity as one of their major tactics to influence customers to buy.
For instance, did you know that Ferrari deliberately kept its production to fewer than 6,000 vehicles a year?
And get this: In 1975, researchers WORCHEL, LEE, AND ADEWOLE asked people to rate chocolate chip cookies. They put 10 cookies on one plate, and two of the same cookies on another plate. Then they asked participants to rate both types of cookies. And can you guess what happened?
The cookies from the two-cookie plate received much higher ratings — even though they were exactly the same!
Priceline.com and other online travel agencies are great at using the principle of scarcity. They add a popup notification saying that there are just a few hotel rooms or seats available.
In fact, the most powerful use of the scarcity principle is used every year on Black Friday to sell billions of Dollars worth of products. Here, have a look at the following.
Black Friday is based on 3 principles and 2 of them are scarcity based:
#1 Limited supply (scarcity of products)
#2 Limited Time (time constraint)
#3 Discounted price
He and a group of students were stuck in a parking lot after a football match. The parking lot was total chaos and consequently, they were stuck for hours. Suddenly, one of the students grabbed a flashlight from the glove box compartment and started imitating the gestures of a parking attendant, guiding their car to the exit. Within 2 minutes, they were able to exit the busy parking lot!
Moral of the story: It doesn’t necessarily take much to convey authority — all it took was a flashlight to convince everybody in the parking lot of his or her authority in the situation.
In his book Influence, Robert Cialdini shares a another great experiment.
A man was introduced alternately as a student, demonstrator, lecturer, senior lecturer and professor in a school classroom. Each student was asked to estimate his height. Researchers came to the conclusion that the greater his perceived status in society, the greater his height.
There are so many ways to display authority to your prospects. You can use your dress code, your diploma, or certificate on your office wall, write a booklet or free report, etc.
Another great way to increase authority is to have your receptionist do it for you. Instead of saying, “I’ll connect you with John,” ask them to instead say:
“Let me connect you with John, who is one of our most senior brokers, and has 30 years of experience in boat sales”.
Studies have shown that the second option has been proven to get 20% more sales leads.
People like to invest in brands that they have experienced, tried before, or are familiar with.
If you spent your teenage years fishing in a Boston Whaler boat, you are most likely to go for this same model if one day you are looking at getting your own boat.
People are driven to be consistent in all areas of life — their words, behaviors, opinions, values, habits, etc.
In behavioral psychology, “decision heuristics” can be described as our action to take a shortcut for making decisions by opting for what we are familiar with or have experienced before.
Psychologists J. Freedman and S. Fraser, explored the “foot-in-the-door” technique. This is a sales tactic that is performed by accepting an easy, small request in order to eventually gain acceptance to a much larger request later on.
A researcher disguised as a volunteer went door-to-door asking homeowners of a California neighborhood whether or not they would allow a billboard to be placed in their front yards. The homeowners were shown a photograph of the proposed billboard. The photograph depicted a house that was almost completely blocked behind a large sign with unprofessional lettering that read “DRIVE CAREFULLY.”
As you might imagine, only 17% agreed to this absurd request. However, a separate group of homeowners reacted differently. In this group, an overwhelming 76% said, “Yes.” Why did more homeowners say yes in this group?
Two weeks earlier, a different “volunteer” had asked them if they would display a small 3-inch sign that read “BE A SAFE DRIVER.” This request was so small, so reasonable, and so easy to agree to, that it made it easier for the majority of them to agree to the larger sign later.
“You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Have you ever bought something from somebody you didn’t like? Most likely not. We tend to buy things from people we trust and like. The reasons for liking someone could be related to physical appearance or to interpersonal likability.
In a study involving 70 male defendants, the good-looking men were twice as likely to avoid jail time because they were perceivably more likeable.
There are different ways to be appreciated by others.
Remember the following 4 principles, to increase your own chances of being appreciated by others:
- Principle I: People like others who are similar to them.
- Principle II: People like others who compliment them.
- Principle III: People like others who can help them.
- Principle IV: People like others who are interested in them
#6 Social Proof
People will look to the actions and behaviors of others in order to decide their own. Let me share a fascinating experiment to demonstrate this phenomenon.
Psychologists Stanley Milgram, Leonard Bickman, and Lawrence Berkowitz conducted an experiment on social proof in 1968. By having a single person on a street corner look up at the sky for 1 minute, their aim was to observe how passing pedestrians would react. The result was a very small percentage stopped to see what the person was looking at. The majority of passing pedestrians just walked past.
This experiment continued with the addition of 4 more people who looked up at the sky in a similar fashion. There was then a total of 5 people looking up at the sky on the street corner. The results from this were much different. Four times more pedestrians stopped to see what the sky gazers were looking at.
When 15 people were looking up at the sky, the number of passing pedestrians who stopped increased by 45%. The experiment continued in this fashion, until more than 80% of the passing pedestrians stopped to look up.
This experiment demonstrates the idea of social proof: the tendency for people to assume that if many do, or believe, in something, there must be a good reason why.
Social proof differs from conformity in that it does not result from peer pressure or a fear of being reprimanded. (Source: The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki)
An example: I put around 100 of my client’s logos and 5 to 6 testimonials on the first page of my blog. These simple adjustments convey authority, and reassure my customers, influencing them to follow my blog or invest in my training programs.
#7 Vulnerability & Authenticity
Never underestimate the power of vulnerability and authenticity.
Online used car sales are exploding. A new startup called Carvana recently raised $300 million to become one of the most successful online places to buy used vehicles. I checked their website out, and realized that they were using vulnerability as one of the main techniques to gain interest from potential clients.
You can see the following advertisement on their homepage:
We often think that revealing our flaws or weaknesses will make us look worse when in reality this just gives people a better image of ourselves and increases our trustworthiness.
I heard a girl on the radio one day saying that the best pick up line one of her friends had was, “Hello, how are you? I am shy, but I found you pretty and just wanted to chat with you. Is it ok if I sit close to you?”
This is a simple pick-up line that demonstrates the power of vulnerability.
“For every sale you miss because you are too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you are not enthusiastic enough” Zig Ziglar
I remember reading this definition of selling: “Sales is nothing more than a transfer of enthusiasm.”
Enthusiasm is often one of the first traits of personality we detect when we meet new people.
Enthusiasm is contagious and will give others an overall positive image of yourself.
The Halo Effect is a cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences their feelings and thoughts about that particular entity’s character or properties.
In other words, our judgments of a person’s character are influenced by our overall impression of them. Essentially, your overall impression of a person (“He is nice!”) impacts your evaluations of that person’s specific traits (“He is also smart!”).
A fascinating dating experiment was conducted to analyze the power of enthusiasm on our capacity to influence others.
A man was asked to introduce himself on video for a dating site. He used exactly the same text for 2 different versions.
In the first version, he introduced himself with a neutral tone voice.
In a second version, he used a more enthusiastic voice.
Two groups of 5 girls were asked to review either one of the videos and give their opinion on whether they wanted to date him or no. On the neutral voice version, only 1 girl accepted and on the enthusiastic version all 5 girls agreed to meet him for a date.
This experiment clearly demonstrates the power of enthusiasm on our personality and our ability to influence others.
If you look at every iconic movie about sales like The Wolf of Wall Street, Glen Gary Glen Ross, Boiler Room, Wall Street, etc. you will find one common trait amongst the majority of the actors in these films: they carry extreme confidence.
And magic will start happening in your life if you stop staying in your comfort zone and show confidence.
The simplest way to increase your self-confidence is to remove your limited beliefs.
To understand the impact of limited beliefs in our daily lives, I like to take the example of the fleas.
Fleas are known to be the best jumpers in the insect kingdom. Fleas are born with the natural ability to vertically jump up to 200 times their height (8 to 10 inches high).
If you take fleas and place them in a 5-inch jar and close the lid, the fleas will try to escape and jump until they knock themselves on the lid. After this, they will quickly adapt and jump, almost reaching 5 inches, in order to avoid hitting the lid again.
But something surprising happens when you remove the lid. The fleas will never be able to jump the height of the jar’s lid again.
They are capable of doing it but will not jump higher than 5 inches because they have been conditioned to limit their jumping abilities to 5 inches.
Another way to increase self-confidence is to take initiative in your communication and be assertive.
We have all been raised to not impose on people, and not to make people go out of their way for us. Weak propositions like, “If there’s anything I can do for you, or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give me a call,” will not help you at all to influence people to buy your products.
I like the example of marketer Dean Jackson. Imagine bringing you into my home, sitting you down in the living room, and saying: “If there’s anything you want to eat or drink, there’s lots of stuff in the fridge, just feel free to help yourself. I’ll be in the other room.”
Again, I would be completely sincere in that offer, and I would love it if you would feel comfortable enough to help yourself to something in the fridge, but I know that’s not what you would do. Now, contrast that with me coming into the living room with a plate of freshly baked cookies, holding them right in front of you and saying, “Please help yourself to a cookie.”
It would be difficult for you NOT to take a cookie under those circumstances, even if they weren’t your favorite because I’ve clearly gone out of my way to make them for you and it would be rude to reject my offer.
Consumers don’t want to lead, they want someone to tell them what to do and make it EASY for them to do it.
It is just like asking a closing question during the sales process. It takes more confidence to do but it will always help you increase your closing ratio significantly.
Several studies have identified that only a small part of our communication is actually spoken words.
In the graph below, notice that 55% of communication comes from body language and 38% comes from our voice and tone, and only 7% from spoken words.
What does this mean?
It means that if you were to only use listening and transcribe the words from a conversation with someone, you would miss 93% of the message.
Therefore, listening doesn’t just mean listening to the words spoken to us. Listen with your eyes, your body, your heart, your touch, etc. so that you gain 100% of your communication with others.
When your prospective client feels like they’ve been heard (verbally or non-verbally), they will genuinely be more interested in you.
Keep Your Eyes Open For Part 2
Alright, that’s a wrap for today. As I said, these are the first 10 techniques you can use to increase your influence. Ten different things you can do to sell more boats. And, as promised, in the next couple days, I’m going to release the remaining 10.
So, if you’re interested in discover what these extra ten tools of influence are, keep an eye out for Part 2 of “20 Ways To Increase Influence and Sell More Boats.”
And, in the meantime…
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To your success!
— Vincent Finetti
Founder & Instructor
Yacht Sales Academy