Tag Archive for: Anthony McLean

Influencers from Around the World – Consensus + Scarcity = FAIL!

This month, our Influencers from
Around the World guest post comes from Anthony McLean, a long-time contributor
to Influence PEOPLE. Anthony is Australia’s one and only Cialdini Method Certified
Trainer (CMCT®). He started the Social Consulting Group where he teaches people and
organizations the principles of influence. Reach out to Anthony on LinkedIn and Twitter to learn more from him.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Consensus + Scarcity = FAIL
Recently I have noticed a very
interesting phenomenon. Consensus is failing to have the impact it is intended
to have. In our time,  the cues to guide
our behaviour are more prevalent and appreciated than ever before. For example,
when I land on an online shopping page, the reviews, ratings, and testimonials
provide me with vitally important information such as others like me have been
here before; this vendor can be trusted; the products are as they are
described; and so on.  In the traditional
sense it is these cues that help me overcome my uncertainty and help me make a
Therefore when I am not sure of
what I should do, I look to the actions of others; especially in unknown and
untested situations. And not just any others, I look to those most like me to
guide my behaviour. 
Rest assured my friends, Consensus
is truly a principle that, when used well, saves time, promotes sales, and
builds communities. It’s a cracker (Australian for really good, awesome, etc.)!
What then, I hear you say, does
the title of this post mean? Let me tell you, but first let me pose a mystery.
Why would a leading publically listed company make a wrongheaded decision and
turn away from the actions of others?
In the delivery of the Principles
of Persuasion Workshops, my keynotes and in my consulting and coaching, I
continually stress to my audience that not all testimonials are same. We know
that by distilling the testimonial data, drilling into the case studies, and
sharing what people most like you are doing now or have done in the past, will
have a great impact on your “persuadee’s” behaviour.
However, recently I have been
working in a space in which the products on offer between companies are very
similar. Many industries have been through a phase in which they have competed
on price. However to cut prices they must cut margin and then services and
ultimately their perceived value. Those industries then got to a point where
price was no longer a determining factor. While they could have continued to
compete on price, at some point there needed to be platform based on value, relationships,
and/or loyalty. The change had to come because buying customers through discounts
was bringing about the wrong type of relationship, where every dollar was held
tightly. Dishonesty between provider and customer was rife because of the
perception that every dollar mattered and after all it was just a transactional
relationship; those who got or saved the most money won!
It is at this point a nuance of
Consensus kicks in; the suppliers are all in the same industry, they offer
similar products, they compete for the same customers, staff and leaders, but
they do not see themselves as the same as each other. How do I know? 
If you present to an organization
evidence of what others in the industry are doing, rather than move toward your
ideas, they immediately repel, back away and dismiss what others in their
industry are doing. Showing them what many others in their industry are doing,
creates a drive in initiative to be different and cut a new path, one less
travelled, in an effort to attract disgruntled and disenfranchised customers
looking to leave their current provider in search of something better. The
competition is so great in this industry that the drive to be unique, to be
something truly valuable, outweighs the power of Consensus.
Now I am not saying Consensus will
not work in this industry – quite the contrary. However, , Consensus can fail to
influence behaviour because of Scarcity – if the competition is doing it we
must do something different and  be seen
as unique. We must have a clear USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and can’t be
the same because then the consumer will not be able to tell us apart. 
In this instance Scarcity was
trumping Consensus.
So what are you to do? Firstly
don’t get caught up in labels and demographics. Just because Company A and
Company B are in the same industry they may not see themselves as the same. Therefore
ask the decision makers you are seeking to influence about their values, their
vision and whom they think across the business world is most like them.  Then start to research, dig into those
companies that your persuadee sees themselves like and show them what those
companies are doing in similar situations. 
Therefore why did a publically
listed company turn away from the crowd and make a decision that seemed at odds
with their industry? Because they did not see themselves as the same as others
in their industry. They were different. They were unique. They were
competitors. Therefore they would do things differently, cut new directions and
be innovative – they wanted to be Apple. So we showed them what Apple did and
low and behold they sat up and took notice. 
By the way they were not in the
same league as Apple but it didn’t matter – in their eyes – they were, so
that’s what we showed them to change their thinking.

Anthony McLean, CMCT®

Influencers from Around the World – A Short Course in Human Relations

This month our Influencers from Around the World guest post comes from someone who is familiar to long-time readers of Influence PEOPLE – Anthony McLean. Anthony is Australia’s one and only Cialdini Method Certified Trainer (CMCT®). He heads up the Social Consulting Group where he teaches people about the principles of influence. I encourage you to reach out to Anthony on LinkedIn and Twitter to learn more from him.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
A Short Course in Human Relations
A past participant of the
Principles of Persuasion Workshop sent me the important message below. His name
is Peter, and he pointed out There’s
plenty of ‘POP’ in this.” Of course
he was right.
Let’s break it down one line at a
time and let me show you why there is so much of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s
Principles of Persuasion in this short piece.
The six
most important words – I admit that I was wrong.
In the Principles of Persuasion Workshop we teach the Principle of
which says we look to those with extra knowledge or
wisdom on a topic to guide our thinking when we are not sure what we should do.
As part of being an Authority you must be seen as credible and one of the most
important elements to being credible is being trustworthy. If I was to try to take
advantage of you, I would never admit a mistake, let you know I got something
wrong or was lacking in some area of my product or service. But an Authority never hides from weaknesses. They
admit when they are wrong. Why? Because they know how to make it better. So remember,
it’s a mistake to hide a mistake. Admit it, and admit it quickly, then set
about explaining how you intend to make it right. If you don’t, one of your
competitors will highlight it and then your credibility is gone.
The Five
most important words – You did a great job.
Everybody likes to be told they
have done a great job. These five simple words go a long way to triggering the Principle of Liking. Praise is something
that when given genuinely and selectively is a truly valuable tool in building,
repairing and maintaining relationships with others. Therefore don’t throw
praise around all of the time so it becomes common and of little substance. Give
your praise when it is deserved, make it specific and give it genuinely. If at
work delivering praise directly is inappropriate consider influencing the
influencers and deliver the praise indirectly to the person’s boss, colleague
or friends and allow them to deliver the message for you.
The four
most important words – What do you think?
On the face of it you may ask, how
does this question relate to persuasion? The answer is, all too often people
make statements but they don’t ask questions. Firstly this is poor form because
it is more aligned to ordering rather than engaging and, secondly, when you
make statements you remove one very important element from the interaction –
the ability of someone to commit to something. The Principle of Consistency says we encounter
personal and interpersonal pressure to remain consistent with previous
commitments or decisions we have made. If you ask me a question and allow me to
answer, it provides me the opportunity to make a commitment; publicly voicing
my ideas and actively committing toward a course of action. In your next
meeting, think about the questions you ask. Craft well-constructed questions
and give others the opportunity to answer them. Telling someone what to do or
making statements does nothing to engage their intrinsic motivators to drive
the situation forward.
The three
most important words – Could you please…
This line is an interesting one,
firstly because the Principle of Reciprocity says we are obliged to
give back to those who have given to us first. A nuance to the principle is, if
you are struggling to build a relationship with someone, ask him or her to do
you a favor. In doing so they need to have a shift in thinking because we don’t
do things for people we don’t like.  Therefore
by asking them to do you a favor moves them in your direction ever so slightly and
allows for a relationship to commence.
The second point I would make is
to refine the statement. “Could you” and “Can you” are permission statements.
They seek to gain permission or acknowledgement. The problem is if I say to my eight-year-old
son, “Could you clean up your room?” and he says, “Yes,” is he actually
committing to clean his room or is he just saying, “Yes I can, but no I won’t.”?
Therefore in seeking to gain a
commitment to trigger the Principle of Consistency. ask people active questions
that gain a commitment such as “Will you…” then wait for the answer.
The two
most important words – Thank you.
Thanking someone is not only
polite, it’s an important element in building and maintaining healthy
relationships. Therefore when someone does something that you appreciate be
sure to tell them and acknowledge their contributions. Doing so invests in the
relationship and can trigger the Principle of Reciprocity.
The other thing is when someone
thanks you for something you have done you must learn to accept genuine thanks
differently. If someone delivers a heartfelt thank you and you say “no problem”
or “I would have done it for anyone” you are devaluing the relationship. You
are in effect saying, “You are not that important to me and neither is this
Therefore, from now on listen for
genuine thanks from others and recognise it as an opportunity to acknowledge
the relationship you have and highlight that it is not over. Anything you say
will be better than “no problem,” but you must do a better job of accepting
thanks when it is genuinely given.
The most
important word – We.
The fastest and easiest way to
describe a relationship is through the pronoun “we.” It highlights you are
working together and you have things in common. Listen to when people use “we”
in a conversation and they may just tell you when they start to see you are in
a functional, working relationship with them, all through the use of the word
One word of warning though; don’t
use “we” too early in a relationship or with someone you have just met to
describe the two of you – it can come off as not genuine and a tactic rather
than a true reflection of your relationship with the person. Let the
relationship build and use “we” when appropriate to do so.
The least
important word – I.
The biggest mistake I see when
reviewing emails, copy and websites for clients is the text is all about the
persuader and not about the person or group they are seeking to persuade. A
very simple test is to do a word search and see how many times you use “I” as
opposed to the other person’s name or even the words you, your or yours. If you
talk about yourself more than the other person or group of people you have
missed the mark.
The other thing is they should
always appear in your email before you do. I am not talking about their name in
the greeting but in the first line. If you start off with,

Hi Brian,

I want to
write you about the new product I am bringing to the market….

This is wrong – it’s all about
you. Instead put them and their needs first. Such as:

Hi Brian,

It was
great to have met you at the conference and to listen to your thoughts on the
new policy change impacting our organisation. You may be interested in a new
product we are launching. Based on your comments I think it will help you…..

Therefore for a bunch of short
sentences I will paraphrase my friend Peter and say, “There is a lot of POP in


Anthony McLean, CMCT

Influencers from Around the World – Hardwired Humans

This month our
Influencers from Around the World guest post comes from Anthony McLean,
Australia’s one and only Cialdini Method
Certified Trainer (CMCT®). We owe Anthony special
thanks for taking time to share with us because his busy schedule last month included
a trip to the States to meet with Dr. Cialdini. I know you’ll enjoy what
Anthony has to share.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Hardwired Humans
Why would
a Global Healthcare company like Philips undertake a change management program in
a zoo? The answer is they were following research revealed in Andrew O’Keefe’s book
Hardwired Humans.
Australia/New Zealand, Philips had undergone four change programs in as many
years preceding the unexpected global change program announced in 2009. Managing
director Harry van Dyk and HR director Jo Hilyard admitted the company was
suffering from “change fatigue” and a vastly different approach was required to
that used previously.
happened next was a little unexpected for many. Philips took 30 of its leaders
to Taronga Zoo in Sydney for a workshop that introduced them to the role basic
human instincts play in the workplace. The workshop looked at nine hardwired
instincts of humans and the leadership implications including the management of
change. In one part of the program the leaders were addressed by The Jane Goodall Institute and its chimpanzee program to demonstrate the social and
hierarchical structure off chimpanzees and the implications this has for modern
business. Unexpectedly for the participants they discovered the comparisons
between chimp and human social structures were numerous and provided a whole
new perspective on resolving workplace challenges.
One of
the key insights was that the conventional wisdom that claims people resist
change is wrong. We learned that humans, rather than being resistant to change,
are actually hardwired to avoid loss. Upon hearing about a change people
instantly screen their environment for the risk of loss. If we detect loss, we
resist the change. If we detect gain, we support the change. If we are unsure
about the impact of the change (and this is the big swinger), then we assume
loss. This means that for organizational change we often have people
unnecessarily erring toward loss and resistance, merely because people were
unable to make sense of the impact of the change for them at the moment they
first learned of it. (HR Monthly,
March 2011, p30)
The Persuasion Implications
The implications
for persuaders are clear. Through scarcity, we know that loss framing
is more persuasive than focusing on the benefits of a thing. The final part of
the above quote is very important because it highlights that under conditions in
which the risk cannot be assessed the subject will assume loss if they have no
other means to assess the risk.
You may
say great, scarcity is at play without you having to do anything to get people
to take action. In reality the targets of influence, under this assumed loss,
will employ coping mechanisms and strategies to protect themselves from that
loss rather than take healthy proactive workplace behaviours.
For example,
in a change management project if the targets of influence assume loss because
they have no other basis to assess the risk, they will then react against the
project, at times for no other reason than they associate loss (i.e., of
position, status, pay, etc.) with the project itself.
who has managed a change project will tell you the reluctance at times seems
unnecessary and ill informed; now you understand that it is a hardwired
response to the subjects’ inability to assess risk, so they assume loss and
react accordingly.
Steps to Counter Perceived Loss
If we
know that people scan for loss in any situation before moving forward, it makes
sense to manage this situation and brief the relevant staff fully on managing
the default towards loss and reacting against the situation unnecessarily. By
providing this briefing it is more likely to trigger reciprocity because you as the
change agent have given them the information they require to assess the risk
for themselves. Potentially it may even increase liking if you are then
required to work together and you have already opened up the channel for
cooperation. The warning however is, that left unattended to the development of
a loss aversion mindset, this reaction may cause the audience to take a stand
and trigger consistency, towards the negative
and this could be all the momentum that is required to drive consensus in the wrong direction.
So ask
yourself these questions: 
1. What risk is involved in your project, service or request? 
2. Is it real or perceived?
If the targets
of influence are unable to assess the personal risk of loss for themselves
(i.e., the risk is not clear or able to be easily understood), they will most
likely assume loss and react against you and your project, service or request.
Brief the
targets of influence appropriately so they can adequately assess the
risk from an informed position and give yourself every chance of success
rather than having to start the influence process on the back foot. It may also
be prudent to lobby support from others who already understand the project and
during the briefing ask them to discuss the implications for their business area
and support for the change. This simple step uses consensus to show others are
already moving in the direction of the project not away from it and as we know
when we are unsure of what we should do we look to the behaviour of others like
us to guide our decisions.

Anthony McLean, CMCT® 

From A to
Zoo, HR Monthly March 2011 p28-30
A (2011) Hardwired Humans Roundtable

Influencers from Around the World – Child-Like Influence

It’s always a treat to hear from Australia’s only Cialdini Method Certified Trainer® Anthony McLean. Anthony is the founder of the Social Influence Consulting Group. I follow him on several social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) and can tell you he’s doing outstanding work! If you’re a parent you’ll really appreciate this week’s post.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Child-Like Influence
Have you ever watched a child walk into a new environment such as a park, a playground or even a new school and wondered at how quickly they are able to integrate into the group and make new friends? I have three children and have noticed that my youngest, Ryan, never has a problem making new friends. No matter where we go, he always ends up talking to or playing with someone new. My eldest, Samara, possessed this skill when she was younger but now as a pre-teen it doesn’t come that easily to her anymore. Why?
The thing that Ryan does that Samara has stopped doing is always being willing to make the first move (reciprocity). He will walk up to a child on a swing and say hello. If someone is playing on a climbing gym he will go and join in and mimic the climbing style until he can master the apparatus for himself. As an ever more self-aware pre-teen, Samara is less likely to take the first step to talk to someone new. Instead she will look around for those she already knows and in a new environment that is not always possible.  So she sits back and waits.
It is with this simple observation that I started to reflect on persuasion and why some people are successful at it while others find it harder. Now I’m not suggesting there is just one factor involved, but a fundamental tenant for success is that great persuaders are nearly always willing to go first.
Just like Ryan, they will take the first step to say hello to someone and not wait for someone to say hello to them. They will offer their services and invest in others, often without being asked, thereby commencing a relationship where none existed before. They will uncover the things they have in common with others and use this common ground to forge a new relationship.
As a child, I moved to different schools several times, once in primary and once in secondary school. Both times in a sea of unknown faces I knew I needed a friend, and that they must be out there. Without exception I look back on the friends I have made in life and realize that those I approached were often the most like me (liking). They played the same games I did. They were my age. But it still took someone to take the first step. Sometimes it was me, sometimes it was them. Either way I am glad one of us made the effort.
So the implication for you is, regardless of where you are in the world, if you want to influence someone, take a leaf out of the book of a small child. Put your fear aside and make the first move.  If someone is walking toward you in hallway, if you look down and say nothing chances are they will do the same. But if in that same hallway with that same person you look up and say “Hi!,” chances are they will immediately smile and say hi back…but you have to go first!
Look around and find those who are most like you and start there. Uncover the things you have in common and start a conversation, you never know where it might lead.
Of course you don’t have to do this, but as I am now finding out with my daughter, if you don’t, it will quite possibly lead to comments like, “Nobody wants to talk to me,” or “Nobody wants to hang out with me.” As I am now gently pointing out to her, if you don’t make the first move chances are nothing will change. So stop complaining, get off the chair and do something about it. While this is often met with rolling eyes or protests of complaint, she is always happier at the end of it. 
Through this blog, Brian has brought you many great tools, concepts, ideas and research to help you influence others. The key to it all, though, is you must be willing to give it a try! 
Good luck and I will look out for you next time I am in the sandpit of life!

Influencers from Around the World – 5 Tips for Influencing Business with Email

This month’s Influencers from Around the World post comes to us from theother side of the world, from Australia’s only Cialdini Method Certified Trainer, Anthony McLean. Anthony heads up the Social Influence Consulting Group. I encourage you to connect with Anthony on FacebookLinkedIn and/or Twitter.

Brian, CMCT®
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.


5 Tips for
Influencing Business with Email


We all know that influencing via email can be a struggle.
In multicultural countries that do business transnationally this is especially
the case. So how do we set about influencing people, especially for business,
over email?
The Science of Persuasion provides us with a number of
hints in this regard:
1. Have a Cracker
of a Headline!
The problem with too many emails is that the subject line
is cryptic and doesn’t grab the attention of the recipient.
You know what subject lines are likely to get opened and
which ones won’t.  Those that answer the
“What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM) will get a greater open rate.  For example if I say,

“Here’s your opportunity to seize an influx of resources”

“Hey, I have a $100 for you.”

Which one would you open?
If you need to be a little more formal provide your
subject line with the data for identification and action such as:

FOR ATTENTION: Immediate Review of Budget

FOR APPROVAL: New Contract

REMINDER: Tender Submission Due Tuesday

Using reported facts from the media or headlines from the
news shows the email is timely and perhaps includes something important that
the recipient may have missed, such as the following:

“Reserve Bank Drop Rates – What it means for your mortgage”

“Media Regulation – the unintended impact on business”

President Obama’s team tested a number of subject lines until they struck on the one that tapped into the intrinsic motivation (Consistency) of their supporters but also showed what
they stand to lose (Scarcity) – all in four words “I will be outspent.”
But remember you can’t use the same headline over and over
again.  Test to find the ones that get
the best reaction but change them regularly.
Test new headlines and avoid becoming predictable.
2. Make it
A research study between college students found that those
who started a negotiation task over email with no period of interaction, i.e.,
they got straight down to business, ended up in a stalemate 30% of the time.
Those students who were first asked to introduce themselves and provide some
personal details including their hobbies, their chosen field of study, their
hometowns and so on, only stalled 6% of the time.  The thing to note here was the negotiation
task was exactly the same.  The only
difference was the group who was more successful at reaching a resolution
personalised the interaction before getting down to business.
Therefore even though you may be writing an email to a
customer that is no excuse for it to be overly formal and boring.  Research the person, use your relationship
data and personalise the email.  This
goes for the headline and the body of the email.
Write it as if you are writing to a friend.  Don’t use templates or long messages.  Make personalised comments at the outset that
shows you have made an effort for them and it isn’t a generic email (see point
3). For example,

Hi Brian,I hope you had a great weekend.  We finally got some sunny weather and all
that did was make it harder to come back to work today.

The reason for the mail is I read an article and
immediately thought of you.  Have a look
at paragraph three; it links perfectly with your current project.


Call me once you’ve read it, as there are some nuances I
want to walk you through so it doesn’t cost you anything.



Statistics on personal subject lines and messages show
that they can have twice the response rate of traditional messages.  One project was even successful in achieving
a 127% increase in open rates over their normal approach.
Finally sign the email.  A personal signature, even a digital one, has
a big impact on personalising your emails.
3. Give
In contacting your clients, think what is important to
them. What will make their lives easier? Why would they continue to open your
emails? Don’t subject them to mass email blasts. Take the time and show them
that you have made the effort to personally send them the email.
Give them content that is meaningful, customised and
expected. This effort will drive reciprocation in effort and cultivate a stronger
working relationship in the process.
Remember though, to be unexpected, don’t give all the
time.  Be selective who you share your
information with and highlight its exclusive nature when it is the case.  Give them what is truly valuable and they will
give you business and loyalty, but you need to go first though.
If you have a large database, apply the Pareto or 80/20
Rule.  For the top 20% of your database,
i.e., those who engage, buy more products, advocate your services, etc.,
personalise your approach to them and give them more.  For the other 80% a standard one-size-fits
approach may apply.  If however someone
steps up to the 20%, let them know, make them feel special and tell them you
would like to give them a more personalised service because of how important
they are to you.  Your emails will do the
4.Call to action
Your email should always have a call to action making it
clear what you want the recipient to do. Whether it is in the subject line or
in the body of the report, it must also always be in the final sentence of the
Never create a call to action and then take them off in a
different tangent, as the call to action will be lost.

Hi Jill,I am really looking forward to your briefing on Thursday.

In preparation for the meeting can you please provide a
copy of the presentation for the leadership team no later than 2 p.m. on
Wednesday along with a short video synopsis explaining your take on the current
staff leave policy?

I hope your new team is performing well and really
embracing the new technology platforms we have introduced.  It is making a
big difference to other parts of the business.

T.H.E. Boss

The final comment about technology can open the door for a
conversation on that issue while the actual focus of the email was introduced
in paragraph two – the presentation on the company’s leave policy.
Always leave the reader primed to carry out the action you
have requested.  If it is asking for
business we would recommend not doing that over email because if they say “No”
it is harder for you to make a concession thereby reducing the chances they
will reciprocate and make a concession and accept your alternative.
5. Time Your
Sometimes the greatest decider of your email being opened
and action taken upon it is the time of the day it is sent. The best indicator
is to review when the recipient has most frequently opened and/or replied to
emails in the past.
Research has shown the best times of day for emails being
opened are as follows:
8 a.m.
9 a.m.
3 p.m.
8 p.m.
Further we also know that emails have the greatest open
and action rate in the first hour after they are sent.  Therefore when sending important emails ensure
you send them in the hour prior to the above listed times but focus on morning
and early afternoons for most attention.
Remember these are open times for your recipient so if you
have a global database perhaps scheduling software will help you to land at
just the right time.
Please note when
opening emails at 8 p.m. you may get opened but if you are asking for
considerable action it may be held over until the following day and then in the
morning the newer emails are now sitting on top of yours perhaps rendering it
to inbox oblivion.
Finally you must review your efforts and ensure that the
strategy employed achieved the desired results.  If it didn’t, why?  What can you improve
for next time?
Sometimes “the best email is a phone call.”
However if you need to send an email, grab their
attention, personalise it as much as appropriate but don’t overdo it.
Give only things that are meaningful and ensure the call to action is clear.We can employ all six of Dr. Cialdini‘s Principles of Persuasion in
the body of the email; however the above 5 tips for influencing business with
email will give you the structure to start and test you email success.
Anthony, CMCT®


Influencers from Around the World – Treat Your Reputation Like Gold


The September Influencers from Around the World post comes all the way from down under, from Australia’s only Cialdini Method Certified Trainer Anthony McLean. Anthony just started a new venture called Social Influence Consulting Group. You can connect with Anthony on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.
Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Treat Your Reputation Like Gold!



How are with staying on top of things?  Are you across social media?  Do you hide away from it?  Well this next big change is going to drag you along whether you like it or not!



Imagine a world where:



  • You are hired based on your performance in online forums.
  • Where banks review your online reputation as well as your credit rating.
  • Where good references in making payments on time like renting a house can assist in renting a car.

In the reputation-driven world of the future, before anyone meets or does business with you, they will not only Google you but assess your online reputation through the many tools available to display this data.
And just as good reviews and referrals will drive people in your direction, negative comments will also impact you like never before.

Your online trustworthiness is your next big business commodity. The thing is, Reputation Marketing is not a thing of the future, it is here, now!
Your Reputation Data is already being expertly mined and collated for all to see.  Those with good reputations, as evidenced by likes, recommendations, endorsements, etc., will in the next six to 12 months see themselves gravitating towards page 1 on Google because they can be trusted and people like to interact with them.  Those with questionable reputations will fall
by the wayside just as it happens in the offline world.

Your digital reputation is fast becoming a guide to your trustworthiness; both in the digital and physical realms.
Wired magazine
reported in its September 2012 issue, “The value of reputation is not a new concept to the online world: think star ratings on Amazon, PowerSellers on eBay or reputation levels on games such as World of Warcraft.  The difference today
is our ability to capture data from across an array of digital services.  With every trade we make, comment we leave, person we ‘friend,’ spammer we flag or badge we earn, we leave a trail of how well we can or can’t be trusted.”
In the Principles of Persuasion Workshop, we know that when we are unsure of what we should do in a certain situation we look to a recognized Authority to guide our behaviour.  Critical to being a credible authority, however is not only our expertise but also our trustworthiness.  Therefore managing and marketing your reputation has just become far more important in persuading others because it will be tracked and easily found in the reputation centric world of the future.
In marketing now, a good online reputation will easily establish your authority, however if it is not managed well and is tarnished by negative comments, reviews, activities or statements, this will be made available for others to see and judge.
Likewise, when have no other ability to assess a person or their request we look to the behaviour of others like us to guide our decisions.  This is known as consensus or social proof.
A new study conducted by Berkley Economists Michael Anderson and Jeremy Magruder (published this month’s Economic Journal)found that across 328 restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, if crowd-sourced reviews moved a restaurant from a 3.0 to a 3.5 star rating, this would increase a restaurant’s chance of selling out during prime dining times from 13% to
34%.  Moving from 3.5 to 4.0 stars increased the chance of selling out during prime dining times by another 19 percentage points and these changes occur even though restaurant quality held constant.
The study reaffirmed that crowd-sourced reviews have a bigger impact when there is a lack of alternative information available by which to judge a restaurant’s quality. “If a restaurant has a Michelin star or it appears in the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of Top 100 Restaurants in the Bay Area, the Yelp star becomes irrelevant,” said Magruder.
Therefore Consensus (the opinion of others) is
trumped by Authority (proof you are
credible and trustworthy)!
You need to start managing your reputation.  From reviews to referrals, to customer service, to being mindful of the comments you and/or your staff make.
Get good comments, solicit referrals, and provide mechanisms for others to praise you, but stay on top of the negative feedback.  Counter it.
Apologise where necessary.  But
ignore it at your peril!
“We are only at day one in the whole idea of global reputation,” says Brian Chesky, cofounder and CEO of the peer-to-peer marketplace Airbnb.  “By the end of the decade, a good online reputation could be the most valuable currency in your possession”.
Anthony, CMCT

The Worst Kind of Loss

In this month’s Influencers from Around the
World post we get the distinct privilege of hearing from Anthony McLean, CMCT.
Anthony is the only Cialdini Method Certified Trainer in Australia. His
background is unique, having spent more than a dozen years as a police sergeant
and an intelligence officer, he now uses the skills he learned on the job in
his study of behavioural intelligence, the role of emotions and most
importantly, influence and the science of persuasion. He’s currently the
Executive Director of NewIntelligence.
You can connect with Anthony on Facebook,
and Twitter.
Helping You Learn to Hear
The Worst Kind of Loss
We are all familiar with Dr Cialdini’s Principle
of Scarcity
and the notion that it motivates people to act to avoid losing something of
value.  As a universal rule that guides
behaviour, it is as prevalent in Australia as elsewhere around the world. 
But is all loss the same? 
A study found that 75% of people polled
said they experienced greater regret for the things in life “they did not do” over the regrettable
actions “they did do” (Gilovich and
A second study asked people between the
ages of 20-64 if they could live their life over to do something different
would they rectify a regrettable inaction or a regrettable action.
Overwhelmingly the study found people would rectify a regrettable inaction
(Kinnier and Metha).
Anyone who has experienced a situation in
which they did not act and later came to regret this inaction knows the
sensation of opportunity lost.  This is
opposed to the regret associated with a decision we have made but due to the
consequences that often involve loss we come to regret the active decision made.
Personally I know that I reflect
differently on the regret of not taking the opportunity to live overseas when I
had the chance, over decisions that I have made that later proved to be a loss,
such as when I sold a property for twice what I paid for it only to find out it
would double in value again within a few short years with absolutely no
improvements made.
When we add time into the equation we find
that people who were asked what their biggest regret of the past week was, they
were more likely to report things they had done. Those asked about the biggest
regrets over their life would report regrettable inaction, i.e., the things
they did not do.
An explanation for this is when focusing on
the present we are perhaps still in damage control, looking for ways to rectify
a regrettable action. Therefore in the short-term regrettable actions can be
remedied to some degree.  Whereas with
missed opportunities or regrettable inaction the opportunity is often fleeting
and difficult to recapture and therefore there may never be an opportunity for
a second chance. 
If you are considering an action but fear
the consequences, as part of your decision consider how difficult it will be to
reclaim ground through apologies, subsequent action, etc., if it goes wrong.
Then consider the consequences if you fail
to act altogether and ask yourself, “What are the chances of this opportunity
ever coming around again?”
If you get your decision wrong, you will
have an emotional event such as anger, embarrassment, etc., but this will fade
with time. If you fail to act and you later regret this inaction you are far
more likely to experience despair and other associated emotions that are more
likely to persist (Gilovich, Medvec and Kahneman).
Therefore in the words of Ekhart Tolle,Any action is often better than
no action
, because we can often recover from an action gone bad;
inaction can haunt us for life.
The caveat on this of course is you are all
rational-thinking people so actions and inactions in your life will be guided
by your own personal circumstances. A decision not to act is still an action,
so regret the action taken and learn from the decision’s failure rather than
ponder what may have been.
If you have not seen it I would encourage
you to watch the video 50 People: 1
Question Gallway Ireland 2011.
In this video participants are asked about
their biggest life regret and it is interesting to look at the regrettable
actions, inactions and those who say they have no regrets. If you’d like to watch
the video click
If you’re viewing this by email and want to leave a comment click here.  
Anthony McLean, CMCT

Influencers from Around the World: Secrets of an Aussie Debt Collector

This month’s Influencers from Around the World article comes to us from down under courtesy of Anthony McLean, CMCT. Like me, Anthony is a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer, the only one in Australia. Reach out to him on Facebook or LinkedIn, or feel free to leave a comment below.

Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Secrets of an Aussie Debt Collector

I was recently at a social function where I met a guy who, from the outset, sparked my curiosity. When asked what he did he simply replied, “debt collection.” After a bit more discussion he said something that really intrigued me, “I only work with two types of clients; those who can’t pay and those who won’t pay.

This comment resonated with me because I immediately thought of the complex influence problems we encounter. I thought the most difficult situations often involve a target of influence who believes they can’t say YES or simply won’t say YES.
I probed further into the world of our debt collector and found that he not only ran a very successful business but the more he spoke, the more it became obvious he was intuitively employing all of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s principles of influence in some way.
Of note: Dr. Cialdini originally discovered these principles by watching those masters of influence in a covert manner and then reverse engineered their strategies and validated them through research. Just as Cialdini had done, I quickly realized I was in the presence of an artisan; someone who was effectively employing Abraham Maslow’s fourth stage of learning, unconscious competence. Influence was a part of this guy; he just did it and was successful because of it. We arranged to meet to discuss this further and below are the secrets of a very successful debt collector.
Those who can’t pay
We started off agreeing that those who were happy to pay never made it onto his books so we would commence with those who believe they can’t pay.
Our debt collector (DC) started by saying the introduction to the phone call is critical. He had to be “firm but fair.” DC commences by introducing himself by title and appropriately demonstrating his knowledge in the field. He knows that if he is to influence those who believe they can’t pay he has to get their side of the story in order to understand what happened and, if possible, why. Going too hard will shut them down and that’s not to anyone’s advantage. With the introduction over he commences by getting their side of the debt story and uses this context to start to work through strategies to see how they can start to pay. DC highlights to the debtor that even small amounts are okay and reassures them that others don’t have to know about this situation. This second element is critical because for many “saving face” is integral to the process.
DC says that truthfully telling the debtor that “others have told him that they begin to feel better once they start” often opens the door to further discussions. He stated he highlights that this simple step will also stave off any legal proceedings and will give the debtor time to work through the problem in many respects under their own terms.
DC said that while working through options he avoids putting debtors in a position in which they feel they have to say No”. Once a pathway is identified he gets the debtor to voluntarily commit to a repayment start date and to outline how they will go about making that first payment and the subsequent payments after that.
What DC has found is those who can’t pay are far more receptive after providing their side of the story. This also allows a time and space for him to outline the various consequences and to highlight the options they have open to them. Of course DC said he always finishes by commenting on what the debtor honestly stands to lose by not going down this path, including the widespread attention that is often drawn to public hearings like this.  He’d added his approach is unlike many in his industry and his staff is recruited because of their ability to engage with and talk to people, not just make demands and threats upfront.
During our conversation I was able to quickly note where DC was intuitively using the principles. They were:
Introduce himself with the title of debt collector.
Engage in a very different way to what people expect thus allowing for the contrast to be drawn to other debt collectors and even the debt recovery efforts of the initial service provider.
Providing debtors the opportunity to tell their side of the story and allowing them to do so.
Allowing debtors to make their own choices with one alternatively ensuring confidentiality.
Providing flexibility in repayment options and terms.
Cooperating with the debtor to find solutions allowing for payment rather than making demands.
Genuinely looking at the situation from the debtor’s perspective and letting them know that it was not DC’s job to make this any harder but to in fact help them resolve it without causing further hardship.
By highlighting that others like them have felt better once they commence the payment plan.
Introducing himself by title and organization and quickly explaining the role.
Demonstrating knowledge of options and legislation in the introduction
Carefully ensuring the debtor doesn’t commit to “No” in the early stages thereby taking a stand not to pay.
Getting the debtor to voluntarily commit to a payment plan with a start date and method of payment of their choosing.
Highlight what they stand to lose by this becoming public or by going to court.
Those who won’t pay
DC informed me that as far as those who won’t pay, it’s more a situation in which they often have the capacity to pay, but felt wronged in some way. This could mean they didn’t receive the service or goods they initially paid for or they weren’t told the whole truth about the product and/or service initially. With this history of the service provider under-delivering or failing to deliver, often the debtor has not and will not take proactive steps to repay the debt. In many instances the debtor is happy for the matter to come to a head, such as to go to court, so they have a viable platform to vent their disapproval and highlight the injustice they feel has been perpetrated against them.
At the other end of
this continuum however are those that have learned that if they don’t pay the debt there is a strong chance in the settlement phase the service provider or debt collector will discount the debt in some way to get the debt cleared. Alternatively, if they go to court there is a chance they will have the debt admonished. Either way, by holding out, they “win.”
DC told me that once he identifies someone in the “won’t pay” group he doesn’t waste any further effort and simply serves a summons on them and commences legal action. DC said he does this because history tells him that if they won’t pay they either want their day in court, in which case he gives it to them, or they want to stall on the smallest detail and/or amount to ensure they “win.” Neither of these is worth DC’s time to engage in this lengthy and often non-productive interaction.
DC then stated that in his business only 3-5% of his cases progress by way of summons to court proceedings and almost 100% of this group were from the “won’t pay” sector. Knowing this allows DC to recognize that for 95-97% of his cases, if he or his staff invest time in the debtor and create an environment in which they can work together they will usually get a positive result. The contrast here to others in the industry is evident in that the stereotype suggests that the debt collector will stand-over, threaten or coerce the debtor, making them feel they “have to” repay the debt today and building resentment or resistance.
DC further backed this up with some more statistics saying that when he expanded his business from Australia to New Zealand, by using this approach he was able to immediately achieve a 50% payment of debt level whereas the previous provider could only achieve a 22% repayment rate.
In any influence situation we deal with three types of people:
1.      Those who are willing to entertain our messages/requests/proposals, or at least willing to engage with us and provide an opportunity to influence them.
2.    Those who reject our messages/requests/proposals because while they may be able to be influenced, they feel they are not in a position to be influenced, i.e., because of organizational structure, financial constraints, perceived conflict of interest and so on.
3.    Those who reject our messages/requests/proposals because they choose not be influenced. Whether it is because the outcome may challenge their status or expertise, they may feel wronged in some way and are reacting against us, or they have surrounded themselves with barriers or obstacles so you can’t actually get to them to influence them.
It is important in any influence situation to do your homework and know as much as you can about the target of influence. In DC’s case this is done partly before picking up the phone and partly while on the phone. What DC shows us though is even for those who think they can’t do something, by working with them, doing the small things well, you allow the opportunity for things to at least be considered and influence to come to play. Occasionally the person we are influencing may ultimately not be able to say YES but they will know the person who can.
For those who won’t be influenced because of choice, culture or organization design, you as the agent of influence need to reflect on the time and effort that will be required to break through the barriers and to ask yourself can you spend your influence efforts better elsewhere. If you engage with someone else, whether it is a competitor, a colleague of theirs or even one of their own influencers and they don’t have a seat at the table, scarcity is a great motivator.
Anthony McLean, CMCT
Changing the way people think