How to Change Someone's Mind

How to Change Someone's Mind

Changing someone’s mind is one of the most difficult tasks for showroom owners, sales professionals, designers and just about anyone else.  Everyone wants to convince others to see it their way.  Showroom sales professionals and designers want to convince prospects that their showroom and skill set is the perfect combination for their new dream kitchen or bath. BKBG Preferred Vendor partners typically want to convince showroom owners to change their lines and select their product and services from their current suppliers.  Small children want to change their parents’ minds so they can eat more sweets or watch more television.  In politics, one side always wants to convince the other side that their position is the right one.

Why is changing someone’s opinion or decision so difficult?  University of Pennsylvania professor and noted author Jonah Berger explains in his book The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind that in any sales process or negotiation when one party tries to change the mind of the other party, there is a natural tendency for the seller to push harder, which invariably results in the prospective buyer pushing back.  Someone who tries to sell you something that you don’t necessarily want or need activates a defensive mechanism.  If you receive an unsolicited email, 99% of the time you are likely to delete it.  If you are approached by a salesperson in your showroom who is trying to convince you to change, most likely the bubble over your head is listing all the reason why he or she is wrong.  If team members comes to you for a raise you do not believe they deserve, your initial thoughts might be all the reasons why the raise is not justified. There’s little chance that your mind will be changed.

Control is a primary reason why it is so difficult to change someone mind.  Humans want to be the masters of their own destinies.  When someone threatens your ability to control a situation, you push back.  Berger uses Tide and Tide Pods to illustrate this dynamic.  Tide Pods are concentrated tablets that provide the exact amount of detergent for a load of laundry.  Instead of guessing or filling a cap with liquid detergent, Tide made it easy for consumers, eliminating the guesswork by enabling consumers to simply to drop a pod in the washing machine.  Tide never imagined that teenagers would eat the pods and promote others to eat the pods on social media.  What does Tide do? It responded as most responsible businesses would.  Tide issued warnings, advising teens of the dangers of eating laundry detergent.   Tide even hired pro football player Rob Gronkowski to make a video in which he states, “Look, never eat Tide Pods.  Terrible idea.  No, no, no, don’t eat Tide Pods.”  

What happened?  Tide’s efforts backfired. After telling the world of the dangers of eating Tide Pods, Internet searches for Tide Pods increased by more than 400%.  Visits to poison control centers also increased by more than a 100 fold.  Many consumers/teens took Tide’s warnings as recommendations to do the exact thing that they were told not to do.

Berger points out even in situations where someone may want to buy a new product or service, they may be reluctant to do so because he or she may think that the only reason to change is because the salesperson wants them to change. Most initial reactions to anything typically are negative.  What image comes to mind when you hear of a reaction to a medicine?  The impression is almost never positive.  Berger offers four techniques to reduce reactance.  One is to provide a menu of choices.  Berger explains that when you only give someone one option and tell them how great they it is, they often spend a lot of time thinking about all of the reasons that’s wrong with your suggestion.  

When you tell a prospective client that your showroom is the best in the region, that’s what they expect you to say. It’s similar to companies that boast outstanding customer service. They are not going to admit that their customer service is adequate, mediocre or that it stinks.  Rather than one option, give those whose minds you are trying to change multiple or at least two choices, Berger claims.   Rather than thinking about all the reasons why someone does not like what you are suggesting, giving two options forces the person to determine which choice they prefer.  This results in spending less time thinking about what’s bad and more time figuring out which option they prefer.  “Give them two or three, maybe they don’t pick exactly the one you wanted, but a least they pick one at the end of the day.”

Berger claims that providing more than one option creates a guided choice that offers the person whose mind you want to change the autonomy and freedom to choose and shape their own journey.  

Asking questions instead of issuing mandates is another effective technique to convince someone to change their mind.  Instead of telling your teams that they have to work harder, consider asking questions such as what should our brand stand for?  Do we want to be a good showroom or a great showroom?  The next question is what will it take for us to become a great showroom?  By asking questions, you change the role of your team members from listeners to active participants.  When team members provide suggestions or ideas, they are more likely to commit to the actions necessary to be a great property.  Berger states, “Rather than pushing, or pressuring, or telling people what they should do, questions are a great way to allow for autonomy.” Providing options or asking questions allows you to shape the decision making journey and give permission to the person whose mind you want to change agree with you. It’s guiding and not forcing.

We tend to be attached to what we already do, which makes it difficult to convince someone to change from product A to product B.  Berger notes that we tend to go to the same restaurants, vacation at the same places and use the same service providers because they feel safe.  The challenge of convincing someone to change is compounded by the fact that most people fear the new or unknown.  Changing a product or service provider comes with a cost of time, effort and/or money.  One secret to overcoming the challenges of fear of the unknown and status quo bias is to lower upfront costs.  Dropbox is a perfect example.  It’s free for X amount of storage space.  Need more space, here’s what it costs.  And most people will pay the premium because they know how well Dropbox works.  Determine what you can do to lower the cost of entry or trying your product or service.  

How can a kitchen and bath showroom lower the barrier?  Invite prospects to a cooking demonstration or renovation seminar at your showroom.  Brainstorm with your teams other offers that lower the barriers and provides a no to low-cost offering that allows prospects to experience your showroom first-hand.

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