Why do you care about becoming more influential?

In a moment, I’ll share the simple 6-step process behind Instant Influence.

First though, I want to ask a question that might help you get more from it.

What would it mean to you to increase your influence?

What might you get out of it — for yourself, your friends and loved ones, your community?

I have something really personal that I don’t think I’ve written about yet.  In fact, I’m still processing it, so this could get a little raw.  But it’s totally relevant.

Last year, one of my best friends died.

I had actually been out of touch for a few years.  Only connecting here and there.

But he was someone who played a HUGE role in my life throughout college.  And helped shape me into the adult I am today.  I still consider him one of my closest friends — a friend for life.

We lived in the same dorms and apartments throughout most of college.

We had many of the same friends.

We took the same classes, and would get into intellectual debates off-hours, for fun.

(He was one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known.  And a bit twisted, in a way I appreciated.)

And we partied pretty hard.

When I graduated, married my wife, and moved across the country, my life changed quite a bit.  I laid off the partying, settled down a bit, and started a family plus my career.

He stayed single, went to grad school, and eventually ended up in China teaching English.

And I don’t know how hard he partied, but apparently he kept drinking.  He had a brain that didn’t turn off — and suffered from insomnia.  So he self-medicated with alcohol, and it took a toll on his body.

After fighting the addiction for the last few years, apparently he was on the verge of getting clean.  He had a flight booked, home to the U.S., to have some quiet time to focus on healing.

Then before he could leave China, his body gave out.  His colleagues found him collapsed in an empty classroom after school one day.  He’d had a heart attack, because of the alcohol.

The things you wish you could take back…

I wish I could go back in time and talk to him.  Honor our friendship more, after we’d moved apart.  At least stayed in touch.

And maybe, maybe, I wish I would have been someone who he could have turned to for more protection and support as he fought to deal with his alcohol addiction.

And, I wish I’d known of the power of Instant Influence, then, to help him out.

And here’s where I transition out of that story, and into the normal focus on marketing, selling, influence, and persuasion…

Because this process was actually developed by a psychologist specializing in emergency medicine, at Yale.

And while you can use this same process to close your next sale…

It was actually originally developed at the request of ER doctors.  To inspire alcoholics with health emergencies to seek care after being released from the hospital.  In the seven or so minutes each patient gets care.  While the patient was at least semi-inebriated.

And…  It worked.

Then, it worked in other tests.  With parole officers, supervising parolees and trying to get them to stay straight and not end up right back in prison.  With at-risk teenagers.  With psychiatric patients.  To get lifelong smokers to stop.

And on, and on.

Plus business managers, salespeople, and more.  Oh, and parents who want to get their kids to cooperate and clean up after themselves!

I don’t know why you want to become more influential.  Or what you’d use this process for.  Or who you could help and serve.

But even in my earliest experiments with the 6-step process you’re about to learn, I’ve learned it can be pretty dang effective.

First, these three principles lay the foundation of instant influence…

Principle 1: No one absolutely has to do anything. The choice is always yours.

I got into this a bit in yesterday’s article on The #1 Rule of Persuasion.

You can’t make anyone think, believe, or do anything they don’t want to do.  (Aside from sticking a gun to their head, but we’re not going there.)

It’s universal that we all want to make our own choices.

And so any attempt to influence must first and foremost be rooted in the other person’s autonomy.

You must honor and support their desire and ability to make their own decision.

You can be a trusted advisor in that decision.  But the moment you try to push them in any direction, they will reject you — even potentially choosing the opposite course of action, knowing it’s not in their best interests.

Principle 2: Everyone already has enough motivation.

If someone knows they want to do something differently, they have the motivation to do so.

Now, that may not always translate into action.  And sometimes the MOST motivated people will still not do what they are motivated to do…  While only mildly motivated people are able to pull it off.

But if someone wants to do something, they know why they want to do it, and have enough motivation to take action.

The book does offer the science that backs this up, too.

Principle 3: Focusing on any tiny bit of motivation works much better than asking about resistance.

This one is HUGE for me, personally.

Our default is often to identify objections.  And as a salesperson, it doesn’t hurt to at least be aware of the objections and know how to deal with them.

But if you spend all your time asking, “Why don’t you want to buy this?,” your prospect is going to rehearse in their head all the reasons why they don’t want to.

Likewise for any other kind of negative question that focuses on resistance.

On the other hand, if you focus on even the smallest reasons why they would want to go forward with something, people will spend their time focusing on that, and it will motivate action.

I’ll write tomorrow about how I’ve started using this principle on myself — for productivity.

Now let’s get to the 6-step Instant Influence process — a framework for a conversation that can create massive influence in as little as 7 minutes.

The Simple 6-Step Instant Influence Process…

If this resonates with you, I strongly encourage you to get the book, Instant Influence by Michael Pantalon, because it does go much deeper…

Step 1: Ask “Why Might You Change?”

Notice that’s where I started this article?

Because this is a one-sided conversation, I gave my own reason, with a story I really didn’t intend to write about until I was writing and screamed at me as a reason why for me.

But I didn’t tell you why you should become more influential.  I only asked you to think about your reasons.

The Instant Influence process asks your influencee the reasons why they MIGHT consider whatever specific change you’re discussing.

“I wonder if you have reasons you might choose to use our services.”

“Why might you as for my help with this marketing campaign?”

“Have you thought about why you might want to do coaching?”

…  And so on.

Paraphrase.  But the goal of this first step is to get them to talk about THEIR reasons.  Because it’s THEIR decision.  And the only reason they’re going to make this decision is because it’s what THEY WANT to do.

Step 2: Ask “How ready are you to change on a scale of 1 to 10?”

This is a bit of an unusual question — and there’s a good reason for it.  When people get usual questions, they can give their usual answers without thinking.  But if they get unusual questions, they have to really think before they answer.

So you actually ask them to rank their willingness to do something specific.

You can be lighthearted about it.

You can be self-effacing, admitting it’s a silly thing to ask.

But then ask them their willingness to move forward.

“Can I ask you a silly question about this?  And all I ask is that you answer honestly.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to move forward with our services?”

“Okay, we’ve talked about me helping you with this campaign — can I ask on a scale of 1 to 10, how ready are you to move forward with that today?”

“So we’ve talked about why you might choose to do coaching — on a scale of 1 to 10, how ready are you to give it a try?”

Then encourage them to actually throw out the number, because it’s important for the next step.

Step 3: Ask “Why didn’t you pick a lower number?”

Note that says LOWER number.  Not higher.  This is counter-intuitive, so I’ll explain.

If you’re asking for why they didn’t pick a higher number, you’re asking them to give their reasons why they wouldn’t do it.

But by asking for why they didn’t pick a lower number, you’re asking them to say why they actually have some motivation.  Which, again, is all about focusing on their reasons why.

(The book does talk about what to do if they pick 1 — the lowest number — but I’m not going to go into that here.)

Once you clarify that yes, you do want them to tell you why they didn’t pick a lower number, they’ll start to sell themselves on the reasons for action.

Step 4: Ask “Imagine you’ve changed, What would the positive outcomes be?”

This is classic future pacing, if you’re familiar with the term.

You’re getting them to imagine a situation in the future, where they’ve successfully done whatever it is you and they are looking for them to do.  And you’re getting them to imagine how things are better because of it.

And this is pretty profound.

Through this process, they’ve talked about why they’d want to do this.  Then they are telling you the details of the outcome they’re hoping for as a result.

If you consider every buying decision as looking for the solution to a problem, they’re telling you what they want in a solution — what has to be true for them to know the solution actually solved their problem.

Step 5: Ask “Why are these outcomes important to you?”

And we go even deeper.

We’re looking to get them to explain their reason why they’d want the solution to meet those specific criteria.

Why is that important to them?

And here, Instant Influence goes even deeper.  Dr. Pantalon says you should actually use the “5 Whys” process that came out of Toyota.  Essentially, you keep asking them why up to five total times, until you feel like you’ve uncovered the deepest motivation.

So let’s say someone is looking for career coaching.

And you’ve gone through and figured out that they want to move forward with coaching because they want to develop their freelance business.  They’re still not sure about hiring you as a coach yet, so they say their at a 6, but it wasn’t lower because they do think you could probably help them be more productive and do a better job of keeping their schedule full.

They tell you that the outcome they’re looking for is to have their schedule full of clients who respect them and treat them well, and are willing to pay for quality freelance help.

“And why [#1] is that important to you?”

“Because I need to earn a good living at this.”

“And why [#2] is earning a good living as a freelancer important to you?”

“Because I need to be able to support and help my family, and this is my one shot.”

“And why [#3] do you have to succeed with this shot, to help your family?”

“Because we have a baby on the way and even though I’ve done okay so far my partner has told me I really need to be making more, or else I’ll have to go back and get a job.”

“And why [#4] don’t you want to go back and get a job, even if it’d be the easy way to help with your family?”

“Because I’m not f*cking going to get trapped in another cubicle job!  I’m an entrepreneur, and if I don’t make this work, I’ll feel like I’ve failed myself.”

…  And that’s probably as deep as you need to go (even though you could ask another why).

So you reflect back.

“So you’re telling me that you’re looking at coaching today so you don’t have to feel like a failure who couldn’t make freelancing work…  That you don’t want to go back to working for someone else, trapped in a cubicle?”

Step 6: Ask “What is the next step, if anything?”

Here you ask them to make their own plan.

Or, specifically, to define a small, simple action step they can take to move forward.

The smaller and easier to complete, the better.

In fact, if they try to make it too big, you should pull them back.  (There are lots of good examples in the book.)

Think of the proverb that “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”

You want them to enjoy the success of taking that step, instead of focusing on the long journey.

In a selling conversation, it might be a little different, because you do want to complete the order.  And if they’re absolutely chomping at the bit, you don’t necessarily want to walk them back.

But you can instead focus on the smallest step.

So, for example, they might say…

“Okay, sign me up for coaching.  Take my money.”

And you might counter with…

“Hold on there…  Let’s just start by making the next appointment.  Do you have your calendar in front of you?”

And you’d walk them through the process of scheduling the next appointment BEFORE taking their payment information.  Because that’s a low-threshold step that they can take that reinforces their commitment to action.

It also feels good because it’s a bit of a takeaway sale, where you’re not immediately taking their money as soon as they’re willing.

Final thoughts…

If you read the Instant Influence book, you’ll get a ton of examples of how this conversation can go, in many situations.

There are very few direct examples of selling.  Or parenting.  But the system is so clear and adaptable, that you’ll find it equally applies to both.

Plus it forms a groundwork for how to be more influential in any conversations, including ones where you’re not directly looking for an outcome such as stimulating a financial transaction.

And tomorrow, I’ll share how I’m using the process on myself, to create productivity on demand.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr