How To Achieve Maximum Influence

“Every generation seeks the Holy Grail of instantaneous influence—in the information age we seek the sound bite that moves the masses—but it doesn’t exist. Human behavior is influenced over time, within a context, and by focusing primarily on how people feel.”
Anette Simmons, The Story Factor

Good companies place a strong focus on how customers perceive them. Great companies know they also have to understand how customers perceive themselves.

Look at any survey or attend any customer interview and you see a slew of questions that make the customer evaluate the company: How satisfied are you? When was the last time you made a purchase? How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or family member?

Sure, many of these surveys use some of the questions to create demographic and “psychographic” categories, But, these categories rarely reflect the way people view themselves and feel in the context of buying from the company. They’re abstract generalizations that can help figure out where to place advertising, but they ignore the emotional context of the real individuals actually buying from you.

If you don’t understand their hearts, you can’t win their hearts. And, if you can’t win their hearts, you can’t influence their buying decisions.

Next time you engage in collecting customer data rather than make the survey or interview all about you, also make it about them. You’ll learn valuable strategic information, and you’re likely to see your customers in a new light: as people rather than numbers. And, people are much easier to sell to than numbers.

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