There’s currently big buzz around the word “pre-suasion.” It comes from the new book, “Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade” by famed social psychologist Robert Cialdini. In it, he calls attention to the paramount importance of the moment before you ask someone for what you want and how you can use it to achieve your aim.
“The best persuaders,” he writes, “become the best through pre-suasion—the process of arranging for recipients to be receptive to a message before they encounter it.”
There are three anecdotes that perfectly illustrate how such a technique might benefit the pool and spa industry.
In the first, Cialdini describes how a friend, who works as a consultant, often would encounter fee resistance from potential clients when bidding competitively on projects. He never felt comfortable padding the budget to absorb the inevitable pushback to cut 10- to 15 percent of the cost. So if, in the end, he agreed to cuts, it resulted in profit margins too small to support his business. (This, no doubt, is a situation familiar to many in our industry.)
But one day, he stumbled on a solution. After giving his usual presentation, he happened to make a joke before naming his $75,000 fee: “As you can tell, I’m not going to be able to charge you a million dollars for this.” The client laughingly agreed and the meeting resulted in a signed contract with no opposition. Simply presenting a comparison of fees, no matter how unrealistic, eliminated challenges to the price.
The second instance involved a top-performing salesperson working for a high-end home alarm manufacturer. The salesman, Jim, used a very specific strategy during at-home sales calls. After establishing a rapport with the homeowner and settling them into taking a 10-minute safety test, he would slap his forehead and say, “Oh, I forgot some really important information in my car, and I need to get it. I don’t want to interrupt the test; so would you mind if I let myself out and back into your home?” They would undoubtedly consent. Often, they would even give Jim the key to the front door. And later, they would give Jim the sale.
Why did this work? It had to do with trust. “Who would you let walk in and out of your house on their own?” Jim asks. “Only someone you trust.” By doing this, he became a trustworthy person in their eyes, and it drastically boosted his sales.
Lastly, there’s the story of a man who was phenomenal at getting job offers. The secret? As soon as he arrived for the interview, he would say, “Before we begin, I wonder if you would answer a question for me. Why did you invite me to interview today? What was it about my resume that attracted you to my candidacy?” This tactic forced the interviewer to hone in on the man’s positive traits going into the meeting, and instantly cast him in a more favorable light against other candidates.
While reflecting on this issue’s theme, it occurred to me that mastering the art of “pre-suasion” could very well be the secret to our industry’s successful future. Perhaps by harnessing this powerful tool, we can create opportunities to change the public mindset into embracing the myriad benefits of pool ownership, thereby generating a continued demand for pools and spas, all while bringing joy, health and wellness to our customer’s lives.