I recently came across a book titled ‘Influencing Human Behavior’ by Harry A Overstreet.
In the foreword he writes: ‘The following chapters are the substance of a course of lectures given last year at the New School for Social Research in New York City. It came as a petition for a course indicating how human behavior can actually be changed in the light of the new knowledge gained through psychology.’
The chapters in part one are titled:
1. The Key Problem: Capturing the Attention
2. The Appeal to Wants
3. The Problem of Vividness
4. The Psychology of Effective Speaking
5. The Psychology of Effective Writing
6. Crossing the Interest Deadline
7. Making Ideas Stick
Straight away, on the first page of chapter one, Harry gets to the nub of the issue: ‘What we attend to controls our behavior. What we can get others to attend to controls their behavior’.
If, like me, you’re always seeking to understand how people behave and how to (ethically and appropriately) influence them to behave differently (better, more appropriately), then I bet you’re halfway to Amazon to order a copy. I have good news, it’s in stock, you can get the book delivered in a few days.
Which is quite extraordinary given it was first published in 1925.
Last week, I was asked by one of our members to have a one-on-one session to discuss a specific issue. ‘How can I get my sales team to be more focussed on business generation?’ Like a doctor in the winter, being consulted by the 100th patient that week for a nasty dose of cold/flu, I gave the prescription I’ve issued many times:
- You need to allocate 45 minutes first thing every day to call your future customers* (*sometimes known as past customers, either way they’re the people in your database).
- You must make sure that the team is well prepared; they have a call list, a print out of the available appointment times, a clear understanding of the future customers’ likely wants and needs and some great questions to create a guided conversation.
- Immediately after the call out session you review how it went using www.www.ebi (What Worked Well? What Went Wrong? Even Better If?)
Of course, like the writers of thousands of books on human behaviour since 1925, I could dress up my prescription, give it a fancy title or brand, but what would be the point other than to make a cheap buck? There’s nothing new to new business other than the different mediums we now have available.
Both Harry Overstreet and I can explain why many people who totally get the theory don’t put it into practice. It’s simple.
Forming habits is easy. Changing habits is hard. That’s why people will search for ages to discover something new and different, despite the old, proven, remedy staring them in the face.
The idea that you can do more business with past (future) customers than new ones has prevailed for centuries. Who knows, maybe a 100 years from now, someone might be quoting this post in response to a request for help in generating new business, and that’s because I bet it will still be an issue in 2121.
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