The Sixth Stage of Incredible Influence

by Daniel Batten on May 26, 2011

Have you ever been very close to getting someone’s agreement on something, or even got their agreement, but then at the 11th hour something unexpected happened?

When you reflect, hasn’t this happened a small – and yet significant amount of the time? And isn’t this the most emotionally and often financially costly part of the influence process – because so much time, effort and emotional energy has already gone in to trying to “make it happen”.

There are only three reasons this ever happens. There is no fourth reason.

11th hour obstacles happen because

1. The person – nearing commitment – suddenly becomes nervous and focuses on what could go wrong

2. An unanticipated obstacle comes up.

3. Over-attachment to an outcome

In this post, you’ll see how to handle the first of these issues.

There is no way to avoid this fact about human psychology: when a person is close to making a commitment, the number one factor in their mind is not “I’m so excited about what this will mean” it’s “but what could go wrong”.

That means that even if someone is excited by your vision, as it comes close to time to saying “yes” – all those doubts about what could go wrong emerge. Most often, these doubts are hallucinations, and fantasies. But they feel real to the person experiencing them, and they are often strong enough to stop someone being influenced at the 11th hour.

The way to avoid them is by laying a “marker-peg” in the conversation early on. This will feel different to what you’ve done in the past, because you’ll think “Won’t that encourage them to think of what could go wrong?” Quite the opposite – what it’ll do is de-activate the power of perceived risks that would have come up anyway – and give you a chance to talk about them rationally in advance, rather than when the person is emotional and there is no time to adequately address them.

Pre-handling risks now takes very little time, and it builds credibility in the integrity of you and the thoroughness of your process. Plus, it increases the odds that you wont get an 11th hour change-of-mind, change-of-heart or change-of-circumstance.

Then if and when a risk does come up the person’s mind – because of this marker peg conversation – they know that it is OK to feel this doubt, its just part of the decision-making process, and they know what to do to handle the doubts.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Craig McAlpine May 27, 2011 at 7:46 am

Key issue here is that you’re discussing ‘your vision’. The solution/idea needs to align with your clients/organization vision. They must own it as much as you do. Encourage discussion and debate around risk early. Your value as the consultant is to mitigate risk throughout the process not just at the end / closing stages of the sales process.

juliet May 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Excellent advice, and I’ve found it to be true also.

Daniel Batten June 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Oh i Couldn’t agree more Craig. Not saying focus on what happens at the end at the exclusion of alignment. Alignment throughout the process is a separate and also important point.

Leave a Comment