Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Banish indecision... three ways to get a "yes"

By Bruce Kasanoff

Bruce Kasanoff is author of Simplify the Future, your guide to a successful career and a rewarding life.

It's driving you crazy. No matter what you say or do, your client - or boss - won't make a decision, despite your best efforts. Why can't he make decisions like you do, in a clear and reasoned manner? (Hold on - you might not be right about that last part.)
In reality, human being lean towards inaction. There's even a name for this tendency. It's called the status quo bias. For example, several studies have revealed that the more complicated a decision, the more likely a person is to do nothing.
This true even when doing nothing is neither the wisest nor safest choice. For example, participation in retirement plans is higher when employees are automatically enrolled in such plans. This is true even when employees have both the option to leave or join the plan; there is an unmistakable tendency to stick with the status quo. If your employer enrolls you automatically, you are more likely to keep the plan. If your employer waits for you to enroll, you are more likely not to enroll. But the wisdom of enrolling (or not) doesn't change. Coming soon: increasingly complicated decisions.

Most people agree that our world is getting more and more complex. This suggests that the status quo bias will be increasingly powerful, as people confront complicated decisions with greater frequency. This is a big problem for you if you need to sell a product to customers, to convince your peers to take action, or even to persuade your family members to act in their own best interest.

So what do you do? Here are three options:
1) Simplify decisions: If you want other people to decide, make those decisions less complicated. If possible, reduce the number of options. Make sure there are clear distinctions between the options. For example, in a financial services arena, "Do you want the high risk/high return option or the low risk/modest return option?" is much better than a long-winded statement that talks about all of the individual investments of two complicated portfolios.
2) Make the "yes" automatic: At the end of every month, your cable provider doesn't ask if you want to remain as a customer, right? They assume you want to continue. Many companies make handsome profits thanks to automatic replenishment programs that require just a single "yes" at the beginning of the program. (I haven't watched Netflix in months, but they keep taking money out of my bank account.)
3) Elevate one choice: A furniture salesman might say to a couple torn between three fabric options for their new sofa, "Most people in your situation choose the Durasuede, because it looks handsome but is nearly indestructible." He is elevating a single option, effectively making the choice for his customers but allowing them to technically make the choice themselves.

QUESTION FOR YOU... What else have you done to overcome the status quo bias?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Richard Branson: how to pitch in 5 steps

By Jack Preston - nov. 07, 2012 As any budding entrepreneur will know, pitching your ideas can be a nerve-racking process. Even business greats such as Richard Branson found the skill a hard one to come by, as a child Branson greatly struggled with shyness. There aren’t many obstacles that can’t be overcome with hard work however, recognising this Forbes has put together five tips for the perfect pitch. The Virgin Group Founder relies on five key elements when presenting ideas: 1. What’s in it for them? “Occasionally, an entrepreneur hoping to launch their first business puts so much thought into the concept that he or she neglects the financial and legal plan—and unfortunately, this often becomes apparent early in a meeting, when an investor can lack clarity in what exactly the proposed deal is going to look like.” 2. Be clear. “Winning the trust of an investor means demonstrating a thorough knowledge of your concept or industry and laying out a step-by-step plan for offering something that’s new, innovative and will deliver healthy returns on their investment.” 3. Demonstrate smart disruption. “Emphatically explain how your new company will give your customers a better deal than your competitors.” 4. Plan for sustainable growth. “Nothing stays the same for long, so explain how you plan to tackle the inevitable technological changes and market shifts that are heading your way.” 5. Show them your strengths. “Show prospective investors that you have found the right people to work at your new company.” What’s your top tip for pitching? Let us know below… By Jack Preston. Content & Marketing Executive. Tweets at @JackPressedOn