Use Your Fingerprints to Gather More AUM

September 2, 2014

by Dan Solin

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A colleague of mine calls it “assumicide” – trying to convince a prospect to say yes by offering a careful and exhaustive presentation of a proposal’s assumptions and merits. There’s a more powerful route to yes, however: using heuristics to align yourself with your prospect.

While some people systematically process the pluses and minuses of a given offering, many use mental shortcuts based on past experience when confronted with a difficult decision. Psychologists refer to the former method as “heuristics. These mental shortcuts permit us to reach quick and easy solutions to complex issues.

The prevalence of the use of shortcuts over reasoned analysis is surprisingly pervasive. Reasoned analysis may lead to superior decisions, but it is not as widely used. One study found that participants who either spoke with a person for a few minutes or sat quietly in a room with a person were more likely to agree to a request from that person than participants who had no prior exposure to the person making the request. The same study found that participants were more likely to agree to the request when they were led to believe that the other person had personality traits similar to theirs.

Trivial similarities between you and your prospects can positively impact their decisions.

Using heuristics

I’m not suggesting the merits of your proposals are irrelevant. The merits are critically important. However, make sure to spend some time exploring similarities between you and your prospect rather than simply launching into a presentation about your offering.

Here’s a summary of frequently used heuristics:

Sharing a birthday

You might not think having the same birthday as a person might influence your ability to convert that prospect into a client. But trivial parallels, such as sharing a date of birth, are known as “incidental similarities.” There’s ample evidence that incidental similarities are often used as heuristics to influence decision-making.

Grigori Rasputin was a highly controversial and divisive historical figure. He was an adviser to the Russian royal family, the Romanovs, in the early 1900s but was known colloquially as the “mad monk of Russia.” But in one study, participants evaluated him more kindly when they were told they shared a birthday with him.