The agreement model: why do we choose to agree?

I have noticed that in various discussions people usually agree or disagree based on their internal agreement model or matrix:

  1. whether the point in discussion is right or wrong
  2. whether it would benefit them a.k.a “what’s in it for me”
  3. if it doesn’t impact them at all.

If you want to persuade people to take action, you certainly want those people to make decisions using point # 2. You must remove any confusions, misrepresentations or misconceptions that could lead them to think what you are proposing doesn’t impact them, worse that it is wrong. You will find this video of Jerry Allyne, Boeing’s VP of strategic planning and analysis, speaking about quality of your analysis and its acceptance very useful:

You can achieve this only when you understand their stand, problems, philosophy, and dispositions. It really doesn’t matter how good your solutions are if they cannot trust you. You cannot build trust by cheesy techniques (i.e fancy charts, elaborate Prezis), but actively listening to them and helping them with all your might, not by expecting higher reciprocity.

How to increase the chances of agreement or put people to action?

In the book Challenger’s Sale, the authors conclude that even during the great recession, one group of salespeople was outperforming every other group, including the relationship builders, and that group has “a deep understanding of the customer’s business and use that understanding to push the customer’s thinking and teach them something new about how their company can compete more effectively.”

If you want people to act on your analysis, you must show them the value of your analysis as well as the insights that would help them be more effective. In addition, as Seth Godin said in his book The Purple Cow, “the way you break through to the mainstream is to target a niche instead of a huge market”, don’t target everyone who will accept your analysis, but find someone who is excited and is willing to give it a try. At the end, it is not about the product, but it is about the what the customer wants. As Howard Behar, a former Starbucks executive said, “it’s not about the coffee.”

About the Author

A co-author of Data Science for Fundraising, an award winning keynote speaker, Ashutosh R. Nandeshwar is one of the few analytics professionals in the higher education industry who has developed analytical solutions for all stages of the student life cycle (from recruitment to giving). He enjoys speaking about the power of data, as well as ranting about data professionals who chase after “interesting” things. He earned his PhD/MS from West Virginia University and his BEng from Nagpur University, all in industrial engineering. Currently, he is leading the data science, reporting, and prospect development efforts at the University of Southern California.