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How To Be The Most Fascinating Person In The Room

Are you a Maestro or maybe a Victor? If you went to the last annual meeting of either the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) or the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), you would already know.

Sally Hogshead spoke at both of these events and had participants take a Fascination Advantage test to identify which of seven fascination triggers they use most. Sally says the top two triggers shape your personality. The attendees at the two meetings shared many similarities, which might mean that if you are an insurance or financial advisor, you also might share some of those characteristics.

In Sally’s book, Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, she explains the triggers and the 49 personality archetypes formed by the combination of the test-taker’s top two triggers. Once you know this archetype, she says, you can operate at your best. What makes this test different from all the other personality tests is that it reveals how people perceive you, rather than how you see the world. She is working on a new book, How the World Sees Us, which further helps people understand not only their own archetype but also how to deal with the archetypes in other people.

But you don’t need to know that to understand what motivates sales. In an interview with InsuranceNewsNet Publisher, Paul Feldman, Sally discusses how the triggers draw in prospects and keep them as happy clients for years to come. (And also, Sally explains just what being a Maestro or Victor means.)

FELDMAN: Why is fascination important?

HOGSHEAD: Fascination is an intense, emotional focus. When you’re fascinated by people, you are completely focused on what they are saying. You’re more likely to listen to them, to buy from them, to trust them, to respect them.

So in our lives, in the modern environment, in a competitive and distracted marketplace, it becomes increasingly critical for us to understand how do we not just talk at people, and not just sell to people. How do we actually fascinate them so they want to engage with us, become involved in our products, but more importantly, enter into a relationship with us?

FELDMAN: How do you fascinate someone?

HOGSHEAD: There’s a certain way that you communicate that adds value to other people that I call the fascination advantage. And when you focus on it, this is when people become most fascinated by you. This is when they listen to your communication and take action upon it.

When you successfully fascinate prospects or customers, they’re focused just on you. They’re not distracted. They’re not thinking about their next meeting. They’re not thinking about emails loading into their phone. They’re definitely not thinking about the competition. They’re thinking about you, and they’re thinking about your message and what you have to sell.

When you’re fascinating people, their brains light up. The brain lights up almost like it’s in a state of relaxed happiness. They become in the flow. It feels effortless. Whatever message you’re trying to give to them, whether it’s selling a product, or building a relationship, or even just having a meaningful conversation with your kids. When you’re using your fascination advantage, you’re far more likely to connect with people in a way that’s heard, and remembered, and acted upon.

FELDMAN: How does fascination work with the brain?

HOGSHEAD: Every single human brain, throughout culture, is fascinated by the same seven triggers. I call them triggers because they are ways that the brain is instantly trained to focus on certain things. It’s almost like a shortcut when you’re trying to get somebody’s attention. These seven different triggers are neurologically based. I’ll give you a quick rundown of them.

Power is about authority and control. Passion is about creating an immediate emotional relationship. Prestige is about elevating through respect. Mystique is subtle and understated. It’s about selectively editing what you say before you communicate. Alarm is about making sure that things stay on track, and stay safe with detail management. Rebellion is about creativity and innovation, changing the game. Trust is about stability, reliability. It’s familiar and dependable.

One of the triggers represents the way in which your personality most naturally and authentically captures attention from other people. Your primary trigger is the way when you communicate, that you feel most comfortable and most articulate.

FELDMAN: You say that we live in an ADD world today, how does fascination overcome this limited attention span that people seem to have these days?

HOGSHEAD: According to some new research, the average attention span might only be nine seconds. That means that every time you introduce yourself or your message to somebody, you may only get nine seconds before they become distracted and they start focusing on something or somebody else.

When you fascinate somebody however, not only do they listen to you but they want to become involved. They want to learn more, stay loyal, refer you and talk about you. They want to be more than just a customer. They want to be an advocate.

This is incredibly important in trying to attract new prospects and maintaining the relationships we already have with our customers, because in an ADD world, people are always trying new things. They’ll work with you for a little while, then they’ll drop you in favor of your competition. Or they’ll have three different advisors all at one time for different things. It becomes really difficult to do things like sell life insurance, plan long-term investments or help people build their financial future.

FELDMAN: When you spoke at the annual meetings of MDRT and NAIFA, you had the audience take the Fascination Advantage test beforehand and got a bit of surprise, didn’t you?

HOGSHEAD: Yes. The really interesting thing is when we compared the two events, they tracked very, very closely. Out of the 49 archetypes, they share the same top two archetypes, which obviously is statistically significant. [Archetypes are the combination of two triggers that create a personality style.]

FELDMAN: What were the common triggers and archetypes?

HOGSHEAD: There were an extremely strong use of Power and Prestige. When we look at the personality that’s a Power plus Prestige or Prestige plus Power – they share a lot of character traits in common. These two archetypes are named the Maestro and the Victor.

In other words, out of 49 archetypes, a huge percentage of them had the same two triggers, and it was so strong that the top two archetypes were the same one flipped, making them twins.

At MDRT, 7.2 percent of the group was the Maestro. At NAIFA, 8.9 percent of the group was the Maestro. Now, this is really significant. With 49 archetypes, hypothetically each one is going to have roughly 2 percent. But, actually, the number can be as low as .3 percent.

The patterns that we see among both of these groups are very strong opinion, having a very clear idea of how to succeed and being very goal-directed. If Point A is where I am today and Point B is where I want to go, it’s very clear to this group how to make that happen; how to not only envision it, but how to also enact it.

This is really important for an advisor to be able to do, because that’s really what an advisor’s core competency needs to be: seeing a goal, setting a goal, understanding how to get to the goal and then actually realizing that goal.

FELDMAN: If you use the power and prestige triggers, how can you approach people in the most effective way so that you’re using these as an advantage?

HOGSHEAD: People with power and prestige can be sometimes perceived as being a little bit intimidating because they have high standards. They have big goals. They tend to be high energy, and they can be imposing.

So it’s important when these personalities first meet somebody that they understand how they’re being perceived. Because, remember, the triggers test is not a test about how you see the world, but about how the world sees you. And how the world sees somebody with the Power and Prestige trigger is that they’re seen as ambitious, admired, focused, respected, competitive, results-oriented. So the goal is not to temper those traits and tone them down. The goal is to make sure that they are channeled toward results for the client.

FELDMAN: Was there a consistent dormant trigger, a trait they had but were not using?

HOGSHEAD: For both of them, the highest dormant trigger was Rebellion. Rebellion is about innovation and creativity. People who use the Rebellion trigger tend to be highly entrepreneurial. They’re out-of-the-box thinkers who like to be unorthodox in the way they approach situations. Advisors tend to not be like that. Advisors tend to be better at figuring out, “What’s the environment? What’s the goal? And what are the steps that we need to take to get there?” Not necessarily reinventing the wheel.

FELDMAN: Does that mean advisors get out of their depth when they set up and operate their own practices?

HOGSHEAD: Many of them are entrepreneurs. They’re not entrepreneurs that are reinventing the product or reinventing the category. They are entrepreneurs who are built on relationships and on delivering for their clients. It’s important for them to surround themselves with others who can supplement that.

For example, my personality archetype is the Catalyst, and the Catalyst is defined with Passion and Rebellion. So, I’m great at being able to deliver big, visionary ideas for my clients, but I’m very clear that when it comes time to do the spreadsheets, the scheduling, the detailed PowerPoint follow-ups, that the rest of my team is better suited for that.

So I hire for three triggers: Trust, Alarm and Mystique, which are best at implementation and execution. So my executive assistant is a Sustainer. The Sustainer is primary Alarm, secondary Trust. Sustainers tend to be very calm. They avoid chaos because they like to plan out every detail. They like to know exactly what’s going to happen. She’s very by the book. You know, like five minutes before our call started, she sends me an email and says, “Five minutes until your call. Your printouts are to your right.” Everything is planned out because that’s her gift, and that’s why I hired her.

And for all of us, it’s important for us to know our core personality advantages and how to optimize our own performance by supplementing our strengths with our team. This becomes especially critical for advisors who are the engine of their company.

FELDMAN: How does the MDRT and NAIFA archetype stack up to other sales industries? Is it typical for top salespeople to have Power and Prestige as primary triggers?

HOGSHEAD: No. Other sales industries tend to score higher on Passion and on Rebellion. And here’s why this is different. In other sales scenarios where you have customers walking through the door, such as at a car dealership, salespeople are going to be successful if they can walk up and instantly build a connection, and they only have 30 seconds to do that. Then if that sale walks out the door, they’re gone forever.

In financial services, and within the insurance industry, it’s much more about building long-term patterns and being able to execute over the course of months, years and decades. So the personalities tend to be less explosively charismatic, and much more about being focused on the result that you want to achieve.

Now, one caveat that I’d like to make about everything that we’re talking about right now – there’s no one way to succeed. There’s no one way to build relationships and communicate. So I want to be really clear that it is not that it is better if you have Power and Prestige, or Power and Mystique. It has more to do with making sure that you’re communicating, introducing yourself and sharing your message in a way that’s consistent with your core strengths.

So, people can be extremely successful in financial services using, say, Rebellion. They are really creative and can see opportunities in the market that other people can’t see, because they’re able to brainstorm and think untraditionally. They can see the market’s going here, but we really need to be going over there.

Sometimes you can succeed by going exactly in the opposite direction of everybody else in your industry. It’s more a question of how can you apply your natural strengths to serve you, your client and your company.

FELDMAN: If you have a similar primary triggers and secondary triggers to a client, does that create conflict?

HOGSHEAD: It depends on the trigger. Our research shows us, for example, if you have two people who have a primary Prestige trigger, sometimes there can be a little bit of a conflict, because Prestige personalities want to be able to overachieve. It’s really important that you and your client have the same goals, so that you’re achieving but you’re on the same path and working in tandem with each other. The same is true if you were coworkers on a team, so that there isn’t a power struggle going on.

On the other hand, people who had an Alarm personality are focused on details, on keeping things safe. They take a look at the whole landscape and see what can potentially go wrong. How do I make sure that we stay on budget, on track, on schedule, within the framework? So those personalities work extremely well together, because they are motivated by the same things, and they add value in very similar ways. So it’s very easy for the advisor to work with a client, to make sure that their money is invested conservatively, and to make sure that if the economy changes, that their personal financial landscape doesn’t change.

FELDMAN: The insurance and financial services business is about trust. How can you use these triggers to create trust?

HOGSHEAD: Trust is different from all the triggers. Trust can’t be created instantly. You can instantly make somebody feel passionate or curious, but you can’t make somebody trust you immediately. So, that’s the challenge for advisors.

There are three ways to build trust without taking years to establish it.

The first is to identify patterns that you want to repeat. Trust is neurologically based on patterns. Our brain likes to see the same thing over and over again, to see the same logo, to see the same familiar face, to have the same behaviors repeated. It’s why we like to wear the same things. We like to go into our closet and put on our comfortable college sweatshirt, because we know it and love it. In the same way, advisors can make sure that they’re very consistent. Do what they say, say what they do, and that reinforces those patterns.

The second thing that advisors can do is avoid any surprises. When people feel surprised, it causes a break in trust. Even positive surprises can make people a little bit uncomfortable, because there’s a break in expectations. So when you set up a meeting, don’t break it. If you say you’re going to be there at 2, don’t be there at 3:30. If your email usually goes out on the first of the month, make sure that it goes out on the first. Your goal is to make people feel that they’re safe and comfortable, that you’re a familiar presence with sincerity, authenticity and reliability that they can count on over time.

The third thing that people can do to accelerate trust is to build goals far into the future. Instead of just talking about one transaction or one product, to take things and give it a longer context, both into the future and referencing the past. So, for example, if you’re trying to sell an annuity, you wouldn’t want to just talk about how the transaction itself is going to happen. You want to talk about what the implications far into the future and demonstrate how the annuity performs. When clients see things on a bigger time scale, they begin to think of your relationship together not as being simply a month or a year or 10 years, they begin to think in terms of loyalty.

FELDMAN: Isn’t there also the danger of trust becoming boring and you lose fascination?

HOGSHEAD: Yes. Trust can become repetitive and boring. When people become too focused on being trusted, then they start to become irrelevant, because they just do the same things over and over again. They get stuck in ruts, and this can really be the downfall for a lot of advisors that I’ve worked with.

Yes, they’re trusted, but they are so predictable that they have trouble attracting new clients. In order to stand out in any kind of a crowded and competitive marketplace, you have to actually do just that, you have to stand out.

If you’re not willing to stand out, then you need to be ready to start spending a lot more money on marketing. You will have to buy yourself new customers because you’re not naturally attracting them based on your personality.

FELDMAN: What are the most powerful triggers for consumers?

HOGSHEAD: In bringing new customers through the door, to prospect effectively, there are three triggers: Power, Prestige and Passion. Power and Prestige, we saw with both of the groups that we talked about. The Passion trigger helps people immediately connect with somebody through their eye contact, voice and body language. People immediately feel close and participatory with somebody with the Passion trigger, so those are great for bringing new customers in. But keeping people over time is very different.

Keeping people over time has more to do with trust, which we just talked about. So, for financial advisors, the key is to understand how they can leverage their two triggers to not only attract new customers, either through community outreach, referrals, meeting people at events, but also to keep those clients over time and have them consistently bring new business.

FELDMAN: Can a person’s triggers change over time?

HOGSHEAD: Your personality has core competencies that are almost like your north star. So for example, the Veiled Strength is primary Mystique trigger with a secondary Power trigger. But maybe with their kids they would have a different way of interacting. They might be the Subtle Touch, which is Mystique plus Passion. If they were in a situation where they were unsure of what was going on, they might be the Wise Owl, which is Mystique plus Trust, and they would hold themselves back a little bit more. They wouldn’t exert your opinions. People move horizontally across the primary trigger bar.

FELDMAN: Do people use different secondary triggers at different stages of their lives?

HOGSHEAD: Yes. You’re most likely to use different facets of your personality over time by staying with the same primary trigger, but going across that bar. People under 30 tend to use the Passion trigger. People between 30 and 50 in their prime earning years, and are in an aggressive mode in their career, tend to use the Power trigger. People 50 and above tend to use the Trust trigger.

What’s really important to understand is that your personality has these key advantages, and when you’re using them, that’s when you’re performing at your best. It’s when you’re most likely to have a breakthrough or when you’re most likely to be in peak performance. It feels effortless. It feels like you don’t have to put a lot of energy into the awkward and energy- draining process of being somebody that you’re not.

Once you apply this core strength and build your business around it, then it’s self-generative, because it brings you energy. Whereas being put in a position where you’re being evaluated based on triggers that are not the way that you’re built to succeed, it’s almost like if you were right-handed, and I gave you a pencil and told you had to write with your left hand.

You could write with your left hand if you needed to, but it’s not comfortable, and it’s not the best use of your talents. And you’re not going to reach your potential.

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