05/29/2013 07:48 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Influence: Easier to Do Business With, Harder to Say 'No' To

I remember back in 1999 when it seemed our whole lives were dominated by a simple three-symbol acronym -- Y2K. Well here we are nearly 15 years later and it feels like a new acronym has taken over: DIY.

People are tiring of commercialized, mass-produced commodities, and now we think we want the excitement of being our own artisans, of putting our own stamp on things again. Granted, there are those who are satisfied with the building experience that comes from putting together a piece of IKEA furniture, but for many of us we are looking for an even deeper experience. I don't just want to open the package and assemble the pieces -- I want to cut the wood, hand pick the nails and screws, feel the sweat collecting on my catch my drift. It sounds theory.

But then there comes the daunting task of actually selecting the right materials and mastering the appropriate techniques. It can leave the average DIYer feeling quite paralyzed and in an instant transform that task that at first sounded so simple, aspirational even, into something insurmountable.

People want the reward of having been their own artisan, but they often lack the adequate time, money, or just sheer mental energy to really execute. What they need is a partner -- somebody who understands their aspiration, can enable them, and can make it not only feasible, but can make it EASY. The easier you can help people meet their need state, the easier it is to position yourself as worth their while, and the better the chances of you getting their business or buy in.

Fortunately for the DIYer out there, such a partner already exists: Home Depot.

Home Depot

One of the keys to Home Depot's success is their commitment to being easy to do business with. They go above and beyond, providing as many guides, resources, and specialists that they could think up to hide the complexity of doing home improvement (and thus engaging and spending money with them). They provide one easy to access space (whether online or in stores) to address all of our home improvement needs. Beyond that, given the vast number of projects and resources, just about everyone could find something to engage with.

Let's assume, for instance, that as the spring season settles in customers are getting invigorated to tackle their backyards. Where to even begin, though? What sorts of projects to tackle? What to buy? And how to accomplish everything they want to accomplish? Fear not -- Home Depot simplified the entire process:

  • DESIGN PHASE: Browse the project guides to pick a task and then utilize the corresponding buying guide to distill from the overwhelming number of options just the products they really need.
  • SKILLS TRANING: Watch any of the videos offered through the "how-to center" or attend a free weekly workshop to learn or refine any techniques necessary.
  • TROUBLESHOOTING: The experts at Home Depot even make themselves available to troubleshoot any additional problems that might arise, providing tips and advice on blogs, through communities like this one, and on their expert forums.

How Could You Simplify?

We have all been there before, where doing business with someone is downright difficult. There might be an overwhelming number of choices and combinations in the offer and you aren't sure where to even begin. Or even worse, the choice is simple but you can't actually do the business with them, whether it be they don't take credit card or you don't want to deal with the mountain of logistical paperwork you must fill out in advance.

You have done way too much work to get to the point of engagement and to put structural and systematic barriers in the way. Watch the video as we distill the keys to being easy to do business with, namely:
  • Making it easy to choose
  • Making it easy to transact
  • Making it easy to integrate your offer into the buyer's life
There are three things I suggest you do this week after watching the video:
  1. Consider how you could package your offer in such a way that choosing would be easier. Try and stick to no more than three options.
  2. If you have not already, be set up to engage the buyer in whatever way they want to buy. Even if your offer is not about money, make it easy for them to give you whatever it is you seek.
  3. Give some thought and consideration to how your offer would integrate into the life of the buyer once they have engaged. Now think of as many ways you can to make that process as simple for the buyer as possible.

Influence - Easy to Buy from Peter Sheahan on Vimeo.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Peter Sheahan on the topic of Making It Happen in Small Business, focused on turning those with the ideas into those with the influence. To see all of the posts in the series, click here.