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Are you Shoving Your Prospects Down a Rabbit Hole?

Apr 15, 2008
I'm not naming names here, and it's possible no one has even paid this person much attention. . . out there in the world, one of my former students is attempting to teach criteria elicitation. That's it. And while I truly believe criteria elicitation is a phenomenal way to sell, I don't think a body of knowledge as complex as persuasion (human nature), can be distilled and synthesized down to one question especially if you're working with a high end, affluent client base.

The problem with asking a question over and over is that you're going to piss people off and they aren't going to want to deal with you. So therefore, 'What's important about money? What's important about that? What's important about that? What's important about that?' ad nauseum doesn't work. You're really shoving your prospects down a rabbit hole and it's not in the least bit effective.

Complex material often gets watered down for the masses to understand it. When this happens, with persuasion and everything else, this renders the information next to useless. My clients are highly sophisticated and understand the value of receiving real education. The pop psychology version as opposed to the higher education, university version is really how I see this. Condensing something as vast as human nature will deplete it of its value.

The big frame is: what's the point of all of this?

If the point is just to make a quick sale, you've missed the point. Why do we use criteria?

The reason we use criteria is not because we're trying to get a Band-Aid approach or a short cut, it's because we genuinely need to understand the model of the world of the customer that we're sitting in front of so that we can enter into it with them, not so we can banter about with it. We're figuratively entering into their model of the world with them to get to that state of mind.

Once we are in there, we bring our criteria in the back door and we get in there and expand their model. That is where persuasion takes place.

Criteria is the laser focus on what they need and want, it's also the overriding frame.

It's my belief that we have absolutely no business selling things to people who will not find value in them.

Persuading is becoming a master of communication, not just a memorizer of a few patterns.

If there we don't aspire to master persuasion but isolate one little piece of it, it's not going to cut it.

If you are tops in your field, you are where you are because you've made a commitment to be there.

If you are in a field that deals with selling, you must have a full on commitment to absolute mastery of communication, psychology and how the two interrelate.

I contend that criteria is an entry point. If some want to water it down to fit in as a "new fashioned" sales technique, it will probably work sometimes, but it won't have the power behind it that actual persuasion has.

Asking people questions, the answers to which you don't really care about, is as bad as asking, "So, if I can show you a way to save energy, time, and money today, you would be interested in moving ahead with it, wouldn't you?"

It's ineffectual, but there are still people out there who will do it.
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches techniques to earn the business of affluent prospects using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion techniques.
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