November, 2008

Getting Primitive

By Persuasion Fundamentals 1 Comment

I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don’t understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.” — Sophia Loren

Hi Persuader,

I’m fascinated with the brain and especially the structure and functions of the brain. The limbic system is the seat of emotion, long term memory, hormones, behavior, and all the senses. It controls our heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, hunger, pleasure, thirst, sleeping and wakefulness — things that we don’t consciously ever think about but take place all the time and are responsible for keeping us alive. It is also where we make all of our decisions. It’s a very primitive structure.

Why is knowing about decision making important for a persuader? Hmm. . . . that’s a pretty obvious one, isn’t it?

When we are persuading, we are asking people to make the decision we want them to make. We are working with a part of the brain that is older than the other parts. This is why I often go through the core drives — fight or fight, hunger, reproduction, shelter — these are all involved in the same process. It’s responsible for something as grand and universal as our evolution and as well as something that’s somewhat more mundane as the decision of whether or not we decide to purchase products or services from a sales professional.

Our analytic mind, the logical, mathematical, scientific, time-keeping, synthesizing, deductive part of our mind, is a lot younger. And while they compose a whole — the limbic system is somewhat naïve of the analytic mind. What I mean by that is, say we smell a scent that brings us back to our childhood. For me, it’s Old Spice. When I was a teenager I had a bottle of it. I didn’t use it liberally, but very sparingly when I’d go on a date. When my olfactory sense comes into contact with Old Spice, it pulls me back to the 70s. I’m in my car, driving down Highway 84, the Columbia River Highway, on my way to my girlfriend’s house.

That’s all great and good. But the problem is that my analytical mind doesn’t pull me back out of that reverie and I can get into that nostalgic state which sometimes can incite sadness. Getting stuck in a feeling can be awesome and amazing and it can be paralyzing.

As persuaders, knowing this can help us make sales. Think about it — if you link something as primordial and deep as the core drives, criteria, and your product or service, and if your client or prospect gets stuck in that feeling of attachment to that, then the decision can be made before logic gets involved at all.

So elicit the criteria, use a little rhythmic speaking or repetition in three — prime the pump, so to speak — and logically, analytically — watch as your client’s limbic system works to your advantage and theirs where your persuasion is concerned.

Until Next Time,

Kenrick E. Cleveland

Bringing It to a Different Level

By Persuading the Affluent 2 Comments

Hi Persuader,

Some of the most interesting conversations come out of working with my advanced students one-on-one. The conversations are never one sided and I ultimately learn nearly as much from them or from interacting with them on the level of their industry as they learn from me. It’s an amazing process.

Recently I was talking with a student/client/friend who’s an advisor and I got on a roll (as I am sometimes apt to do). What came out of this was a really fascinating take on problem solving. My suggestion is that you can never solve a problem on the same level that the problem was created. You have to move to a different level.

Ultimately, this is the basis for all professions in the world today. There are a lot of people who like to do it themselves, i.e. try to do their own taxes, try to sell their own houses, try to fix their own cars — but most of us go to an expert because we realize that there are things accountants, advisors, realtors, and mechanics know how to do with more expertise and more efficiency than us, non-experts, in the given field.

If you are capable of solving the problem yourself, and if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty or reading up on the tax code, you wouldn’t go to an expert. If you were capable of resolving the issues (and maybe liked tinkering or ciphering), you wouldn’t ask for someone who specializes in resolving these issues. You would have no need for it.

Take for example the chiropractor. Chiropractor’s have spent many years studying how the bones in the body work to give support to the back so that when the body is not properly supported and is thus in pain, they can make adjustments that will help eliminate the pain and put people back into order again.

Further, they know how to tell their clients how to strengthen certain areas, how to do specific exercises, so they won’t return to the problem again. If you were in pain right now and you laid down on the floor and tried to move and twist and maybe you decided sleeping on the floor would straighten you out and it didn’t work at all, what are you going to do? What is your next step? You can’t move, you can’t go to work, you’re in constant pain; what are you going to do?

If you’re like me, or like most people, you’re going to look for somebody that can see the big picture, someone who can look at the larger problem than you can, that can see from a greater perspective, someone who understands more than you and can go to a different level to bring a solution to you than you’re able to do. That’s the basis of all professions today.

For purposes of persuasion, this week, figure out the bigger picture on your profession and see if there’s a way to market and sell with that in mind.

Until Next Time,

Kenrick E. Cleveland

What If?

By Abundance 1 Comment

Hi Persuader,

I read an interesting article recently, the point of which said the number one question people ask of themselves, basically human being’s most favorite question is: What if? I don’t know if the writers of the article have any research backing it up, but on a gut instinct, it seems about right (and from three decades of learning and constantly attempting to perfect my skills as a persuasion expert, I am very well acquainted and comfortable with my gut instincts.)

What if? What the article said is that the problem with asking this question is that most people go the wrong direction with it. They say, what if I don’t make any more money? What if life goes to hell in a hand basket? What if there’s a problem? What if I don’t succeed? What if I embarrass myself?

That’s the wrong direction for it to go. The right way to use ‘what if’ is this: what if this works magnificently? What if this becomes the way of the future? What if I discover a way to be on the leading edge? What if life becomes so good, that it just is unreal? What if I’m thrilled with where this takes me? In other words, ask what if but work upward with it, not downward with it. (more…)

Reflecting on Our Blessings

By Abundance, Self Persuasion 1 Comment

Reflect upon your blessings, of which every man has plenty, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens

Hi Persuader,

We’re all affected, some teetering on the edge of hope, some finding the silver lining, some succumbing to fear, and some not even knowing yet how they’re affected. I’m remaining in the silver lining camp. It’s always the best way to raise your vibration. Finding that quiet, calm place and looking at the long term, bigger picture, the one in which I’m the creator of my universe.

I understand that it’s not easy to keep the positive focus in times of trouble. I understand that when the crap hits the fan, it’s less likely that one will reflect upon their plentiful blessings and not on misfortunes and the crap itself. In the midst of misfortune, it’s hard to accept that what goes down, must come up.

Charles Dickens’ quote above is very prescient. As a child, Charles’ family was moderately wealthy, but when Charles was 12 years old, his father was arrested and brought to debtor’s prison. After that, Charles had to go to work, 10 hour days with no child labor laws, and lived away from his family. Adversity overcome, focus on plenty. And still, he ended up describing these debtor’s prisons in his many of his books.

I don’t know if young Charles looked at his life back when he was 12 and thought, I’m so blessed. But he came to realize that there’s an ebb and flow to life (clearly indicated in the above quote and his life story).

This ebb and flow is part of all of our lives. If there were no ups and downs, how would we know when we felt anything? If it all just stayed static, there would be nothing to compare.

Most, if not all of us, have experienced the death of a loved one or a break up from a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, or a financial setback, or an illness or accident that we didn’t believe we could overcome. Maybe we even felt like whatever sadness or pain or fear we felt would never subside. But the fact that you’re reading this right now is an indication that you survived. And maybe even realized that when one door closes another one opens, as in, maybe the change or setback was only an incubation period and helped to make us more who we are, stronger, smarter, wealthier, happier.

I often think about one of my employees who was living in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina. She’s told me on several occasions that it was heart wrenching and traumatic, and yet, she’s happier now than she ever was in the south. She feels blessed with her friends and new town and especially with her new job.

The old cliché, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, while framed in a somewhat negative fashion, is really a very comforting thought. The current economic struggles we may be facing are uncomfortable, infuriating, frustrating, and they are not going to kill us. So the lucky outcome is that we’re going to be much stronger in the future.

Until Next Time,

Kenrick E. Cleveland

Change and Growth

By Abundance No Comments

You cannot expect to achieve new goals or move beyond your present circumstances unless you change.” –Les Brown

Hi Persuader,

It’s not possible to avoid change. Sure, you can keep the same clothes, the same haircut, keep your house decorated the same, hold on to the same mate, try to keep your children close even as they go off to make their own lives and families, live in the same city, attempt to keep the same job, attend the same church, have the same friends — all of that — and still change happens — inner and outer. Our bodies age, knees start to creek, it’s harder to sleep through the night —

The two presidential candidates are bargaining that we want change. In the sense that the country isn’t doing as well as it should and could be doing, yes, people want change. Obama talks about McCain being “eight years of the same failed policies”. McCain has attempted to get in on distancing himself from these failed policies by using the phrase “change is coming”. And indeed, no matter what, change is coming.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe has the right view of this: “We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.” (more…)