Criteria (a.k.a Finding the Hot Button)
“People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.”
–Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662)
I define criteria as that which needs to be accomplished or met in order to take action.
When someone is listening to you about what you do, they already have an image of buying or being involved with your product or service. That is the truism of all truisms. When you’re sitting in front of somebody or talking to them on the phone, they already have that image in their mind. To the extent that you can focus them on that picture, and put yourself in it, the sale will be made. To the extent that you violate that picture and take them out of it, they will go away and you will be left empty-handed.
How can we make the power of what we do more powerful in persuasion? How do we make it seem like what we want them to do comes from their own thoughts? The fact is, it genuinely must be their own thoughts so we must start first with their own thoughts.
Criteria is, first and foremost, one of the most powerful things you’ll ever do. Used right, it’s going to increase your money, it’s going to increase your skills, your persuasion will go through the roof, but most people either don’t know how to do it or don’t know how to do it right.
Criteria is what is necessary for you to aim your message. Without criteria all you’re doing is thinking that you know what the person wants. That’s called ‘features and benefits’ (and if you don’t know how I feel about ‘features and benefits’ yet, you will find out soon in an upcoming article). So with features and benefits you’re bringing up EVERYTHING about your products or services. This is the hit or miss way. That’s what it really is. It’s hit or miss.
Instead of directing everything you say like a laser at what they want, you’re hoping you’ll say something that will make them stop and go, ‘Wow, tell me more about that, would you? That’s really why I’m here. In fact, I’m so glad you said that because now that you’ve said that, I know that I want to do all of my business with you.’
This holds true no matter what industry you’re in. If you can’t get the criteria from your prospect, in my opinion, you need to stop presenting. You’re not a sales monkey. It’s a cooperative effort between you and the person and I would frame it as such right from the get go. And I would frame it without saying it in so many words but through your use of question. And that question that I would probably look to ask and have answered is, ‘Why are we here?’
So why does eliciting criteria really work? Well, number one the prospect doesn’t understand what they’re really giving us. They think they’re just telling us basic stuff. They don’t realize that they’re literally opening themselves up much like a book and allowing us to see deep within them and if they did, they may not give it to us. From time to time you’ll find people that don’t want to give this to you. That’s an indication of your lack of rapport should that happen. If that happens, there’s little reason to proceed. Stop immediately and get rapport.
Maybe you want to try to continue on a little bit, but basically if they’re not going to respect you from the minute you begin talking, the situation is probably not going to work out well and you probably will not close the deal so stop kidding yourself and move on and work harder on gaining rapport in the future.
So even if the prospect does understand what they’re giving us, it is socially correct to find out what is needed prior to recommending something. This is what doctors and lawyers and consultants do. You’re simply doing what everyone believes is the appropriate and right thing to do anyway.
Can you remember a time when you stalled out because of a lack of rapport? What was your first indication? Were you able to go back, gain rapport, and move forward with the elicitation of criteria?
As you use criteria more and more, you’ll be amazed at how far ahead you’ll be able to get in life. You won’t stall out anymore and you’ll be able to recover more easily. We’ll be delving more deeply into criteria in future postings and I’d love some stories from you to deconstruct and/or give as examples. Just post them at this link: http://www.askkenrickcleveland.com.
In July 2007, I’m hosting a 3-day seminar in Las Vegas where I’ll be teaching some strategies that I’ve never taught before. These are strategies that will allow you to link to your prospect’s deepest desires to you, even better than criteria and values. This is brand new material. We’ll also be going into many other exciting persuasion topics that you will want to hear! Look for upcoming emails with details on the Vegas Seminar.
Kenrick E. Cleveland, CEO
Chief Persuasion Officer