We Just Don't Know Until We Elicit

Hi Persuader,

There’s an English idiom that goes, “The devil is in the details.” I’m sure you’ve all heard it. It implies that the small things in plans or schemes are often the things that take the most time in the long term. Well, in criteria elicitation, we need to dig a little deeper than just the surface act and get a little dirty with the details.

Criteria is the cornerstone of all sales. It is, to use a sports metaphor, like getting the ball down the alley each and every time. When we further define the criteria, it’s a strike dead on every time.
Here’s how definitions work.

In my career I’ve done a lot of trainings and students come to see me for a myriad of reasons. For example, two people come into a training. Both of them, when you ask them their criteria, say that what’s being taught in the training is important.

If you ask them, “Is this important to you? Do you really want to learn this?” Both of them will say yes.

Yet each one has different criteria when you elicit it.

When you ask the first person they say they’re there because they want to learn new skills. And so your follow up question is to ask what that means and they say that they want to see a list of skills and they want to participate in exercises using the skills so they can learn them.

The second person when you ask them what’s important about what’s being taught in the training, they say, it’s to be recognized. That’s a completely different criteria. When you ask what that means, they might say, they want to have the class participants recognize their skill and they want to be recognized by the instructor as skilled.

Both people willing to come to the training, both people willing to pay for the training, both people are in that training but in reality, if you think about it, you’ve really got two radically different subsections.

For any of you that have taught in front of a group, you’ll know what I’m talking about here. In any group you’re teaching, there will be a section of people that probably know your material and maybe reasonably well, or at least think they do. There will be a group of people that are star struck, thinking, wow, I’m really in the presence of a master.

Then there will be the majority of the people that are interested in really wanting to gain knowledge and see if there is something of value to them in what you’re saying.

But it’s important that you begin to understand that every time you think you know what someone wants, unless you ask, you don’t. You’re not on target. You’re not on track. And until you both elicit the criteria and elicit the meaning, the definition, you’re missing the boat.

Knowing criteria is a good start. If you want to bowl strike after strike, the key is to learn how to define their criteria.

Until Next Time,

Kenrick E. Cleveland

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Lee - June 28, 2008

A very good and important lesson for all to learn. Thanks for the reminder!


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