I read an interesting article in the Ladders recently on persuasion. One thing that caught my eye, that reinforces something we emphasize in our workshops, is how difficult it is to try to change someone’s pre-existing beliefs. And if we try to engage in a sale on those grounds, we are almost certain to be rejected.
Here is what I mean.
Let’s say that we are trying to sell financial planning to someone who does not like investing in stocks.
Although we know that ultimately this person will probably need some stocks in his portfolio to achieve his overall goals, now is not the time to engage in an argument about the efficacy of stocks.
We only have a short time to bond with our prospect and we may be up against years of his development of aversion to stocks . . . a total mismatch . . . so any type of stock-centric discussion at this formative stage is going to be futile and will probably agitate the prospect negatively.
In this example, we are better off focusing and agreeing on the greater vision and goals. That is fertile common ground.
Once we establish common ground, we begin to build trust, and trust is the number one element buyers site in deciding about a purchasing decision.
Then, as trust grows over time, we can then begin to discuss more sensitive topics which the client will perceive as more credible given our experienced perspective as his trusted advisor.
So it is mission critical to figure out a prospect’s hard core beliefs and biases as early in the pursuit as possible.
And when I am searching for these beliefs, I like to bring “feelings” into the due diligence.
When we ask someone how they “feel” about something, we usually get a raw, emotional response, and that is pure gold in terms of understanding what drives our prospects and clients to make decisions.