Here is a fascinating head game that can give you some great insight into persuading others. Sometimes we have to give a bit to get a bit, but it can be a mistake to give too much. For this exercise we have to assume that you would like to be a millionaire.
Guess what! It’s your lucky day. A person, casually dressed (actually a bit trampy-looking) arrives at your door with a small shrub in a pot. They explain that this unlikely looking plant is a money tree that is about to flower at any moment and produce a crop of millions of large denomination bank notes. They are prepared to let you have it for fifty pounds cash.
Please play the game here, I promise it will give you fabulous insights. What is the first question you ask him if you haven’t already slammed the door?
I bet it’s, “Why don’t you use it?”
The reply is, “Well I have and I’m fabulously wealthy but being a magical tree it only grants its owner one crop. So now it’s your turn!”
Well go on, do it! Give him the cash and your money worries will be over. I actually sell these trees myself and if you send me the cash I will send you your money tree by return. What is stopping you? What is the thought process that is going on in your head right now?
Is it that you don’t want the money? No?
Is it that you think that £50 is too much to pay to be a millionaire? No?
So what is it? It is a lack of belief. It is a lack of trust. Magic trees in your previous experience have been a bit of a letdown. The character on your doorstep doesn’t look that rich or believable.
Apply these tests now to your offering. Perhaps you could save your client money, be better in every way than their current supplier. Perhaps you could bring them eternal happiness – yet they bin your mailers, they won’t give you appointments, and if they do, you get nowhere near getting the business. A bit of harsh honesty here: are you a bit like the guy with the money tree? Clearly your potential client should want the benefits you offer, yet they simply don’t appear to trust you to deliver them. They don’t believe what you say.
When you walk up to someone and say, “Buy my home improvement, it will pay back its cost in savings in just six months and go on for another twenty five years to save you thousands! How about it?”
Are you seriously telling me they don’t want to save thousands? No! They don’t believe what you are saying. They are saying you are untruthful.
They are in essence calling you a liar.
Before you get too upset about that, isn’t that just what you felt about the money tree man? What has he got to do to convince us? Maybe he should look the part – if he arrived in a helicopter wearing a Saville Row suit it might help, but you could smell a bit of a conman rat.
I was telling this story to a group of people and someone said that she would believe in him if he was an eight foot tall demon who had exploded through a fiery hole in the floor in a sulfurous cloud of smoke! If you read the story of Faustus, the man who sold his soul to the devil to fulfill certain wishes (there was loads of high falluting stuff but I think there was a pretty woman involved somewhere, silly old fool!) you will notice that the devil had to appear in a selection of guises before Faustus was convinced that he was dealing with the decision maker as it were.
If you sell a magic product, be magical in everything you do. Many years ago there was a TV series called The Avengers which stood aside from the other telly shoot-em-up programs because the characters were so surreal. If the action took place around a flower shop, the man would be called Mr Bloom and his team would all be festooned in flowers. If they were the hit men (which they often were) their victim would be found in a bed of roses. It is congruent with the offer and the whole atmosphere supports the promise. Look around you – that nasty aggressively driven van says, ‘Trustworthy Professional Service’ on the side! Does that gibbon at the wheel look trustworthy or professional? Worse, does he work for you? See the restaurant with ‘Best food in town’ written in the window along with the dead flies and dog pee stain by the door.
You have got to get your offer right.
Why do I need to tell you this? Most of us know how to do it, it’s just that we fail to recognize the importance to our current persuasion project, or worse, we can’t be bothered.
Do another mental exercise for me. Just imagine you are single and your destination in this plan is a partner in love. Do a little bit of research into where to find your likely prospects.
Now here’s a thought. We are already conjuring up partners in our mind that we are ‘qualified’ to persuade. Think back to ‘Are You Qualified’ in the previous chapter. If we have a modest income, the Polo field may be a tough area to be impressive in. If we are over 50, the techno all night rave might be a little out of our league.
We have identified the most likely targets and the areas in which we will find them. If you have got teenage kids, you will know that it is almost impossible to get them clean or co-operative, but just watch them when romance is in the offing; the hair products, perfumes, colognes, the very best clothes, and sometimes even washing. They are instinctively trying to become qualified. They are absolutely clear about what they want and they know that any slip up in the dress, coolness or smelliness department, dramatically reduces their chances.
We all used to be able to do that, so why do we now arrive at a business meeting/job interview/sales pitch thinking, “These shoes are a bit scuffed but oh well”, or are we hot and smelly from rushing? Or do we have a bag full of the wrong literature or price lists that have been corrected with biro? Perhaps our shop could do with a lick of paint; the windows don’t get cleaned as often as they should. Why pay a professional designer or sign writer when bonkers cousin Terry is a bit of a dab hand with a paint brush? Do you think that will seduce the customers? No, nor do I!
Imagine that you are always going out for romance. Is everything about you, your offer, your premises, your people and your vehicles, ready to persuade? When people see you, do they judge that you are qualified to provide what they want?
If you want to test this for yourself put yourself in the mind of a customer and walk the high street shop by shop as I did while researching my television show for the BBC, All Over the Shop. Who would you do business with and why? Who wouldn’t you do business with and why? The cafès and restaurants – would you eat there or not? Look at the trade advertisements. Who is attractive and who is not. Look at vehicles – could they tarmac your drive or would you call the police.
Then go back again and imagine you had been given those businesses to put right. What would you do? Can you see why you weren’t attracted? Now look back at your own offering as a stranger and make these changes.
To sum up this whole exercise, we now need to understand a bit about the psychology of what’s going on. It is all about risk. As human beings we have an in-built and instinctive desire to avoid risk. It is part of our genetic programming that has kept us safe for thousands of years.
You didn’t buy the money tree because you felt that you risked losing fifty pounds. Hey, let’s give you the money tree business. How would you change the structure and offer of Money Tree Inc to reduce that feeling of risk in our potential customers? First, appearance; looking rich might be persuasive, but looking magical would be better.
Let me put another offer to you. I appear on your doorstep with said shrub, still a bit scruffy, but with a different offer.
“I know this sounds crazy, but can I ask you, would you like one hundred thousand pounds?”
What is your reply? Skeptical? Disbelieving? Maybe, but surely you would like a hundred thousand pounds.
“I would like to give you this tree as a gift – no cost, purely a present to you. The only thing is that this thing is a money tree that can no longer function for me, but within 24 hours of your ownership it should produce a crop of around a million pounds. If you return 900,000 pounds to me, it will leave you 100,000 pounds for your trouble!”
“What if there is no crop of money?”
“Then you haven’t lost anything. I am offering you one hundred thousand pounds and a free shrub for just for a few moments of your time.”
Look back at the original offer, a straight fifty quid buy, or the current one. Which one will you choose? It is amazing how many people go for the second. Why? Because it is risk free.
Do you realize that to avoid the risk on this deal you are prepared to pay EIGHTEEN THOUSAND TIMES MORE
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