“Nothing has more strength than dire necessity.” ~ Euripides
In sales and marketing, the most basic strategy is an ability to fulfill a need. How can we use this strategy to persuade affluent clients? After all, they seemingly have no needs? Wrong. Everybody needs something. Determining what that something is and if you’re able to fulfill it is the process of criteria elicitation.
If you stop to think about what you are consciously thinking about right now it might be the words that you’re reading. You’re probably not thinking about peeling a banana, or you weren’t until you just read ‘peeling a banana’. If your doctor told you to eat a banana every day for potassium, you might think about bananas more than the average person, certainly less than a banana farmer, but more than average.
There’s no possible reason for us to be thinking about bananas all day and dreaming about them all night. But when necessity, such as your doctor’s advice, intervenes, then bananas become more of a common thought for us.
Consciousness is regulated by the part of the brain called the reticular activating system. This is considered to be central to motivation and arousal. It’s involved in the central nervous system’s activities and it helps us to pay attention to the most important things and store those we can reasonably disregard for a time.
Our conscious minds can hold seven (plus or minus two) bits of information at a time. the rest is stored in our other-than-conscious minds for retrieval when needed.
Think about the last time you took a long road trip. Maybe you had on the radio, you were singing along to an old song (whose lyrics you still remember from decades ago, but hadn’t thought about consciously in years, maybe), and you’re maybe thinking about where you’re going, who you’re going to see when you get there. You probably aren’t thinking of having to go to the bathroom. You won’t think about that until you need to. And maybe you aren’t thinking about water or gas or food, unless you need them.
It becomes a different story when you all of the sudden need one of them. Gas becomes so very important if you’re on Empty. Water becomes important if you’re dehydrated and your A/C isn’t working. When food becomes a need, all of the sudden you start seeing fast food signs telling you what’s available to eat, when before you may not have been paying more than a slight passing attention to them.
Where were those thoughts before? They were stored in our other than conscious until we had use for them, until they became relevant. And once we have our needs fulfilled, then they can be stored away again until they again become relevant.
Your prospect’s values and criteria are their needs. By eliciting their criteria, we can illuminate their needs for them, especially in relation to our products or services. By speaking to this higher level (or deeper level) we are fine tuning their reticular activating system to our advantage. And as we work with full integrity, this turns out to be to their advantage as well.
Eliciting criteria is mandatory in pointing us in the direction of satisfying our prospect’s needs. The persuasion comes quite naturally after that.