Thursday, July 14, 2005

Inquiry is The Heart of Persuasion

In a heart warming admission of how she got it all wrong with a client, Susan Cramm points out the total uselessness of "telling" as a form of persuasion...and generating business. In what she refers to as a "PowerPoint-induced haze" and in spite of very obvious clues, she plowed ahead with her presentation in an attempt to assist a client to get support from her boss. In "The Heart of Persuasion - Editorial" (CIO online magazine) Susan reminds herself and us that

"Persuasion is a process that starts with credibility. Credibility comes from listening to people to understand them and respect their points of view. You must address both sides of persuasion by spending as much time on the negotiation and learning process as you would on the content of your solution. If you do so, you will spend less time with your computer and more time with people, listening to their views... If you start with effective inquiry, you can transition to advocacy once you know what issues or opportunities are important to your audience."

Robert Middleton, of Action Plan Marketing, reminds us also that as consultants too often we rush to explain to the client who we are and what we do. Why not listen, he says, and let them talk about their needs and situation. From a work generating perspective, they are telling you what it is that they want you to do for them. Makes the proposal so much easier to write so much more likely to be accepted.

Try it with your partner, teenager and co-workers. Inquiry is a powerful tool that doesn't need batteries, or complicated training, just a genuine desire to learn. How simple is that?


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