Professional public speakers use a simple tactic to control an audience, and you can use this same tactic to gain control of customers and potential customers.
While the tactic is simple, and you can learn it in just a few minutes, this tactic is powerful, and comes with a serious caution. I will explain…
It is rare that I watch television, so please don’t tell anyone I really did click the on- button for the tube one morning (after searching for 15 minutes to find the remote.) While channel hopping, up popped a “show” by a fellow who many considered to be the leader of a cult in this country.
I am insatiably curious about what motivates people, and decided to observe his presentation to see if I could determine how he would “suck” viewers into his point of view.
He began with an innocuous statement, one with which almost anyone would agree. He talked about it for a couple minutes, then made a new positive statement related to the first one, again one with which most people would agree. Hmmm, I thought. This is the very same process advertising copywriters use. They call it, “joining the conversation already going on in a customer’s head.”
Next he made another, generalized statement – one his live audience, and almost anyone watching, would be in agreement. Also he talked about that subject for a few minutes. And so it went for a total of 6 or 7 short topics.
Then he began to take his listeners on a different journey, away from good sense and logic. And it worked. When the camera panned the audience you could see the up-and-down, “yes” head shakes, even though his contention was a bit, uh what shall I call it? Illogical? Goofy? Racist? The people followed him like children chasing a parade.
He brought his audience to almost universal agreement by employing a series of statements – saying things they already believed and would agree with. Then he changed the subject to something this audience would not necessarily have agreed with – but now suddenly they did.
Is this tactic powerful? Examples exist throughout history. Great speakers lead their followers to victory. Politicians, evangelists, powerful leaders use this technique, but unfortunately even the bad guys employ its power. Hitler mastered it, and used it to lead the people into his own brand of madness causing the death of millions. So did crazy men Rev. Jim Jones, and David Koresh.
Study the sermon delivery style used by television evangelists, beginning from the start of their sermon. The good ones have mastered this process, and use it to teach their flock, but the same process is also used by leader of cults.
Please promise me, as we look into how this works, you will only use it for good.
When a writer or speaker is trying to prove a point, especially a controversial point, and blurts out the controversy at the beginning of his or her presentation, the audience immediately starts thinking to themselves, “No that can’t be true.” They begin to mentally argue with the point. So when the speaker says “This is what I think, and I’m going to prove it to you.” his listeners will be fighting his idea the entire time he is trying to prove it.
The same is true in your sales presentations, sales letters, and websites. When you make a statement with which your “audience” might not totally agree, in their mind they will be saying, “No.” They will be mentally arguing against your statement.
But when a speaker (or salesperson or web designer) begins with simple parts of his proof worded so that his listeners will agree with each part as they hear it, he will lead his audience to the conclusion he wants, because this agreement style of communication builds rapport.
A speaker who is leading will make general statements to which his audience will think, “Yes. That’s right” or “I agree with that.” He will make six or eight perfectly valid statements, even give proof if needed, then take the audience in direction he wants. They will follow like sheep. It’s really weird how well this works.
I remember hearing Brian Tracy talk about how a publisher of encyclopedias spent a small fortune to hire a team of psychologists for a major study of what leads people to purchase. Guess what they discovered. They found that what works best is a series of questions to which the customer will answer “yes” in agreement, and after six questions in a row to which the customer answers “yes”, the customer will usually make the purchase. That is a form of leading done to help the customer come to the buying decision.
They made this study during the days of door to door sales. The encyclopedia seller would ring the doorbell, and when someone answered, begin by asking, “Are you the home owner?” If the person who answered the door was not the homeowner, that very fact would disqualify them from the sales process. Most of the time, the homeowner is the one who opens the door.
For example when a customer calls to inquire about a product make a statement, “You are interested in ———” and say whatever it is they called about. Of course they are interested in it. That’s why they called, and you will have your first “yes” answer.
The encyclopedia publisher developed its 42 question list to which the most logical answer is “yes”, and armed its sales force with this marketing tool. You won’t need 42, just a few “yes questions” will build a positive buying environment. It keeps things friendly and you in control.