Effortless Influence and Persuasion


Because you've opened this article, a couple of unique things are true about you.

One is you are dedicated to improving your life. Everybody on planet Earth would LOVE to have a better life, but few take the consistent action required to make it happen.

Because you are reading this now, you are in a very small minority of people who realize that improving themselves and their skills is a crucial ingredient of consistent success. Before we get into this, ask yourself a couple of simple but profound questions:

What would you like to do with this information?

Assuming you take the time to go through this, what will that get you?

To help you, consider this situation. You see somebody. Maybe they are a potential client. Maybe they are a potential romantic interest. Maybe they are a loved one or a relative. You have something in mind you'd like from them. Maybe an action, maybe for them to agree with an idea, or to stop doing something.

You approach them, and start a conversation. Using the tools and ideas you've learned from this article, they not only readily agree with your idea, but they think it's a fantastic idea. In fact, they think it's so fantastic, you suspect they might even be taking credit for the idea themselves!

Assuming you had that power, to walk up to anybody, anywhere, any time, and use these tools to create that kind of response, what would you be able to do with your life?

  • What would you be able to create?
  • What would your finances look like?
  • What would your love life look like?
  • What would your relationships look like?

Think of two or three really important and powerful things (to you) that you'd like to create.

Now that you have them, (in your mind, as you imagine this exercise) how does life look now?

What do you feel about yourself? How do you feel about your potential? How do you feel about your relationships?

As you realize now that you can consistently and fairly easily get those things that you'd like, how do you feel about life in general? How do you feel about your future?

Keep referring to these ideas as you go through this article. It will not only help you stay motivated, but it will also give you an idea of where you're headed.

The Power of Persuasion

When do people persuade? Most of us consider that we humans developed language to convey information. Let me take that back. Most of us don't even stop and wonder why we created language.

In fact, most of us simply go through life and spit out some words that kind of sort of describe the ideas in our heads. We never consider why we are using language, or how effectively (or not effectively, as the case usually is) we're using it.

Recently however, linguists and evolutionary biologists are starting to suspect that humans developed language not to simply convey information, but to persuade.

In fact, when we get right down to it, every time you communicate with somebody, you are intending (consciously or not) to persuade them on some level. Even if we communicate to give somebody some information, we are either responding to a request for information, in which case we are the ones being persuaded, or we are hoping the information we are conveying will convince somebody to do something.

If this is true (we'll go through several examples in a bit) then that means that by learning to persuade effectively and elegantly, you will literally turbo-charge your communication skills. You'll speak to people so they'll not only love talking to you, but they'll more often than not go along with your ideas as if they were their own. And as I'm sure you know, most people readily go along with their own ideas!

Now, let's look at some examples of some basic communication situations, and see that it really is persuasion.

Examples of Persuasion

Let's look a few situations, and see that many times, even though we think we are communication to convey information, that really is a means to an end. The end, of course, is the outcome we are hoping to achieve through the delivery or acquisition of that information.

Asking For the Time

Let's say you've left your house in a hurry. You're meeting a friend on the other side of town. You forgot all your devices, and even your watch.

You're feeling a little bit thirsty, so you pass by a 7-11. You're not sure what time it is, but you don't want to be late. You look inside and you see a huge line of people. You guess it will take at least five minutes to get through that line. You wonder what time it is, and remember suddenly that you've left all your devices at home. It's cloudy, so you can't build a sundial. You look inside 7-11, and don't see a clock.

But you see somebody walking towards you and lo and behold, they're wearing a watch! All you've got to do is ask for the time!

(I know, a big and convoluted set up!)

You say, “Excuse me,” ask for the time, give them a big smile, and they go on their way.

Your intention was to know the time. In order to get your intention met, you had to persuade somebody else to give it to you. The information that was conveyed, the time, was a means to an end. The person who had the time was also a means to an end, in so far as you decided you wanted the time from them when you first saw them. Of course, both you and they likely enjoyed the process, as we all enjoy interacting with others in a friendly way, but that was secondary.

The primary purpose of that interaction was to find out what time it was. In order to fulfill that desire, you had to convince them to give you information. You wanted something from them, and you had to persuade them to give it to you.

Asking Your Boss for a Raise

This is easy to see how it's a persuasion, and not just a transfer of information. You need more money. You look around at your job, and you see you've been doing more and more complicated things. You notice that you've been taking on more and more responsibility. More than that, you realize that if you suddenly quit, your company would quickly be in trouble, and they might lose clients, or they might lose money.

So you build up your case, maybe in your mind, maybe on paper. You ask your boss for an appointment. You sit down with him or her, and outline your proposal. You show them how much you've been doing, and how much the company is dependent on you. If you are really shrewd, you illustrate how much the company would lose if you were to suddenly quit. If you are really, really shrewd, you show your boss a few offers you've gotten from other companies, for more money than you're currently earning. The boss takes this all in, you negotiate on price, and you both agree to an increase in salary of ten percent. Nice job!

This was clearly a persuasion. You wanted something from your boss, and you had to convince them to give it to you. In order to do that, you had to communicate a lot of information.

The information (your workload, responsibility, any competitive offers) was the means, and raise was the end, or the outcome.

Giving Somebody a Compliment

Often times we say something, then we don't get the response that we wanted, so we back off, and say either to ourselves or to them, “Just saying…”

But are we really ever “just” saying?

Consider this. You are at a public place. You see somebody whom you find attractive. Within a couple of seconds, you find yourself spitting out some compliment. Maybe you say they have nice shoes. Maybe you compliment them on their watch. Maybe you like their haircut.

Why would you do such a thing? Are you always going around giving out compliments?

The truth is we all give out compliments because we want to elicit a positive emotional response. We see an attractive person. We'd like them to look at us, and smile at us because of something we said or did.

Giving them a compliment is an easy way to achieve this. We spit out the first thing that comes to our mind, they look at us, smile, and say, “Thanks.”

If we feel their, “Thanks” is genuine, then we've achieved our outcome.

We weren't really, “Just saying,” since we had an outcome in mind.

Let's go one step deeper.

The Quest for Validation

We all crave validation and recognition. Let's just admit that and get it out of the way. Napoleon noted that “Men would die for ribbons.” This means that on the battlefield, soldiers would literally risk their lives if they thought they were going to later receive some kind of public acknowledgement or recognition or praise for their bravery.

All of us have egos. We all crave recognition. We all crave public approval. We all crave validation. There's nothing wrong with these desires. They are hard wired into our DNA.

So often times, when we're “just” hanging out with friends, and we're “just” talking to each other, we are always trying to get something. Somebody mentions somebody on TV. Maybe a pitcher for a local baseball team. They say that he's been doing poorly lately. You mention that he is about to stage a strong comeback.

Are you “just” saying that? Or are you secretly hoping you'll be recognized for your insight? For your opinion? Are you “just” passing the time, or are you trying to get something?

The purpose this is to not make anybody feel bad for having an ego or wanting any kind of validation. It's to simply illustrate that every single time we open our mouths and say something it is to achieve some kind of outcome.

And unless we are talking to imaginary people on top of a mountain, that outcome is dependent on the participation, conscious or unconscious, of other people.

Pretending we aren't always persuading won't help us become better persuaders.

Admitting that we always want something from every single interaction will. Now that doesn't mean we are getting things at somebody else's expense. Far from it. In fact, as you'll learn throughout this article, the best, easiest, and most natural ways to persuade somebody is to convince them that what they want, and what you want, can BOTH be satisfied, through one single action.

Getting taken advantage of sucks. It's a horrible feeling. Taking advantage of other people also sucks. It's also a horrible feeling.

But being involved in any kind of interaction, where both people WIN, be it some small talk at the corner bar, or a lengthy negotiation for a raise with your boss, is a wonderful feeling.

In fact, there are few better feelings than interacting with somebody so both people end up better off. And the better you are a persuasion, the more of those relationships you'll be able to create.

And guess what?

Every single interaction, every single persuasion follows the same basic structure. Understanding that basic structure is the first step in becoming a master and elegant persuader.

Overall Structure of Persuasion

So, what are the underlying structures of a typical persuasion-based interaction?

Before we get into the specifics, it's crucial to understand the difference between conscious and unconscious intentions, as they relate to communication and persuasion.

Our conscious minds are a relatively recent development in human history, and they are layered on top of our previously evolved or engineered processes. (Engineered or evolved depending on your beliefs on how we came to be here).

Unlike a computer program, where updating also means removing the old components that are no longer necessary, whenever humans got a brain upgrade, it was simply put on top of the old one.

We've actually got three brains, which represent the three basic time periods of our evolution. The first is the reptilian brain, which is responsible for fight or flight, and safety. The next layer on top of that is the mammalian brain, which is responsible for social interactions, and on top of that is our neocortex (which just means “new brain.”). Whenever we're thinking largely with our neocortex, we are thinking consciously. Whenever we are thinking primarily with our mammalian brain, we are responding unconsciously.

Because living together in social groups is common among many mammals, interaction and communication doesn't always require conscious thought. For the most part of human history, our instincts were sufficient. Meaning we never really had to think much about what we were doing or saying. We just acted and spoke based on our feelings, which were driven by our instincts and our subconscious interpretation of events.

Even today, when we speak, it's usually a mix of conscious ideas and desires, along with preprogrammed instinctive desires.

Humans evolved conscious communication, or language, as it helped us to talk about more complicated ideas that required more complicated thoughts.

This is essential to understand, because often times not all of the persuasion structure is conscious. It is sometimes pre-embedded in our communication. The parts that are pre-embedded into our communication, or the times when certain things are “expected,” are generally referred to as “polite” behavior.

Adhering to the basic structure of persuasion is considered “polite,” while not adhering to some of the steps is sometimes referred to as “impolite” or “abrupt” or “rude” behavior.

Let's take a look. Following is the basic structure of a persuasive communication. We'll go through each step briefly, and in the next section we'll go over them in a bit more detail.

Break State

Before you interact with somebody, they were doing something else. Breaking state is when you convince them to stop doing what they are doing, and talk to you or otherwise interact with you to give you what you'd like.

Develop Rapport

This is where you develop some kind of connection. A feeling of safety and comfort, so they will feel at ease talking to you, and you will feel at ease talking to them.

Elicit Criteria

This is when you find out what they want, or what's important to them. The more you know about them, the more you'll be able to convince them to help you get what you want.

Magnify Criteria (Optional)

This is when you take what's important to them, and magnify the emotional intensity, giving you a better chance of you getting what you want.

Leverage Criteria

This is where you show them that by helping you get what they want, they'll be getting what they want.


This is when you specifically suggest a course of action, so you can both get what you want.

Overcome Objections (Optional)

This is when you find out what resistance or reservations they have to the previous suggestion, and alleviate them.


This is when you suggest, one more time, the course of action.

Examples of Structure

Now, this seems like a pretty boring, old school style means of persuasion, right? Of course it is! Because this is the way humans have been communicating with each other and persuading each other since the dawn of time. It may not seem like each one of these elements are present in every single communication, but they are there. Only most of the time, they are assumed to be there, at least on a subconscious level. When we feel as if we are happy with the conversation and the way it's going, they are there on some level.

In fact, if any of these elements weren't there, you would feel a vague, “icky” feeling as if you were being taken advantage of, or being forced to do something against your will, or at the very best, you would feel as if you were making a distasteful business transaction, such as buying a car from a horribly repulsive used car salesman, but only because you were getting a good deal.

Let’s look at some examples. The first one is asking a stranger for the time.

You break state when you politely say “Excuse me,” before you ask for the time.

You create rapport at the same time, by presenting safe body language and hopefully a smile on your face. You are assuming criteria of a friendly interaction. This is where the “polite behavior” comes in.

You assume a few things about what this stranger wants. You assume they will enjoy a kind interaction with a stranger. You assume they will enjoy being thanked for their effort. You assume they will feel better after the interaction.

Now, you may be saying, “I don't assume anything! I just ask for the time!”

All of these assumptions are built into us, whenever we think of “polite behavior.” When we think of “polite behavior“ we are really thinking of behaving in a way that we are pretty sure others will find agreeable and kind. For example if you screamed at them as they walked past, with angry look on their face, shouting “HEY! What's the time!”

They might give it to you, but they wouldn't feel very good about the interaction. They also might run away without giving you the time.

In this example (not the screaming part), you aren't likely to get any objections, so let's look at another example, asking your boss for a raise.

You break state by asking for an appointment. This is to set up the proper tone for the meeting.

You don't really need to elicit criteria, because you already know the criteria of the workplace is to be profitable, lower costs, and become more efficient. However, you can certainly magnify criteria.

You can walk into his or her office, and explain in detail how much you'd like to help out the company. You bring up some recent successes, to bring them to the front of their mind.

In this case, you are magnifying criteria at the same time of deepening rapport. Then you present your case. You explain how giving you a raise will help him better reach their own criteria. If you've got a boss like most people, they'll likely say “no” the first time. This is when you've got to overcome objections. You show him or her how you can easily make those objections a non-issue.

If she says he can't afford to give you a raise, you show her how you'll save the company with your new responsibilities.

Then you close again, and recommend that you get a raise. Let's look at one more example, and then we'll look at each one of these steps in detail.

Starting a conversation with a stranger, for personal or social purposes. This could be friendship, romance, or sex. Guys talk to girls, and girls talk to guys. Now, most of us wouldn't think of this is a “structured” conversation, like asking your boss for a raise, as often there's really not a specific outcome, but believe it or not, this does follow the same structure.

You break state by introducing yourself to the person. You create rapport by speaking in a kind voice, open body language, and friendly body language.

The entire conversation is centered, usually unconsciously, around eliciting and leveraging criteria.

You find out what's important to them, and conversationally show them what's important to you. The “objective” is to create a relationship of some sort, so by showing them you've got overlapping interests (Hey! We both like alcohol! Lemme buy you another drink!). You “close” by trying to get some kind of contact information, either overtly or covertly.

If they refuse, they'll give you an “objection” which you hopefully will try and overcome. If you do, you “close” them again.

If you aren't specifically looking for a traditional “close,” this process still exists, even in random two- or three-minute conversations.

Say you're standing in line at the post office, and you are bored. Your intention is to spend the next minute talking to the person behind you.

In this case, the “breaking state,” “creating rapport,” is quickly followed by “eliciting criteria” or simply talking about anything that seems interesting at the time. The “leveraging criteria” part is where you show that what you want will help them get what they want, is also present. You're both following the “rules” of polite conversation, which means you're both enjoying the conversation by talking about safe and hopefully interesting things.

So what's the close? The close is actually the conversation itself. Simply by talking, you are satisfying both your needs, which is always the close. Because we are social creatures, and we've lived together as social creatures for hundreds of thousands of years, this is programmed into us on a deep level.

The “overcoming objections” also happens unconsciously. This is when you notice, during the conversation, that they are maybe a bit shy, and you soften your “approach” just a bit, to make them feel more comfortable.

So you see, all of these elements, which are clearly present in an obvious “persuasion conversation” like asking your boss for a raise, are deeply embedded in all of our conversations.

In the next section, we'll go over each one of these in a bit more detail, and cover some specific exercises to help increase your skills in each area.

Break State

Before any persuasion happens, conscious or unconscious, you've got to break state.

Before you start a conversation, and get them talking about what you'd like to talk about so you can manifest your outcome, you've got to get their attention.

These seem basic, but let’s take some time to understand what's going on. All of us are thinking thoughts all the time. Even if you're sitting there staring at a wall waiting for the paint to dry, you've got thoughts swirling around in your mind. (Like, “Dang this is boring!”)

For another person to come up and engage in conversation, they've got to convince you to get rid of whatever thoughts are floating around in your mind, and focus on them and what they'd like to talk about.

Since humans are highly social creatures, this is pretty easy, and pretty unconscious. Most of the time, you simply and politely excuse yourself, ask their permission to speak with them, and then start speaking.

However, unless you've got their full attention, you won't likely be successful with any persuasion or influence. That's why capturing their attention and imagination is crucial. It's very easy, and will only take a few seconds to do.

There are several different scenarios in which you'll need to break their state and engage in some kind of conversation. Let's go over some of the most common ones.

A Social Situation Where Interaction Is Expected

This can be any place like a bar or club, a network marketing mixer, a party, any place where people get together for the sole purpose of getting together and interacting with friends and strangers. This is a pretty easy environment, and usually won't require much more than a “Hi!” and an introduction.

The general rule of thumb in these types of situations is to “go first,” meaning you do first what you'd like them to do. If you want to know their name, you introduce yourself first. If you want to know their line of work, you mention your job first, either obliquely or directly. If you want their opinion of the music, you mention yours first.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves! We're just breaking state here. Social gatherings are the easiest.

Social Situation Where Interaction Is Not Expected

This can be places like book stores, coffee shops, waiting in line, anyplace there are a lot of people but most folks don't go there specifically to meet other people. They go there to get some business done, do some window shopping, get something to drink, read a book, etc.

In these situations you'll need to soften your approach. You know why if you've ever been approached by a pickup artist or a network marketer at a bookstore!

The best practice for this situation is to first excuse yourself in some way. Then quickly apologize for the interruption. You don't need to fall all over yourself, just mention an apology to let them know that you know most people don't go to these places to interact with others.

Then you state that you will only take a small amount of their time. This will give you the best possible chance to ease into a conversation.

When you approach, it's best to approach at an angle. So they can sort of see you coming up from the side, but not directly at them. You don't want to startle them. Ideally, you don't want to shove yourself in their face. You'd like to be in their peripheral vision when you start with, “Excuse me,” so they don't have to do anything other than turn their head slightly.

Remember, when breaking state in these situations, you want to make it as easy and painless for them as possible. Keep your body language slightly turned away from them, so they don't feel imposed on.

Social Situations Where People are Constantly Moving

If you ever find yourself on the street corner selling kitchen gadgets, you'll need to break state in a hurry. In this situation, you'll need to come up with a “hook” to get people's attention.

Think of a very short, very easy to say, and every easy to understand sentence that highlights the main benefit of what you're offering. Simply keep shouting it out over and over, and reel in whoever takes an interest.

It will help if you've got a couple follow up sentences based on secondary benefits. As you're standing there barking out the main benefit, some people will look over at you as they walk by. Pay attention for these people. Look them in the eye and quickly hit them with the second and third benefits.

If anybody slows down, keep talking and take your primary and other benefits and turn them into questions. Ask them the questions to reel them in further. Once they've stopped, and walked over, you've effectively broken state, and now you can begin your pitch.

Telephone Calls

When the phone rings, most people usually don't like it. Only those waiting for lovers, best friends or job offers are happy when the phone rings.

So if you're doing any kind of phone sales, you'll use the same tactic as the social situation where people aren't expecting any interaction, combined with the street corner vendor technique.

First, quickly thank them for answering the phone, and quickly apologize for interrupting them. Then quickly introduce yourself, and hit them with the main benefit. Do this quickly, as this will show them that you respect their time. Once you've got the above taken care of, ask them if they'd like to learn more, and tell them how long it will take. This whole process should take no longer than five to ten seconds.

If you are calling warm leads, meaning people that have asked for more information, you can take a bit longer, but not much. Remember, even if they did ask for more information at one point, most people really don't like being interrupted by the phone, especially if it's somebody they don't know.

Thank them for answering, apologize for interrupting them, introduce yourself, and tell them you are calling as a follow up to a request they made previously. Then review the information they have, and ask them if this is a convenient time, even if they are expecting the call.

Door To Door Sales

This follows the same procedure as non-expected telephone calls. Thank them for answering the door, apologize for interrupting them, introduce yourself, and give a quick benefit statement. Make it sound as compelling as possible. Ask them if they'd like to learn more, and tell them how long it may take.

Developing Rapport

Rapport is one of those things that everybody talks about, everybody seems to know, yet few people have any idea what it really means.

So, what is rapport? It is an unconscious feeling of comfort, safety, and connection with somebody.

Let's say you go shopping for a car. You maybe think you want a black SUV. So you head down to the SUV store, and you see the one you want. But you're still not sure.

Suddenly you hear a very familiar voice. You turn around, and you see your best friend. The one who saved your life a couple years ago. The one who baby sits your kids when you go out of town. The one you trust with the secret combination of your hidden safe, in case of a zombie apocalypse.

Only you didn't know he worked at the local SUV dealership. (I know, I know, just play along, OK?) He asks if you're thinking about that SUV. You say yes. He only says this:

“This thing is pretty sweet man! I can get you 15% off sticker. Just buy it and we'll go camping this weekend!” Most of us would buy it, assuming we could afford it, and it matched what we wanted.


Because he's our best friend. We've been through thick and thin together. We know him. We trust him. Around him our guard is down. We know he's got our back.

That is a feeling of deep rapport.

The truth about persuasion, all persuasion, is if you can simply focus on creating MASSIVE rapport, you won't need much else. Literally. Full stop. Read that again.

If you ONLY know how to create MASSIVE rapport, you will never ever need any other skill.

People would feel so comfortable and relaxed around you, and they would trust you so much, that you wouldn't need any language patterns, you wouldn't need to elicit criteria, you'd just need to say something like, “Yep. This is pretty sweet. Just get it.” And that would be that.

On the other hand, if you don't have sufficient rapport, even the most advanced alien-ninja-Jedi skills would not get you much. Unless they were desperate for your product or service, and the competition charged ten times as much for the exact same thing. Even then they would not enjoy doing business with you.

The trouble is that most of us automatically put up a HUGE defensive shield whenever we go shopping. We are so terrified, on a deep level, of getting taken advantage of, that it's hard to break through.

However, you will find that creating rapport is pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

The basic rule is to match their model of the world, as much as you can. Before you say anything that they can accept or reject, you've got to have rapport.

So when creating rapport, say things that they will agree with. Do things that match what they are doing. Match their rate of speech. Match their rate of breathing. Match their body language.

The idea is to get them thinking, on an unconscious level, that you and them a very much alike.

Here's another example.

Let's say you’re on a bus tour, of another country, where they don't speak any English. You go the restroom, and the bus leaves without you. You've got no money, no phone, and no clue.

Suddenly you see another person who looks like you. In fact, they are wearing a T-shirt with your home town on the front. They walk up and ask what happened. You tell them the bus left you, and you don't know what to do.

They give you directions. To a place a half mile away where you can catch another bus that will take you to your group. Do you believe them? You likely do.

But you don't know them! How you can believe a complete stranger?

Because you've got rapport. Because compared to everybody else around you, who are speaking in some kind of incomprehensible gibberish, not only do they speak your language, but they're also from your home town!

Now, do you consciously think, “Hey, this guy is just like me, I should trust him!”

Not likely. Instead, you just get a good feeling when he's talking. When he tells you to walk through the strange town, to the other bus stop, you don't feel worried, you feel relieved.

Some stranger that you've never met is telling you walk through a strange town filled with people who don't speak English, on your own, and you feel relieved.

All because of rapport.

So take your time with rapport. Take your time learning how to create it. One way is to choose people in social settings where people are sitting down.

Choose somebody few tables away, and just copy them. Don't look at them directly. Sit where you can see them in your peripheral vision. Just copy exactly what they do. Sit how they sit. Move how they move. Breathe how they breathe. Read like they read. Drink when and how they drink. Cough when they cough.

Practice when talking with friends and family members.

The biggest hang up in creating rapport is simply remembering to do it. Most people, when they initiate a persuasion based conversation, get nervous and anxious. They simply forget to slow down and create rapport.

A great mindset for creating rapport is compartmentalization. Break down the conversations into three parts. Rapport building, criteria, and closing. When you're in the rapport building, forget about the outcome for the moment. Just enjoy the other person. Speak about things generally. Don't fire up with a sales pitch just yet. Talk about the weather, their family, your family, anything. Just relax and enjoy them. Match them in as many ways as you can.

Now, if you do find a certain similarity in the conversation, be sure to point it out. But don't go overboard. Doing so will generate a kind of “fake” rapport.

“Oh, you like music? Wow! I like music too! We're so similar! Buy my product!”

Go easy. Remember, the process is unconscious, not conscious. It will happen as you match their body language and rate of speech and breathing.

If you're on the phone, it can be a bit trickier. But it still can be done. When you're in the process of “breaking state” and getting them to talk about what you'd like to talk about, you can use “pacing language.”

Pacing language basically means saying things that absolutely HAVE to be true.

For example. See if you can tell which of the following sentence is a pacing statement:

1. Last night you had pizza for dinner, and then you watched a football game on TV. 2. You ate some food previously, and after you finished eating, you did something else.

Obviously, it's number two, since you had to have eaten something recently, or else you'd be dead. And you had to have done something after you ate, otherwise you'd be in some other dimension.

The first sentence might be true, but not likely.

If you're on the phone, then pacing to create rapport and breaking state can be done at the same time.

For example, if they filled out a card in the back of a magazine for information on life insurance, you can mention that during the first part of the conversation. The idea is that whatever you say, (during the pacing or rapport building stage) it's got to be something that they will agree with, at least in their mind.

So, given the example above (filling out a card for information on life insurance), some pacing statements might be:

  • You saw our ad in a magazine
  • You are interested in life insurance
  • You have some concerns about your financial future
  • You'd like your family to be taken care of financially after you're gone

You can also add “leading statements,” where you say things that are likely true, and then preface them with a “maybe” or a “perhaps.” Remember as much as possible, you want them thinking “yes…yes…yes…” as you're talking.

If you accidentally say something that's not true, they'll think “yes…yes…no!” and then you've broken rapport. Continuing with the above example, here are some potential “leading statements”:

  • You might be worried about the economy
  • Maybe you aren't sure if you've saved enough
  • Perhaps you have some concerns about your family’s future

When you say three or four sentences that MUST be true (so they are thinking “yes…yes…yes”) and then follow those up with some sentences that are LIKELY true, something amazing will happen. They will feel as if you are talking to them directly, and you know all of their fears and worries and desires. That you truly understand them.

This will make it much easier to persuade them to do what you're suggesting.

Elicit and Magnify Criteria

Criteria are the underlying reason for all human action. All humans are driven by desire. No matter who you are, where you are, what you're doing, or what you have, you want something. Even just sitting there (or standing or lying or jumping there as the case may be) you are constantly shifting, moving, and thoughts are running through your mind about the future.

All humans always want something. We are driven by endless desire. Eating, relieving ourselves, sleeping, waking up, buying things, changing the channel. Everything we do, every single action we take is to satisfy some kind of unmet need.

The specific description of those unmet needs is our criteria. That which we want. We have a raw desire in our stomach for food, and the criteria are the qualities and quantities and type of food that will satisfy our desire.

Desire and its accompanying criteria can be wholly manifested by our own minds, or it can be completely conjured up by advertising, marketing and social proof. We see somebody with some kind of product that we never knew existed a second ago, but the smile on their face, combined with all the other people we see with that same product create a desire within us for that product.

(By the way, if you happen to be a marketer or an advertiser, and you can create this effect for any product, you can make yourself a kajillion dollars. True story.)

The idea behind any persuasion is to find an overlap in criteria between you, and the person you are intending to persuade.

If you are selling things in a shop, this is pretty easy. You want their money, they want whatever you're selling, and you make a trade. Easy peasy.

This is one end of the spectrum, where overt persuasion is hardly required. In professions that generally require a good deal of persuasion, such as insurance sales or car sales, these types of wonderful people are called “laydowns.”

Meaning they come in, they've already done their research, and they know exactly what they want, how much they are willing to pay, and they know that you've got it at that price. They walk in and five minutes later you've got yourself a fat commission.

Unfortunately, it rarely works out this way!

(As an interesting aside, I used to sell cars. More often than not, people that walked in who were super easy to persuade, and super willing to buy stuff without much resistance, usually had absolutely terrible credit!)

Well, that's only partially true. Persuading and selling like most people naturally do, or are taught to do, doesn't usually work out like it does in the textbooks or in the seminars.

That's because the client’s criteria is assumed, rather than elicited. (Just to make things easy, in this section we'll be referring to the person you are persuading as the “client” although they could be anybody, from your 5 year old, to that gorgeous girl you want to take home.)

Take a typical car sales strategy. (Trust me I know from experience!)

What your typical salesperson is taught to do is go over an extensive list of “features and benefits.” You rattle of the features, and then say what the benefit is. It usually comes across something like this:

“Well, this car has a 400 liter engine, eight cylinders tipped with weapons grade kryptonite, and what that means to you is that you'll be able to accelerate really fast when the light turns green, so you'll be able to impress all your friends!”

The only problem is that the poor customer might not be interested in driving fast, or impressing their friends! The salespeople know this, so their strategy is to spit out as many “features and benefits” as they possibly can, hoping they'll get a couple right.

If you're selling something with as many potential features and benefits as a car, this CAN work.

But most customers don't want to listen to you prattle on and on about what they don't want. They want to hear you talk about what they DO want.

Enter Criteria

Before you do any kind of persuasion, it's crucial to elicit their criteria. Simply find out what they want.

Now, unless you're working for McDonalds, and the answer to, “What do you want?” is “A Big Mac Value Pac with Extra Ketchup,” they're not going to be sure.

That's actually a GOOD thing. Why? Keep reading!

Think of whatever you have like the plus side of a magnet. And think of their unmet criteria as the minus side of a magnet.

Now, most people have vague criteria, which mean the strength of their particular magnet is going to be relatively weak.

But the more you get them talking about their criteria, (without even mentioning yours) their “magnet' will get stronger and stronger.

And no matter WHAT they're original criteria is, by sufficiently magnifying it they'll be super attracted to whatever you've got!

Why? It's based on our filters, and how we perceive the world through those filters. For example, it's long been known that sex sells. Even if you are selling pancake mix, a hot girl promoting the pancake mix will get a lot more sales than some old fat guy with a wife-beater t-shirt.


Because all of us, males and females, are subconsciously attracted to an attractive woman. Study after study has shown that hot women sell more to both men AND women. So we see that hot woman, and we have this deep attraction. Then we see that pancake mix THROUGH the filter of deep sexual attraction.

This, of course, fires up our desire for the pancake mix (or the car or gym membership or whatever she's selling.) How does this apply to criteria?

When a client first walks into your shop, maybe to buy something, maybe not, they've likely got some mixed filters. Remember, they are looking at you, and your products, through their filters. (We'll use a shop as an example, but this also applies to selling or persuading anybody for any reason).

When you start talking to them about what they WANT, they'll soon start seeing YOU and YOUR PRODUCTS through the filters of their own DESIRE.

And just like we can subconsciously attach sexual desire to pancake batter, they'll attach their OWN desire, to YOUR products.

Humans are always making connections and associations. So when you stand there, talking to them, and they are talking about their desires, what they want, and all the good things that will happen once they get them, they'll subconsciously associate them with you.

Meaning even before you start talking about your product or service, they'll already have assumed, on a subconscious level, that you've got it.

This is when the Meta Model comes in incredibly handy. The Meta Model is simply a group of questions to get more specific information.

They say they want a car, you ask them what kind of car. They say they're interested in something to eat, you ask them what specifically would they like to eat.

These are generally the “Wh-” questions (why, who, where, which, how, why, what).

Whenever you hear a vague noun or verb, just get more specific information.

Here are some simple examples.

Last night I had some chicken for dinner.

  • What kind of chicken? How was it cooked? Where did you eat it?

I'd like to go on a vacation.

  • Where would you like to go? How long would you like to go for? How much of a budget do you have?

I need more intimacy.

  • How much intimacy? What kind of intimacy? Under what specific conditions?

I'd like more freedom.

  • What kind of freedom? Freedom from what? Freedom from whom? For how long? At what cost?

I think we should take a break.

  • For how long? What kind of break? What are we taking a break from?

I think businesses are evil.

  • How specifically are they evil? What specifically do they do that makes them evil? How evil are they?

Making money is hard.

  • How specifically is it hard? Who is it hard for? How long is it hard for?

You get the idea, right? Once you start talking to them about their criteria, you'll want to elicit their “higher order criteria.”

For example, if they say they want a car, you ask them what's most important to them when they think about their ideal car.

They say “safety.”

So you know their first order criterion is “safety.” Then you ask them what they'll get when they have “safety.”

To this they may say, “Well, I won't have to worry about anything hurting my family.”

Then you might ask what they'll feel when they know their family is safe. To which they may say,

“When my family is safe, I'll finally relax, and be happy, so I can enjoy life.”

So for this particular client, in this particular example, their three criteria are:

  • Safety
  • Family Is Not Hurt
  • Relax and Enjoy Life

So they're ultimately not looking for a “car” or even a “safe car.”

They're looking for a feeling. Some deep, vague but very powerful feeling, and when they start talking in terms of those feelings, that are important to them, expressed in their own words, you can literally sell them anything, so long as it can be legitimately described as “safe.”

It's crucial to elicit these criteria in a very slow, roundabout, relaxed, conversational way. Don't ask them like you're in some kind of interrogation.

If you've done the necessary work of creating rapport, meaning they feel safe talking to you, and you feel safe talking to them, this should be easy.

It's crucial to give them plenty of validation for their desires. Don't ask them why they have them, or try and tell them they should have “other” desires, just simply accept them, and validate them as important.

Search your own history for experiences (yours or of those close to you) where you found those criteria were very important.

Spend some time on each individual criteria “level” and talk about it for at least a few minutes.

This will deepen rapport, and help them fire up those powerfully magnetic filters.

Specific Steps to Elicit Criteria

Pure Sales Situation - Warm Leads

The easiest way to do this is with “warm leads.” These are people that have expressed an interest in your type of product, but they aren't really sure yet.

They might be interested in insurance, but they're not sure what type, or how much, or anything.

They might be interested in a car, but they're not really sure what model, what type, etc.

Let's use the insurance example. They come in to the office, or you get them on the phone.

You mention that they've sent in some kind of request for insurance. To start, just ask them what kind of insurance they're looking for. You can preface it like this, so they don't feel on the spot:

“Well, Mr. Client, you asked for some information about insurance, is that correct? Great. Just so I know whether or not we can really help you, as we have a lot of different kinds of insurance, I'd like to ask you a few questions, is that OK? Great. So, what kind of insurance are you thinking about?”

They'll give you some answer, let's say “Life Insurance.” Now if you ask them what kind of life insurance they are after, they might not know, and might feel a bit put off.

So ask them what they are trying to achieve instead. Then take some time discussing their needs, until you settle on a type of product, (Whole Life or Term Life, for example).

Then ask them something like this:

“OK, so it seems like Term Life would be perfect for you. So let me ask you this, just to make sure this really is what you want. When you imagine having the perfect life insurance policy in place, how do you see that? How do you represent that?”

They'll give you some kind of answer, which you absolutely accept as valid.

“Fantastic, I can totally see that. Now, let me ask you this, as you imagine that policy, just how you said it, what do you have, that you don't have now?”

Meaning what kind of feeling or what kind vague criteria will this insurance will be satisfying.

Then just go through this process a couple of times, like the car example above, until you've got a few specific words, which describe some vague feeling they are after.

Social Persuasion - Cold Approaches

This works great in sales situations, but what about creating relationships? If you see a girl, should you ask her, “So, what specifically are you looking for in a one night stand?” Probably not!

However, you are in luck. Everybody's got something they want. And luckily, one of those things that we ALL want are solid relationships with people we enjoy being with, whatever that means to you or whomever you're talking to.

Just like we all have some ideas of what we're looking for when we're out shopping, we also have a deep sense of what we want when we are talking to others socially. When we are shopping, we have conscious criteria that we've created or decided upon by our conscious and logical process. Your job as a persuader is to take those logically derived criteria, and get to the emotionally charged, higher order criteria that are underneath them.

However, when we are socially persuading, it's largely an unconscious process. Most people meet people that they just “click” with, meaning they aren't sure why or how. But what's going on is the same process, even though it's unconscious. When we meet somebody, and we just “click” with them, it's because we are satisfying each other's criteria without really thinking about it.

You don't really walk up to somebody, and exchange a list of each other's “type.” You just kind of talk to each other. We present ourselves, through conversation, at the same time we're “feeling out” the other person, through conversation.

If we “click,” that means we mutually agree, on an unconscious level, that we are each other's “type” and that we satisfy each other's criteria.

However, you can still use the same process as eliciting criteria, which will give you a much better chance of being the other person's “type.”

How do you do this?

Simply find out what they are interested in. Find out their wishes, hopes, and dreams for the future, short term or long term.

Of course, since this is a social situation, you'll have to do this a bit on the down low, but it still works like magic. Just have a normal conversation, talking about regular, surface level things. Ask about their hobbies, their job, their education, anything that you can conceivably connect to the future. It's best if these can come up naturally, otherwise they'll think you're working some angle. Just let the conversation move however it moves, and keep your ears peeled for these types of topics.

Then simply ask them about their ideal future, with regards to that particular topic.

For example, let's say you're talking to a girl or a guy, and they mention they like to paint, as a hobby.

You'll need to create some kind of timeline, so you can point it into the future.

Ask them how they got started, how much they've improved, the different techniques they've learned, etc. Then ask them if everything went perfectly, how they would seem themselves, as a painter, in two or three years.

Talk in detail about their ideal future. Use the Meta Model questions to ask about their ideal future. Accept everything they say as valid. (This is NOT the time to use the “cocky and funny” routine!)

Ask the “magic wand” question. Ask them if they had a magic wand they could create the perfect future, with regards to painting, what would it look like?

Then you can fire off all the Meta Model questions about their future, so they full engage in it. This will really fire up their imagination, and guess what? They'll associate all those wonderful feelings with you!

Eliciting and Magnifying Criteria for Sales Cold Approaches

There's a lot of money to be made in network marketing, door to door sales, or telephone sales. But this is a bit tricky, as they aren't “warm leads” like previously discussed.

When you find yourself in this kind of situation, it's best to choose a halfway point between the warm lead angle, where you know what kind of product they are after, and the social approach, where you simply talk about positive things in the future.

If you try the social approach, you'll generate good feelings, but they won’t' necessarily be interested in buying anything from you. And if you bring it up, they'll quickly go cold.

I use to live in Korea, and in my town there were very few foreigners. So one day I was walking down the street and I saw a couple of Mormons. They came up and started talking to me.

Because we were the only three English speakers within a few kilometers, we each fell into deep rapport. They seemed keen to speak English, as was I.

We immediately started talking about our home towns, where we were from, how long we'd been in Korea, and it was going very smoothly. A very nice conversation with quick and deep rapport.

Then they came out with their pitch (Have you thought about your future with Jesus?) and BOOM!

The conversation suddenly turned ice cold; I excused myself, and left.

The moral of the story is while it might feel safe to do so, don't hide your product or service behind any kind of regular social conversation. They'll feel “tricked” if they find out you were trying to sell them something.

So, what do you do?

Within the first few seconds of introducing yourself, you've got to throw out some kind of vague benefit statement. Say, for example, you're at a book store. You represent a network marketing group that provides in-home water filters, as well as an opportunity to make a decent income promoting those water filters.

You see them looking at a book on fitness. You think of something that you can share about yourself along those lines.

So you may say, “Have you read that book? I heard it's pretty intense. My friend lost a few pounds in a similar program. My name's George.”

Then wait for them to respond.

“I represent a group that provides healthy water solutions as well as a very lucrative business opportunity. It's easy to get started and quite a few people start making money right away, as well as drinking a lot more healthy water. Is that something you're interested in?”

Then let them answer. If they say, “no,” there's not much you can do.

But even if they say “maybe,” then you've got something to work with. Just continue talking. Only now they know what you're all about, so you can work on building some rapport. You can talk about their health plans, health ideas, and then gently start asking questions about their job or financial situation.

Remember, don't say anything else about your business or opportunity until you've elicited several criteria from them, and expanded them sufficiently.

How will you know when you're “doing this right?”

When you ask questions, and they give you long answers. Whenever they start talking on and on about things they want, things they are hoping to achieve, then you know you've created some good feelings.

If they start giving you short, one or two word answers, then you've got to back up and build more rapport.

As long as they've agreed to talk to you AFTER you mentioned you were promoting some kind of product or service (even if you haven't quite said what it was) you can spend as much time as you want talking about what they want with regards to the “theme” of your conversational opener (in this particular example, drinking healthy water and making an income).

As you can likely guess, there's no specific, step by step way to do this, other than to get them talking about what's important to them BEFORE you start pitching your product or service.

Once you start getting those long answers, and you start getting into higher level criteria, then you can recommend your product or service.

Eliciting Criteria - Basic Outline

Keep these points in mind whenever eliciting criteria:

1) After establishing rapport, and introducing the “theme” ask them what is important to them. 2) Get them talking about an ideal future, where all of their plans have come true. 3) Find out what they will accomplish once their plans have come true. 4) Find out what they are “really” after. 5) Use Meta Model patterns to get them more specific about their ideal future. 6) Look for clues, like long answers given with lots of positive energy. 7) Let their answers give you clues for more questions. 8) Be sure to validate and agree with their reasoning and desires. 9) Think of plenty of personal examples to give to show you agree with their desires and intentions. 10) Always remember than all people have an unlimited set of wants and needs. 11) Always remember that people LOVE talking about their wants and needs. 12) Resist the urge to talk about your product or service until they've sufficiently magnetized their desires.

Leverage Criteria

When it comes time to talk brass tacks, or turkey, or whatever other sales metaphor you like, you'll need to leverage their criteria.

If you've done a decent job building rapport and eliciting criteria, all you've got to do is show them whatever you've got is a perfect match for what they are looking for.

Remember, people's criteria, especially their higher order criteria will be pretty vague. If they only give you some very specific criteria, that can only mean one of two things. The first is that they've already done a lot of thinking and research, and truly know exactly what they want. In this case, unless you have exactly what they want, for a price they think is reasonable, no amount of sales or persuasion technology is going to help.

The other reason you might be getting overly specific criteria is they aren't feeling very much rapport, and they don't really feel comfortable enough to share their deepest wants and desires. If this is the case, simply back up, re-establish rapport, and start over again. However, if you've gone through a long process and they're still not willing to give anything other than specific criteria, they may not be worth the effort.

You'll know if you have rapport early on. You'll feel it, and they'll feel it. This is something that if you have to ask, you don't have it.

So, how do you leverage criteria?

In the last section we talked about listening very carefully when they are describing their criteria. They'll be using certain words that are very important to them, based on their own subjective values.

All you've got to do is remember what those words are, and then use those same words, spoken exactly as they've used them (or as close as possible) to describe your product or service.

Those words that they use to describe their most important criteria, which they say with special emphasis and importance, are often called “trance words.”

There's no right or wrong way to do this. Just describe the product, and weave their language into your product or service description.

A great way to do that is through describing how other customers told you what they thought about it.

For example, if their trance words are “safety,” “freedom,” and “relaxation,” and you turn right around and say:

“Yes, Mr. Customer, when you buy this product, you'll feel a deep sense of safety and freedom, and what's more, you'll feel incredible relaxation.”

This specific sentence would be a bit too over the top, and they'd likely think they were being conned.

On the other hand, if you search through your memory to any previous customers that mentioned any words similar to these when describing the product, then that will be much more congruent.

For example, you might say:

“I just got a call yesterday from one of my clients, and she was telling me how much safety she finds in this. At first she didn't really think that was much of a concern, but when she did see how her other family members were so concerned with safety, it really made her feel like buying this was a good decision.”

One of the things that is programmed deeply into the human brain is the ability to see cause and effect relationships, or what are called “Complex Equivalents” when none really exist.

For example, you might be walking down the street, when you decide whistle a certain tune that you haven't whistled in a while. Then you look down and find some money.

Now consciously, none of us would really believe that whistling a certain tune would cause money to appear at our feet. But you would certainly have a strange feeling any time you heard that particular tune in the future, as if it were now your “lucky song.”

This is precisely where superstitions arise, when we put too much emphasis on randomly occurring events.

Complex Equivalents are the same way. Sometimes, instead of thinking “this causes that” we think in terms of “this means that.”

People look at us funny on the street, we give somebody a compliment and they ignore us, we get a thin letter from our bank and think it means that something horrible has happened.

Most of the time these imagined cause and effect relationships are happening below our conscious awareness.

But when you practice and become skilled in these patterns you can easily create “cause and effect” or “this means that” feelings in your customers.

What cause-effect relationships will you be creating?

Buying my product will cause you to meet your criteria! Buying my services means you are getting what you want! Of course, this seems very manipulative and indeed it can be misused. That's why it's absolutely crucial when selling a product or service that you really and truly believe that it will satisfy the criteria of your customers.

Believe it or not, once people get into rapport, and they open up enough to share their deepest desires, it is fairly easy to take advantage of them.

This is so powerful that this can be done at a distance, like on some of those infomercials. They are tapping criteria in various ways that are common to everybody. (Belonging, sex, money, recognition, validation, etc.).

But be warned. While these techniques and language patterns can be used for some short term gains, unless you are leaving the country soon, and never plan on coming back, you will eventually feel the wrath of plenty of angry customers.

Think of the stereotypical snake oil salesman. He is using the exact same procedure as we’ve been talking about. He breaks state by calling out to people to stop and look at him and his products.

He creates rapport by speaking kindly and compassionately to the people (or so it seems). He does this by mentioning all the common ills of humanity (which makes it seem like he knows precisely what is bothering them, which presupposes that he knows what will cure them).

He knows their criteria already, since it's the common criteria to all people, usually common health concerns. He leverages the criteria to his magic elixir, which the customers readily buy.

But think of any kind of picture in your mind of this whole process. This is usually done on or very near some kind of transportation device. The back of a covered wagon, some portable stall on the side of the street.

The reason for this is clear. He wants to sell as much of his junk as he can, before he gets out of Dodge. He doesn't take the time to set up shop because he knows the locals would burn it down once they realize he's selling colored water.

But in this day and age, it's nearly impossible to high tail it to the next town.

In fact, a newspaper report did an in depth study of con artists, schemers and grifters. A common misconception is that these guys are making all kinds of money.

But the opposite is true. While it is fairly easy to make plenty of short term sales, it usually dries up when people get wise to the con.

On the other hand, when you are selling a quality product or service, that truly fulfills the criteria of your customers, a couple of fantastic things will happen.

One is that they'll feel as if you've given them special attention that few people, let alone salespeople have given them. You've actually listened to what they want, and why they want it, BEFORE you even started talking about your product or service.

Two is that because you effectively “hooked” their criteria to your product, they feel as if they really ARE getting what they want, and they really WILL be satisfied.

This means that they will not only forever be glad they bought something from you, but they will tell all their friends as well.

If your business is in any way based on referrals or social media, this will significantly increase your sales.


No matter what we do, we are going to have resistance. Even if we are all alone, and considering doing something that is totally safe and the outcome is virtually guaranteed, we will have resistance.

Why? Because of the simple nature of reality. We are never 100% certain of what is going to happen in the future. And at the same time, while we are thinking about doing something or getting something to change our current state, there's still part of us that likes our current state.

Think of waking up early in the morning, maybe a couple of hours before the alarm is set to off. You'd like to go back to sleep, but you are thirsty. Part of you thinks you can go back to sleep, no problem, but another part of you wants to get up and get a drink.

What you want is that drink of cool water that's in your water bottle in the fridge.

Your objections are any reasons you come up with that keep you from getting up and getting it.

You may lay there for five or ten minutes, until you get up and get a drink. In this case, you've overcome your own objections.

Or, on the other hand, you may decide you'd rather go back to sleep. Even though you wanted the water, your objections kept you where you were.

This same process plays out whenever we think about doing something.

In NLP there's this idea of “parts.” Meaning there are ALWAYS parts of us that want to do something to change our state. This can be as simple as shifting in your chair, getting up to use the restroom, or getting a drink from the fridge. For every “part” that wants to take action, there's another “part” who wants to stay put.

We even say this to ourselves. “Part of me wants to go out, but another part of me wants to stay home and watch TV.” These can also be incredibly drawn out and complicated tasks like losing weight, changing careers, or even moving to another country.

In NLP, they say that every “part” of you is trying to achieve a positive outcome. The part that wants change is sure you'll be better off after the change.

The part that doesn't want change is sure you'll be worse off after the change, or the process of getting the change will be more costly than the change will be beneficial.

So these “parts” are always battling within us, at all times. Choosing a movie to watch, choosing a pair of shoes to buy (or even wear), or choosing whether or not to ask your partner to marry you, this internal battle is simply part of being human.

Understanding this is a key to successful persuasion.


Because often times salespeople, persuaders, or seducers will take rejection personally. They think they've got the ideal product, or they think they've got the ideal idea, or they think dating them is the most logical think there is. But they don't take into account that the other person they are intending to persuade has objections before they do ANYTHING. We all do. All the time. Even right now. Part of you wants to keep reading, but part of you wants to do something else.

So whenever you persuade, it's always crucial to keep in mind that:

1) They ARE going to have objections, either stated or not. 2) Understanding WHAT those objections are will help you considerably. 3) Being able to “overcome” those objections is an essential skill of persuasion.

However, let's consider the “overcoming objections” part.

Many sales people consider objections as a bad thing.

But are they?

Whenever you get an objection from somebody, this is a sign of rapport. If they didn't feel comfortable with you, they wouldn't be telling you their objections.

All objections are internal, and very private. So unless they are lying to you just to get rid of you, you may consider seeing the objection as a cry for help.


Imagine going on date. You pick your date up at their house, and you are walking to your car.

You get in your side, and they say, “Hey, the door's locked!”

This, in a sense, is an objection. Through your actions, you are suggesting they get into the car with you.

The objection, the voicing of what's preventing them from doing that, is that the door is locked.

Now, in this situation, it's clear that “The door is locked,” really means “I want to get in the car with you, but I can't, because the door is locked, so please open it.”

It's easy to see in this example that the objection is really them asking you to “fix” whatever is causing the objection.

In sales, it's very similar. If somebody is thinking about buying a product, and they say, “I'd like to buy it, but it's a little out of my price range.”

This is absolutely FANTASTIC!


Because admitting your own financial weakness to a near stranger requires a lot of rapport.

And it means they really DO want the product. Which means if it were cheaper, they’d buy it in a heartbeat. But what they really might be saying is that you can either lower the price of the product, or you can do something to make it more valuable, in their eyes.

Since value is pretty subjective, once you get the “it's too expensive” objection, you're nearly there.

You just need to do a little work to build up the value. In order to say “something is too expensive,” that means they've already imagined, in their mind, buying it and liking it at a cheaper price.

Most salespeople cringe when they hear this, as they assume it's insurmountable. But it really means you're nearly there.

Back when I used to sell cars, getting them to say “It's too expensive,” was a very effective tactic.

They'd look at it, and say “I don't know” or something else non-committal.

The trick was to get them to commit to buying it a much lower price.

It would usually go something like this. We'd show them the car, take it out for a ride, and then get them inside to talk about price. They wouldn't say anything one way or another. Then we would say something like this:

“Look, Mr. Customer, I understand buying a car is a big deal. It's something you'll be paying for at least three or four years, so totally understand you want to make sure you're getting exactly what you want. Just so I know I'm not wasting your time here with this particular car, imagine the price was half off the sticker. If the price was $20,000 instead of $40,000, would you buy the car right now?”

Now, if the customer still didn't say anything, then this was a big signal that they didn't really want this car at any price. Game over.

If they kind of sort of said “Yes,” after some hesitation, then we knew that meant they probably didn't want that particular car, or maybe they had a problem with the salesperson, or there wasn’t enough rapport.

But if they automatically and quickly said “Yes!” as if that would be a great bargain (getting something they really wanted at half price) then we knew it was a matter of increasing value while and decreasing price until we got to a happy medium.

Since they had already imagined, in their mind, buying a car at half price, it was simply a matter of doubling the value of the car, or bringing it up as much as possible, so in their mind the sticker price (or whatever negotiated price) seemed like a decent deal.

Now, a car sale is kind of confrontational, and it can be highly manipulative.

This example is only to illustrate that once you get a stated, honest objection, you're nearly there.

They are not roadblocks, they are not the end of the presentation, they are not a signal you are about to get rejected.

Think of those parts. Instead of seeing the person as the enemy, see the person, AND their parts.

You want them to take action. They want to take action. One of their parts wants to take action. All you've got to do is enlist the other part's help in convincing that objecting part that they really will come out ahead.

You and their action taking part need to convince their non-action taking part that it's safe, and they really will get what they want.

You'll be able to pace them, understand them, and then show them how there's really nothing to worry about. When you think of persuasion in terms of finding what they want, and showing them how doing what you suggest will get you BOTH what you want, so you are BOTH out ahead, objections really are a lot of fun.

Instead of some kind of confrontation, you'll feel like you are really helping people to get what they want.

Once you help somebody overcome their objections, they will feel a sigh of relief, as they can finally get what they want without anxiety or worry, and they'll have YOU to thank.

And if you're selling things to people, you'll not only be making people feel really good, but you’ll also be getting paid.

A lot!


The natural end of any sales presentation or any kind of persuasion, (which we've learned ALL language is) is the close.

If you are selling a product or service, then you overtly ask the client to make a purchase.

If you trying to pick up a guy or a girl, then you “number” close, or “kiss” close or any other close.

However, the great thing about using these criteria based persuasion techniques is that closing will be the easiest part.

If you're selling something, and you create enough rapport and elicit criteria, and get them talking about their criteria and leverage it to your product or service, you won't likely need to do a lot of closing.

Imagine that you've decided to buy a cheeseburger. You walk in the store and place your order.

Does the person working behind the counter worry about “closing” you?

Absolutely not!

If you are talking to somebody that you are madly in love or lust with, and they lean over to kiss you, do they need to overcome your objections, or use some of goofy line to get their face close to yours?

Absolutely not!

Any kind of closing technique or strategy presupposes that there's resistance.

But the whole process of creating rapport, eliciting criteria, and leveraging criteria is to remove any resistance anyway. If you do this thoroughly enough, they'll naturally buy whatever you're selling without any resistance.

That being said, it can still be difficult to “spit it out.” Even if you're sitting on your couch with a guy or a girl who you KNOW is into you, it still can be difficult leaning in for the kiss.

Even when your client is sitting there with a happy look on their face, it still can be a bit difficult to say, “So, would you like to buy this today?”

So here's a few simple ways to “close” with zero pressure. The technique is to give them a “yes” or “no” choice and just let them make the decision.

Even if they ARE fired up to buy whatever you're selling, if you come on too strong, you may ruin everything you've created.

Part of persuasion is being artful enough so they feel in control the whole time. While it is a boost to the ego to be recognized as a super powerful sales ninja who can sell dirt to farmers or ice to penguins, that's generally not the easiest way.

So just say something like this:

“Well, it seems that this product satisfies all of your criteria, and it's a pretty good match for what you're looking for. Would you like to buy this now, or not?” Now, it may seem terrifying to say the “or not” part, but this will actually increase your closing percentage.

If you leave off the “or not” part, they will feel “on the spot.” Even if they want it, even if they afford it, even if they like you personally, when you put them on the spot, that will take away a LOT of the magic you've just created. When you add on the “or not,” and say it as if it makes no difference to you, they'll still feel in control, as if they are the ones choosing, rather than being “sold to” and they'll be much more likely to make a purchase.

If they hesitate to answer, that only means you haven't taken care of all of their objections or you haven't gotten all the criteria just right. No worries, just back up a little, and keep talking.

You could say something like this:

“No problem, I see you're still deciding. I totally understand. I don't like buying things either if I'm not completely sure this is the right thing. This is a kind of weird question, but if you had a magic wand, what would be the perfect scenario that would make you feel comfortable enough to buy this now?”

And then just listen to what they say.

Another technique you can use is to future pace. Meaning ask them to imagine a time in the future, and ask them what the best things are, and worst things are about owning the product. Then when they are in the future (in their imagination) ask them to look back to now, and see if making the decision to buy this was a good decision or not. However, in any kind of social situation, you've just got to take a risk and see what happens. But if you've done a good job talking about things they are important to them, and things that fire them, you should have a pretty good idea of whether or not you'll be successful.

Test Closes

Often times it's easy to get lost in the process without noticing what's happening to their energy. Sometimes people are ready to buy, but the salesperson just keeps talking, and actually turns down their buying temperature. It's always good to “measure” how ready they are along the way. This is pretty easy both in sales and social influence.

In sales you can use “embedded questions.”

This is when you take a question that you'd use if you asked them directly to buy the product, and simply put it in a larger sentence, or use the “quotes pattern” to ask them.

For example, let's say the question you'd like them to ask is, “Are you ready to buy this?”

Now, if you're halfway through your presentation, and you ask them directly, and they say no, then you might be in trouble.

But if you mix it in with a larger sentence, you simply pay close attention to their facial expressions.

So if you say something like this, “Well, I don't know if you're ready to buy this now, but let me show you this one feature that's pretty cool.”

Then when you say the “buy this now” part, simply pay close attention to their facial expression and body language.

If they become more open, you're in pretty good shape, and it may be time for a real close. But if they close off slightly, or get a terrified look on their face, then you've just got to do more work on their criteria.

Or you could try the quotes pattern. This is where you quote somebody else talking to somebody else, and when the one person says something to the other person, you look at the client and act as if you are saying to them.

(Wait, what?)

For example, let's say you've got a coworker named Bob. You could say something to your client like this:

“I've got this colleague named Bob, who is really aggressive in his techniques. He only spends about ten minutes talking to clients, and then he looks right at them and says, 'You should buy this right now!', which I think is pretty forward. Anyway, let me tell you about this next feature.”

And as above, when you say, “Buy this now,” simply pay attention to their body language and facial expressions.

Social Test Closes

If you’re using these in social persuasion situations, you can use them the same way.

Here are a couple examples.

“I don't know if you want to give me your phone number, but I might be getting some tickets to that concert the other night.”

“I've got this friend who's really aggressive, he walks right up to girls and says, 'I think you're really cute, you should give me your number!' and it actually works sometimes!”

However, the absolute BEST way to “test close” when doing a romantic type persuasion is kino-escalation. This is simply when you touch the person you're speaking with, and see how they respond.

Once I was on a second date with this really pretty girl, and I was having a hard time figuring how she felt about me. I noticed she was wearing a really nice watch, and we were eating lunch in a restaurant.

I said, “Hey, that's pretty nice watch, where did you get it?” And as I did, I reached over and touched her slightly on the wrist.

She pulled her hand away like she'd stuck it in molten lava!

Needless to say, she wasn't into me nearly as much as I was into her.

But if I hadn't done that, I could have wasted a lot more time and money without getting anywhere.

Compared to traditional sales, in romance, often times it's either there or it isn't. That person is either feeling you, or they aren't.

So “testing” like this early on can save both people a lot of time.


In this overview you've learned the basic outlines of persuasion. You've also learned that all communication, on some level, is based on persuasion. Somebody trying to get something from somebody else, be it validation, approval, or a million dollar contract.

So long as you focus on what the other person wants first, you can't lose.

Many people seek some kind of “magic formula,” some kind of memorized string to words to spit out and get a specific result.

But consider this. Learning the structure of persuasion, and the various language patterns and strategies that comprise them is very much like learning a sport.

And not a sport like golf or bowling, where you don't have an opponent in your face. More like a fast moving and confrontational sport similar to boxing or martial arts. You could try and remember a specific set of moves in a specific order, but they would be no good against somebody who had a particular fighting style against whom those moves didn't have any effect.

In reality, it's best to practice these language patterns just like you would a martial art. Practice each individual pattern on its own, like a drill. Like a specific punch or block.

Then when you're in the middle of a persuasion, you'll have the unconscious flexibility to identify any criteria, counter any objection, and know when to move in for the close. Now, speaking in terms of martial arts can make it seem like persuading is manipulative, deceptive or confrontational.

It can be, but it doesn't have to be. So long as you've got their criteria in mind, you won't fail.

Remember the parts? When thinking in terms of martial arts, or using different linguistic “moves” to counter their resistance, think in terms of you, the persuader, and them, the hopeful buyer vs. the part of them that is afraid to move forward.

You aren't trying to defeat or hurt that part. You aren't trying to overcome them with your power.

You are trying to help them.

Don't see clients, customers or potential lovers as the enemy. See them as who they really are. Ordinary people, just like you, who are desperate to get their needs fulfilled. With the information in this article, you will easily be able to do that.

One question I often get is “How long does this take?” People want to learn this stuff, and they want to learn it FAST.

Often times they'd like to memorize a bunch of patterns in a weekend and then go out and have instant and massive success.

But please consider this.

Your language is part of who you are. The more persuasive you become with your language, the better you'll be able to not only get your own needs met, but help all of those around you get theirs met as well.

Will you EVER be satisfied with your level of persuasion? I hope not. The more you practice, the better you get, the better you'll WANT to get.

Helping people feels wonderful. Getting paid while helping people can feel even better. Once you start to see the real power of these patterns and the underlying structure of persuasion, you'll NEVER want to stop learning. You'll see learning these patterns, these structures, and all they can help you accomplish as a lifelong process.

So take it slow. Take your time. Start small, and let your momentum build naturally. Once you start getting positive feedback from those around you (consciously and unconsciously) you will never have to worry about motivation again.

Categories: Lifestyle

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