Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alexander Technique Principles in Selling: 7. Calibration

Yasuhiro-sensei, a graduate of BodyChance, has recently completed the translation of Part I of Alexander’s Conscious Constructive Control of the Individual. (A cause for rejoicing on it’s own. Soon Japan will have full translations of all four books, funded by our online book courses. Is there another country with that?)

The first part of Alexander’s book is all about subconscious guidance of behaviour. For years I found these ideas muddled and slightly tiresome, that is until I read Robert Cialdini’s seminal classic Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Cialdini blew the fog out my confused mind…

Robert, by his own admission, was a patsy: persuaders could convince him to do things he’d later regret. Ever happened to you? Wondered what was going on? It was Cialdini’s question too, so rather than stay a patsy, he spent three years immersing himself into the world of vacuum cleaner salesman, sales trainers, public relations, fund raising etc.; studying the methods they used to get a person to “yes” (see my previous blog about being a “yes” person).

Cialdini's conclusion: most buying is driven unconsciously, by ancient areas of the brain that evolved long before “Supreme Inheritance” had its human debut. Just as Alexander pointed out. So here’s what you need to understand: few people buy by logic. Of course, once you are emotionally committed to buying, logic kicks in to justify it. Your mind is very clever at convincing you that “…although I already have 14 pairs of sunglasses, I don’t have a dark pair that wraps around my eyes for really bright days…” Or some such nonsense. You need to find a “reason,” but your buying decision is already made.

Alexander’s final discovery, that behaviour is calibrated and driven by your feelings, is an insight that is hugely relevant to selling. You may be consciously (with a pre-planned sales funnel) in a process of engineering a result (selling your service) even though your process (using the emotional hook to influence a person’s decision) is not being consciously understood by your potential student.

Sounds dodgy, but wait!

That reads a whole lot like an actual Alexander Technique lesson. How many pupils actually consciously get what you are doing, right at the moment you are doing it? The feeling happens, then wonder and questions start. It’s what happens, right? Isn’t our “Alexander” process all about bringing them to a conscious understanding? Or any learning process in fact. The point is - ignorance is the starting point. Every time you use your hands, feeling is trumping logic for a little while.

So if it is OK in teaching, what makes it not OK in selling? Ethics of course. In teaching you have a morally sound, ethically true and legal reason to be doing what you are doing. I wish the same could be said of sales, but it simply isn’t the case. Which is why selling gets such a bad rap. However, the truth will set you free…

Alexander Technique teachers need to understand that 80% of their pupils will decide to take lessons emotionally, not logically. Today there is overwhelming evidence from social scientists - many such studies are cited in Cialdini’s book - that confirm Alexander's thesis: conscious intention has very little to do with what drives the majority of human behaviour.

So what do you do?

Ask your pupils why they came. Ask other teachers who comes to them and why. Make lists. Segment them into categories. Give them loadings - strong reasons to weak reasons. Just think about it more. BUT…

Listen for the real reason, not the logical one. It’s not, “I saw an article, then a friend told me about you.” But what motivated them to read the article? Why did they choose this time to really listen and follow their friend’s advice? Motivation is feeling based, not logical. Once you listen for it, you will hear it. And THAT is what you are selling into - a solution to that problem, whatever it is.

MacDonald’s knows it: “Happy meals” together with warm, fuzzy family videos. Coke goes so far as to say “No reason.” They are right. There’s a lot to learn from them, sorry to say. However, there’s nothing inherently unethical about this process. The point is this: Coke and MacDonald sell food that shortens life.  You sell food that prolongs it.

The world needs you more.

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