When I want to persuade a judge or jury to find in favor of my client on a particular point or issue, I use this formula. I don’t see any reason you can’t use this same formula to make a point, win an argument or close business deals.
1. The first thing I do is state the CORRECT problem or legal “challenge”. Be very clear and put it right out there to help frame the conversation
In Court: this might be whether or not my client should be allowed to seek money damages in a wrongful death case against a corporate defendant accused of manufacturing and selling an unsafe product that resulted in the death of a family member.
In Business: Your client may be experiencing low sales and not enough customers. For example, you may be sitting across from John (your client) at Starbucks. State the problem to him like this, “John, we’re here today because you just don’t have enough customers and sales are down. This problem could put you out of business.”
2. After you’ve clearly framed the problem, emphasize or agitate the problem
In Court: During trial, I argue that if my jury does not find the corporate defendant responsible for harming my client’s family, the company will simply go out and sell another unsafe product to another family thus continuing the cycle of harm and grief. If the jury doesn’t follow the law and do the right thing, the number of annual deaths from this unsafe product may very well climb from the low hundreds to the high tens of thousands and that’s just not OK.
In Business: You may want to use short stories (remember, facts tell, but stories sell) showing that the problem you highlighted in the first step is serious. If it’s not properly addressed in a timely fashion, bad things can happen—John just might go out of business. The landlord will take back the office space, and your employees will need to be terminated. If things get any worse, John may have to shut his doors and start applying for work at his competitor.
3. Next, offer a clear and concise solution
In Court: In front of a jury I am very clear about the fact that they have the power to fix the problem. They have the power to send a message out to the community that putting unsafe products into the market place will not be condoned. If they step up, do the right thing, and render the right verdict, they will hold this defendant accountable for its wrongful self-centered profit-driven conduct while, at the same time, deter other manufactures from also putting profits over people.
In Business: You may offer John a new cloud software solution that will enable him to use social media to build new relationships and bring in new customers. Once John formally retains your service, you’ll be able to direct a minimum of 3,000 new potential customers his way each and every month. It will take his office manager on 30 minutes a week to participate in this new marketing model.
Because John offers a great product, new customers will increase purchases and end of year revenues. John will not only be able to stay in business, but he’ll be able to expand and prosper.
4. At this point, you now need to state the benefits for the customer
In Court- I tell my jury that using their power and rendering a substantial verdict supported by the evidence, they will be able to tell their family, friends and neighbors that they were able to make a difference and protect our community. They’ll be able to tell big corporations and this particular manufacture that it’s not OK to produce and sell dangerous products to the public. By the sizable verdict they render, they will be speaking for all Americans and sending a message to the local and national community that something bad happened to an innocent victim and that kind of misconduct will not be tolerated any further. Empowering others to take action can be a powerful tool.
In Business- If you’ve done the above correctly, remind John how additional customers and revenue will allow him to build his company again and make things much more enjoyable. It will allow him to add new product lines to his company that compliment his services. Because you have developed rapport with John and know he’s been worried about the expense of putting his three kids through college, ask him how good it will feel knowing the issue of being able to afford to pay for his children’s college education will never again keep him laying awake at night.
5. Only after you’ve done ALL of the above, make sure not to miss the last and most important step. I’m talking about the close. Make sure to tell your audience what needs to happen next
In Court- During my closing argument at the end of a long trial, I pull out a large blow up of the verdict form and literally walk my jury through each line and check each box I want them to select. If the harm to my client warrants $2.5M in damages, on the bottom line of the form I write down the number while explaining why this number is reasonable, supported by the evidence and in fact even required under the law. I discuss why and how this number will help fix the harm caused by the defendant corporation to my clients.
In Business- While wrapping up the last step, you’ll next simply ask for the sale. While reaching down and pulling out a professional looking contract or purchase order, you’ll say, “let’s get started” and gently slide it across to John. You may even move your chair around the desk so that you are sitting beside him. You’ll start working your way down the page as though it’s already a done deal. You confidentially act as though this is a done deal. There are no other alternatives.
If you’ve covered steps 1-5 correctly, John will appreciate you taking the time to go over the fine print and your desire to immediately get started. He’ll understand that to solve all his problems (to get more clients and increase profits), he’ll need to sign the contract to get started.
That’s it. You can make this as simple or as hard as you like. You can use this approach to close a business deal or to explain to your teenage son why it’s important to get the term paper written ahead of time instead of waiting until the last minute.
I always enjoy your feedback, so please email or tweet me with your comments or questions. If you really found value in this email, please share it with your family and friends. After all, the most effective communicators in the world, the better!
Until next week, I sincerely hope you’ll use this tip to make your point, fascinate others, and close deals just like the best trial lawyers in the world!
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