Bull Rider

This is a blog about the DOING, because the answers you're looking for are in the PROCESS.

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The commitment and consistency concept:

  1. Ask an easy, no-brainer question first that the person knows the answer to without having to think, in order to get them to go on record with their answer.

  2. And then ask progressively more difficult and more difficult questions until you get the ultimate concession you’re seeking.

  3. When people go on record, rarely will they back down. They want to be consistent with each previous answer so they won’t lose face. A small commitment gets them started. Consistency is the motivator that gets them to make larger concessions.

Here’s how commitment and consistency is used in your personal life. Daphne, our oldest daughter, got her driver’s license in high school. She came to me the day she got it and asked, “Dad, can I borrow the car for the game Friday night?”


An easy, no-brainer question. I knew the answer to this one. Plus, I was expecting it.

“Sure, no problem.”


She came to me the next day, rubbing her finger tips together. “Dad, do you have ten bucks I can borrow for gas? I don’t have any money.”


Being a concerned parent, I took out my wallet. Don’t want her to get stranded in the middle of the night somewhere.


Two days later, the day of the game, she came to me again, “Dad, I know my curfew is at 11:30. But you know, this is homecoming. Can I stay out until one?”


What was she doing to me? That’s right. She was setting me up. She was using commitment and consistency. She didn’t know it. I was unaware of it. I fell for it. And I even teach it!


Here’s how you shoot yourself in the foot


You drop the kids off at the grandparents for the night and bribe them with, “If you’re good, we’ll bring you a surprise.” You just started the technique on yourself.


“Really?” the kids ask. They’re forcing you to strengthen your commitment.


“Really,” you promise. You have no clue what you just did.


“Don’t forget. You promised!”

Guess who’s not going to forget their surprise? The kids of course. And…you. Unconsciously you’re a master of commitment and consistency even if it’s self-inflicted. Be careful of the questions you ask or statements you make. Asking or making the wrong ones can sometimes work against you.


One more requirement


Ever ask your teen, “Now you’ll be home by 11. Right?” Be patient. Wait and make her respond. She has to go on record to agree in order to make the technique work.

For the cornerstone blog on the commitment and consistency technique see my blog “You Can Play with Your Roadkill, but Don’t Eat It.”


To see how commitment and consistency is used in business see my blog “You Don’t Clean a Loaded Gun While Looking Down the Barrel.”


To see how to develop questions to qualify/disqualify prospects see my blog “Quit Shooting from the Lip. You’ll Hurt Yourself.”


To see how you use commitment and consistency on yourself (“self-persuasion”) see my blog “Please Stop Me from Twisting My Arm Behind My Back.”




Updated: Jan 30

Here is how to use undetectable persuasion to influence not only individuals, but an entire group of hundreds. The steps for this technique are like all other persuasion techniques:

  1. Identify what you want to achieve. Here, I want to convince people to do what’s in their best interest that will save their jobs and their businesses by doing what every salesperson hates to do to find new business.

  2. Then identify potential problems that will stop or hinder you from achieving your goal.

  3. Find a solution to solving those problems. It can be your own original, creative solution, or a solution based upon other people’s experiences. In this one, I use one of Robert Cialdini’s (Influence: The Power of Persuasion) techniques.

For nearly twenty years I did my national Cold Calling for Cowards® seminars on the most hated subject known to mankind. Every seminar filled up entire hotel ballrooms in every major city in America. Altogether, we estimate we’ve trained over 150,000 businesspeople on the subject. Not only salespeople and their managers but executives, entrepreneurs, business owners, engineers, military personnel (yes, even the U.S. Marines), attorneys, psychologists, and even M.D.’s.


Knowing people would rather have their appendix pulled out through their navel (been there, done that – ouch!) than cold call, knowing people don’t like attending all-day seminars, knowing people don’t like getting advice from “experts”, knowing it’s easier to attack a speaker if you’re part of a mob, I had a problem. Several actually.


I knew that in less than five minutes I had to persuade them, individually and as a group, to go on record to not attack me, to keep an open mind for the material I was going to share, that I had empathy for what they had to go through to find new business, and that it’s okay to have fun learning. Five minutes. Max.


In this case I’m using Robert Cialdini’s commitment and consistency technique. For twenty years and hundreds of seminars, here is the exact opening I used to begin every program and it never failed me.


Me, taking the stage: “Hi, I’m Jerry Hocutt, and this is our Cold Calling for Cowards seminar.” (I’m an introvert. Like the majority of people, I’m uncomfortable with public speaking. To get the butterflies out of my stomach when taking the stage, I start with something I know. By golly, I know my name. Nailed it! Believe it or not, something as simple as this can get the butterflies flying in formation and have a very calming effect.)

Holding up my rubber chicken (which looks like I’m strangling him by his long, skinny, stretched neck) for all at the back of the ballroom to see: “And this is RK, my pet rubber chicken. RK stands for Road Kill and we’ve been partners even before he lost his feathers.” (A few smiles. Some scattered pity laughter like “I feel sorry for this stupid jerk because I don’t see anything funny about a rubber chicken. I’ll never forgive my manager for forcing me to come and learn about something I have no intention of ever doing.” Tough audience. But, like a magician, this is a prop to distract the audience from what is about to happen to them.)


“I want to begin by asking two silly questions, and then one question to test your honesty. Trust me, questions like these are important when you’re cold calling, but I won’t tell you why until later in the program.” (Because I won’t tell them the importance of the questions yet, and don’t tell them the answer won’t come until after the 10 a.m. break, they’ll stay attentive for the next hour-and-a-half, not wanting to miss when the other shoe drops.)


“First silly question: By a show of hands, how many people here like to have fun?” (I do two persuasive techniques here: first, I ask an obvious “yes” question – I never met anyone who didn’t like to have fun. Second, with RK still in my grip, I lead by raising my hand first. Both are subtle persuasion techniques to see if they’ll follow. This is also a significant gauge to determine what this audience is going to be like, and if they’ll be cooperative as the program continues.) Every hand goes up. With hundreds of strangers sitting around them, they’re not about to let others know they’re the only sourpuss in the audience. By raising their hands, I know I have their attention and they’re going on record for everyone to see. These silly, no-brainer questions are critical for the seminar’s success over the next six hours.


“Second silly question: By a show of hands, how many people here are open to new ideas?” (I’m first, again, by raising RK in my hand.) They follow. Every hand goes up. Now they can’t attack me for the information I’m about to share because they said they’re open to new ideas. They’ve become more committed to making this seminar a success and they don’t even know it.


Why these two questions are important: The principle of commitment and consistency states that once someone goes on record (like to have fun, open to new ideas), especially by making their stand public, rarely will they back down from that position and every action they take going forward will be consistent with that response.


“Now the question to test your honesty: Tell me the truth, even if your sales manager is sitting next to you. (Nervous laughter as audience members avoid making eye contact with their sales manager two feet away.) How many people here are like me – if given a choice, you’d really rather not have to cold call to find new customers?” (RK and my hand shoot up into the air.) Ninety percent of the audience’s hands go up. I’ve built empathy. I let them know I hate cold calling as much as they do. And I do. As a group, we are One. We like to have fun, we’re open to new ideas, and we hate cold calling. Who doesn’t?


But, what about the ten percent of those who did not raise their hands on this last question? They want to show how brave they are and they aren’t afraid of cold calling like all the cowards surrounding them. In fact, they’re the ones angry at management for forcing them to attend because they are all so brave. How can I win them over?


“I noticed that some of you kept your hands down. Some of you actually like to cold call. So if you like to cold call, or if you fall in love with cold calling after we finish our program, I have the most important phone number you will ever want. I’d highly recommend you write this number down and give them a call after you leave today.”


Some in the audience prepare to write. I wait until they’re ready.


“Okay, the number is 1-800-854-9211. That’s 1-800-854-9211. (Pause.) But I must warn you. (Longer pause. Look around the room. Something’s coming.) That is the phone number for the Betty Ford Center (laughter) and if you like to cold call you need some serious counseling. But maybe I can help.” (One man on the front row in Chicago actually called the number as I was speaking and laughed and told the audience it was indeed the Betty Ford center. Of course it was. Would I lie? I did my homework.)


There you have it. In less than five minutes they never knew how they were persuaded not to kill me, to keep an open mind for new ideas, and to have fun learning about a subject they hate.

If you’re interested in what the six-hour Cold Calling for Cowards® seminar was about, my book of the same title is that program and is available at Amazon.


To see how commitment and consistency is used in your personal life see my blog “I Know What You’re Doing to Me, So Why Can’t I Stop It?”


To see how commitment and consistency is used in business see my blog “You Don’t Clean a Loaded Gun While Looking Down the Barrel.”


To see how to develop questions to qualify/disqualify prospects see my blog “Quit Shooting from the Lip. You’ll Hurt Yourself.”


To see how you use commitment and consistency on yourself (“self-persuasion”) see my blog “Please Stop Me from Twisting My Arm Behind My Back.”







Updated: Jan 30

The commitment and consistency concept:

  1. Ask an easy, no-brainer question first that the person knows the answer to without having to think, in order to get them to go on record with their answer.

  2. And then ask progressively more difficult and more difficult questions until you get the ultimate concession you’re seeking.

  3. When people go on record, rarely will they back down. They want to be consistent with each previous answer so they won’t lose face. A small commitment gets them started. Consistency is the motivator that gets them to make larger concessions.

Your homework: develop seven qualifying questions you’d like to ask every prospect on the first contact and then number them in sequence, the easiest to the most difficult. The money question will be one of the last questions.


Why seven questions? Based upon research by Bell Laboratories years ago, they found that people can remember, do, and respond to things in a sequence of seven. That’s why they made phone numbers (before area codes) seven digits long.


Here are three examples of bad first questions to ask.


“How about an appointment?” That’s a good question to ask, but not a good first question. People don’t like to be put on the spot that quickly and will become defensive.


“How much money do you want to spend?” Again, a good question, but not a good first question.


“Who’s really the decision-maker in your family?” Wives love that one. Ask that and kiss your commission check bye-bye.



Qualifying questions reveal clues

Here are seven qualifying questions I’d ask if I sold commercial banking services.

  1. “Do you have a commercial account with any other banks?” That’s an easy, no-brainer question. They know the answer. Even you know the answer before you ask it. Every business has a commercial account with someone. But here’s the thing: Even if you know the answer, don’t state it like a fact. Ask it as a question to get them to respond and go on record to start the commitment and consistency technique.

  2. “How long have you been with them?” They’ll have to think on this a little. When you get your answer it’s a good indicator of their loyalty to your competitor. And sometimes they may even make a statement like, “You know, we’ve been thinking of looking around, but we’ve been putting it off.”

  3. “What kinds of accounts do you have: deposit, loans, real estate?” This question gets them to think a little more about their needs. It may reveal that they may have a line of credit with one bank, a real estate loan with another. This also shows they’re willing to do business with multiple banks.

  4. “Do you have any needs for business insurance, 504 loans, or CD’s?” Notice the questions are getting a little more difficult.

  5. “What’s the most important thing you look for from your bank?” If they answer this, it shows an interest in you. Make a note of what they say because this could be the closer down the road.

  6. “Is your company growing to a stage where we could compete for any of your business?” I discovered the word compete is important in banking. A top-level banking executive who attended our seminar in Baltimore told me during the break that his bankers/salespeople get a ton of appointments by using that one word. “Why?” I asked. “Because many people still don’t realize that banks can compete and negotiate with rates. They think rates are inflexible and locked in.”

  7. “If I promised to not take more than 15 minutes of your time, either on the phone or in person, could I make an appointment and ask you a few more questions about your business and goals? I don’t want to do a presentation since we don’t know enough about each other yet.” This question accomplishes two things. First, I let the prospect know that I won’t take more than 15 minutes. We both know that we can qualify or disqualify each other this quickly. Second, I’m not going to do a show-n-tell. I want to learn more about his business and goals so I’ll know if we’re a fit. I may not even want to do business with them even if they want to do business with me. At this point it’s still a two-way street.

I can usually disqualify someone within two or three questions. If you disqualify them, or they disqualify you this quickly, forget the other questions and move on. However, if you make it through all seven qualifying questions, you may have a good suspect; but not a prospect yet. The appointment will determine if they’re a prospect later.

Knowing how to ask the right questions at the right time is one of the most powerful techniques in selling. The better you qualify someone, the more deals you’ll close. Every question must serve one, if not two, purposes. In today’s business world, time is the most precious commodity people can give you. Don’t abuse it. Don’t wing it. This may be your only shot.

For the cornerstone blog on the commitment and consistency technique see my blog “You Can Play with Your Roadkill, but Don’t Eat It.”


To see how commitment and consistency is used in your personal life see my blog “I Know What You’re Doing to Me, So Why Can’t I Stop It?”


To see how commitment and consistency is used in business see my blog “You Don’t Clean a Loaded Gun While Looking Down the Barrel.”


To see how you use commitment and consistency on yourself (“self-persuasion”) see my blog “Please Stop Me from Twisting My Arm Behind My Back.”