Have you ever come across an ad like this, where all roads lead to one choice? Fake choices

As a consumer I find this annoying. It’s an extreme example of the “Which product is right for you?” trick, where they show you multiple choices but really just want you to buy from them. (p.s. if you like those quizzes, check out the Oatmeal’s brilliant quiz “Which GOT character are you?”)

Sadly, in the past I’ve been guilty of doing this to clients. I thought I was leading them through a decision-making process, but in retrospect I was just trying to nudge them to a conclusion I had already arrived at.

Luckily for me, someone taught me better. This client executive, an experienced vet, humored me for an hour (the length of my presentation) and then gave me this gem:

“When you’ve already made up your mind, and there’s a 99% chance it’s not going to change based on what I say, then don’t lead me through a charade. Just make your recommendation and tell me why you think it’s right.”

This one piece of advice changed the way I do discovery assessments.

First off, it’s not truly a discovery process if you’ve already made up your mind on the answer. A true discovery process would be one where you considered all possible answers - including ones that don’t benefit you. If you sell Coke, are you willing to tell the client that Pepsi is the right product for them? If not, you’re not listening.

Second, if you only have one answer and aren’t going to change it, then don’t go through the fake Socratic process. Just make your pitch already, and back it up with the relevant data.