The Importance of Enrollment

Many think that recruiting people to a vision or cause is a sales process. It isn’t. In this blog, I’ll distinguish sales from something that looks similar but yields different results. That something is enrollment.

At least two organizations I am familiar with have used enrollment to attract over ½ million people to their programs. Those organizations are Landmark Education and PSI Seminars. In both cases, there is no advertising. Instead, people are approached by friends and colleagues who sincerely believe that the programs will benefit participants. This is a 100% volunteer effort, with structured support to assure that people are skilled at it. The same is generally true of religions, when they aren’t coercing people to join.

Every time you participate in an internet meme, you’re in an enrollment conversation – first being enrolled by a friend, then enrolling your friends. Memes (infectious ideas) spread virally over the internet. Research shows that such ideas are most likely to spread if:

• There is a benefit to the person who is spreading the meme
• The message includes not only benefits but also a minor negative (this adds credibility)
• The message is easy to understand
• The message is new
• There is a clear enrollment action.

E-mail stands as an outstanding example of enrollment which has now saturated the planet; largely from viral sharing. People enrolled those they already had relationships with because they perceived that it would benefit both of them.

We need to enroll people and ideally go viral if Celebrationism is to become more than an interesting idea. I have a few ideas in this regard that we can explore together, and welcome yours as well.

One that I’ve already started: people who don’t have money to buy the book can join the Society (it’s free), write me and I’ll send them a free PDF copy. In return, they promise to read the book and, if they agree with the message, to enroll two other people into joining the Society. That’s a no-lose proposition that makes it easy for them to say yes. When they say yes, they’ve been enrolled into reading the book.

To better understand enrollment, first consider sales/recruitment. In sales, the seller has something that they want the buyer to acquire. The seller expects to personally benefit from the transaction. At its highest, the seller sincerely believes that the transaction will benefit the buyer. However, in other cases the seller manipulates the buyer, heedless of whether she or he will benefit.

Sales is, ultimately, a transaction. While many companies now spout the mantra “customers for life”, in reality the more expensive the item is, the more incentive the seller has to view the transaction as a short-term affair.

Enrollment is not a transaction. It is a process of sharing something that the enroller believes can benefit the enrollee, period. No immediate personal gain is expected from enrollment—though a larger, dearly held vision or purpose may be served. At its most powerful, enrollment is a life-changing conversation that wins allies for change.

Enrollment starts with the clear understanding that you have some activity, purchase, or vision that you wish to share with a particular person or persons. It then consists of an authentic inquiry into two questions:

1. What does this person(s) deeply want?
2. If this person(s) were to become enrolled, would that help them to realize what they deeply want?

In the enrollment conversation, you are sharing yourself, but selectively. Only offer information about yourself when it creates empathy with the other person. (Good sales people also do this. They say, “My daughter is also in college.” They don’t say, “I think that [hobby of yours] is stupid.”) Ideally, you are vulnerable, willing to be wrong, and willing to admit what you don’t know.

A friend of mine once said: people buy what they want and need from those whom they like and trust. Since we’re basically social creatures, we want connection. Like and trust come to those who keep their word, who take a sincere interest in the other person’s concerns, and who listen closely.

As an enroller for a Celebration Society, I encourage you to stay focused on the question: can my vision of what I want to see happen in the world be aligned with the deep wants of the person I’m talking with, so each supports the other?

There is nothing selfish on your side in the enrollment conversation. There is no hidden agenda; when the person asks questions you either answer forthrightly or tell them that you can’t or don’t feel comfortable answering. (For example, when people ask me about matters of religion, I respond that I don’t care what religion a person professes, nor do I much care what other words they say about their values. I care very much about their actions, because that’s where the truth shows up. I don’t get into my particular beliefs, because that’s unlikely to draw us closer and may needlessly drive us apart.)

A conversation is an agreement; it is never harassment. Never push a point of view nor allow yourself to be harassed. Even if you believe that a Celebration Society could offer this person their dearest desires, they may not see it that way. Respect that. (A person who feels respected is more likely to respect you and your beliefs.)

Another saying is, a person persuaded against their will is of the same opinion still. (Or: we decide based on emotion and justify our decisions with logic.) Research is finding that people ignore logic and facts contrary to what they want to be true. So, the only way to persuade a person and have it endure is to show them how the change you are proposing gives them what they WANT more than does the status quo.

While a Celebration Society offers far more to humanity than a solution to technological unemployment, I have framed it that way because this is an issue of concern to most people. They WANT assurance that they will have an adequate income to meet their needs.

It doesn’t matter why a person becomes a Celebrationist; only that they do so for reasons that matter deeply to them. Technological unemployment is a hook. While it’s a real and pressing problem, I’ll gladly discuss something else if that matters more to the person I’m enrolling. I’m always looking to see how a Celebration Society can serve them.

An enrollment conversation concludes with one of the following results:

(1) You perceive no likelihood that there will be a meeting of wants or visions, and you politely end the conversation or change the subject, or

(2) You perceive a match, and share with them why you perceive this. You invite their response and, if you are correct, suggest a course of action they can take or you can take together. (Note: In all cases an enrollment conversation should end pleasantly. If not, you have shifted into a different kind of conversation.)

I have enrolled people into all sorts of things. Probably, so have you. There’s nothing I can imagine that’s more exciting or important than enrolling people into this vision! I hope you feel the same way.

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