On my blog my aim is to constantly bring value to Network Marketers and Entrepreneurs looking to build their business faster using the Internet. I have a policy of publishing articles from authors I value and respect. Today’s guest blog post is from my good friend Andrew Draughon

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were out camping.

They pitched their tent under the stars and fell asleep.

In the middle of the night, Holmes shook Watson awake and said, “Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”

Watson replied, “I see millions and millions of stars.”

Holmes asked, “And what can you deduce from that?”

Watson paused, and then responded thoughtfully, “Well, if there are millions of stars and even a few of them have planets, it’s quite likely there are planets like Earth out there. And if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life.”

And Holmes said, “Watson, you fool, it means that somebody stole our tent!”   **

I know…corny joke, right?

But there’s a point…

Watson did not see what was staring him directly in the face.

And, all too often, neither do we.

Case in point: many times when we engage a prospecting conversation, we tend to over-complicate our thinking and overlook who’s staring us right in the face.

In other words, we often engage our prospects from our perspective, not from theirs, as we try to persuade them to see our point of view (and sell them what we have to offer).

And as you might have deduced, this is the WRONG approach.

Because until you’ve asked a few detective-like questions, you’re in NO position to effectively sell your prospect anything.

After all, until you know your prospect’s specific problem(s), how can you possibly offer a solution?

You can’t, right?

So the question remains…

What sorts of questions do you ask to get your prospects to open up, honestly reveal their pains and frustrations, and—if you’re asking the right questions—even begin to start selling themselves on what you have to offer?

Well, we might take a lesson (or five) from Sherlock Holmes.

First, though, let’s answer the question…

Who, exactly, is Sherlock Holmes?

foolproof ways to prospect

Holmes, as you might know, is the iconic detective created in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Played by over 200 actors in radio, theater, TV, and movies since his “birth,” he holds the Guinness World Record as the most portrayed literary character in history.

Not bad, right?

You might say Sherlock Holmes went “viral” before it was cool.

And why might that be?

Well, I think it’s because we’re fascinated by his mind

We’re amazed at his mental prowess. His powers of observation. His ability to focus. His grasp of detail that other people entirely miss.

And his eccentricity too.

All that, and we love a good mystery, of course.

Importantly, he’s become the go-to exemplar of clear thinking and deductive reasoning.

And deductive reasoning, my dear Watson, is precisely the process YOU need to engage in when interacting with your prospects—if, that is, you want them to open up about their problems and begin selling themselves on your solution.

Okay, so let’s talk logic for a moment…

Why inductive reasoning is the wrong approach

foolproof ways to prospect

In learning how to communicate effectively with our prospects, we often fall into the trap of presenting our solution before we even know what their problem is.

Face it; we get caught up trying to sell them.

We get focused on the end result (instead of helping them achieve their goals).

Quite simply…

We approach prospects from where WE are, not from where THEY are.

We WANT something from them.

And thus, we start from a conclusion, and often distort reality to fit our assumptions.

You can probably relate, right?

This is the faulty thinking of most EVERYONE when they first get started (myself included).

And it’s the exact opposite of Sherlock’s prized deductive reasoning: this is inductivereasoning.

Inductive reasoning starts with a conclusion.

Which, once you’ve committed to it, you start looking for evidence to prove you’re right.

The Scientific Method (as a familiar example) follows this inductive model:


It’s a linear process, where you start at the end and work backwards, looking for evidence that supports the hypothesis.

And if the evidence doesn’t support your hypothesis, you’ll have to start all over again with a different conclusion.

Now, this process works for scientific experiments—no ifs, ands, or buts there.

But when it comes to prospecting, it’s a trainwreck!


Here’s how inductive reasoning—staring with a conclusion—derails you…

“You sell a business opportunity. Your prospect’s life isn’t working the way they want it to. Therefore, they NEED your business opportunity.”

If you make this logical mistake, it becomes difficult to see the true reality of your prospect’s problems, pains, and frustrations.

Not to mention that your prospects will FEEL your agenda.

And inevitably, your attempts to be persuasive will end in disappointment.

Because you’re PUSHING, rather than PULLING.

(What happens when you push someone? They lean into it, pushing back, right?)

This doesn’t work.

So when results fail to materialize, you’ll have to come up with a different conclusion.

Perhaps the company, the plan, the product is what’s wrong?

After all, it can’t be the fault of your hypothesis!

See how that works?

Even though it’s logical, it’s a recipe for failure.

This is why so many once-excited distributors wind up frustrated and quit.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Don’t neglect to notice your tent is missing, because you’re so focused on the stars.

Instead, let’s look at prospecting from Sherlock Holmes’ deductive perspective, starting with a quote from A Study in Scarlett:

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgement.”

5 Ways to Prospect Like Sherlock Holmes

foolproof ways to prospect

Sherlock Holmes sees things that most people overlook.

Even though people think of him as the very picture of rigid logic, his approach is much more imaginative, much less linear, and requires all of his senses and powers of observation and analysis.

His deductive method works like this:


In other words, Sherlock starts by observing objective reality, looking at cold, hard facts.

Then he analyzes the objective facts and arrives at conclusions using all of his senses – including critical thinking.

You CAN teach yourself to think like Sherlock Holmes (which we’ll get to in just a moment), and when you do, instead of pushing prospects away, you’ll start pulling them in like crazy.

After all, isn’t that what “attraction marketing” is all about?

BTW, to use this knowledge to build an automated selling and prospecting system to attract your own highly-interested prospects to your product or opportunity online, click here to gain access to a FREE 10-Day Online Recruiting Bootcamp!

And as you get better at this approach, you’ll find your prospecting conversations to be richer – more personally fulfilling, more financially rewarding, and maybe even a lot more fun.

Ready to get started?

Then practice these steps:

foolproof ways to prospect

My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.”

– The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

When Sherlock says something is “elementary,” he’s NOT saying it’s simple or easy.

He means it’s basic (like the elements).

In his own words…

As a physicist begins with the laws relevant to a problem, a detective begins with the facts of a case before adding in interpretation.”

As a marketer, you have a certain baseline of knowledge and experience – “laws relevant to a problem” in Sherlock’s words.

You’ll want to use that knowledge and experience, combined with your present observations, to help you define and deal with the specific issues your prospect is facing.

After all, “There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before,” Holmes points out when Lestrade overlooks the similarities between a current investigation and earlier cases.

Every marketer already knows some basics about their prospects and what might keep them from making a decision or taking action.

Here are a few universal “elementary” concerns:

  • Lack of information (or resourcefulness)
  • Lack of money
  • Lack of leads
  • Fear of failure
  • Feelings of overwhelm
  • Failure to take action (they’re stuck)

Armed with that basic knowledge, your job as a prospecting “detective” is to drill down and get specific data (clues) from your prospect before you try to solve their problem.

You have to identify what their particular problem IS first (or, at least, how they perceive their problem and what words they use to describe it.)

foolproof ways to prospect

In Season 1, Episode 1 of the 2010 BBC television series Sherlock, Dr. John Watson appears for the first time.

The minute they meet, we see Sherlock’s mastery of observation at work:

Sherlock: You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.”

Watson: “How on Earth did you know that?”

Sherlock: “I knew you came from Afghanistan… Here is a gentleman of a medical type, but with the air of a military man. Clearly an army doctor, then. He has just come from the tropics, for his face is dark, and this is not the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are fair. He has undergone hardship and sickness, as his haggard face says clearly. His left arm has been injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural manner. Where in the tropics could an English army doctor have seen much hardship and got his arm wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan.” 

Sherlock is observing what’s right in front of his face to draw conclusions about who the man is.

It looks like magic or mind reading, but it’s actually just deep observation.

He’s looking at how all of Watson’s physicality communicates sickness, injury, and the tropics, and he deduces Watson’s personal history from how it all fits together.

Moving from the literary to the real world, here’s an example you might like, using the powers of understanding the basics and objective observation.

I often get spam messages on LinkedIn…

Offering me all kinds of products and opportunities.

I’m sure you do, too.

Now I could just delete those messages, grumble, and move on, but here’s what I deduce from my basic understanding and by observing the spammers’ behavior:

  • They’re spamming because they’re desperate to generate leads, maybe frustrated, and probably new—they don’t know any better.

So, based on my observation, analysis, and conclusion, I’ve changed my approach.

Now I’ll often shoot them a message right back:

“Hey, if sending out messages like this isn’t working for you, let me invite you to check out this free boot camp {link}, no strings attached.”

I direct them right to Ferny’s 10-Day Online Recruiting Bootcamp.

And “oddly” enough, many of them click through and end up buying.

In literally two minutes of observation and critical thinking, I solved a problem and I got a sale, by looking at all the pieces, observing how they fit together, and deducing the spammer’s issue.

Imagine that.

foolproof ways to prospect

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”

– A Case of Identity

Sherlock Holmes listens intently, often with his eyes closed and his fingertips pressed together, taking everything in, observing deeply with all of his senses.

Listening is the greatest gift you can give someone, as you give them your undivided attention and take the whole of the person in – what they are saying with words as well as what’s being communicated non-verbally.

So when you’re talking to your prospects, you probably shouldn’t be fiddling with your phone, checking your messages, or worrying about your next appointment.

Focus on the person, not yourself.

Ask questions.

Be a detective.

Don’t offer solutions until the right solution become obvious based on your observations.

Let’s say a prospect says they are stuck.

Part of being “actively passive” is to refrain from jumping right in with a pitch, and instead start asking questions.

  • Where are you stuck?
  • What have you already tried?
  • Did it work?
  • Specifically what results did you get?
  • What could you have done differently?
  • Have you tried that?
  • What are you not doing that you KNOW you should be doing?
  • Okay, so what’s holding you back?

The point is to dig deep, let each answer lead you to the next question.

Listen intently.

You’ll know when you find the the REAL “killer,” as you’ll hear it loud and clear in their confession.

And when the time is right, the conclusion will become obvious.

Then you can help your prospect make the decision that’s right for them.

In Sherlock’s words from The Red Circle

Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for last.”

foolproof ways to prospect

One of Sherlock’s most endearing (or annoying, depending on your point of view) habits is that he talks to Watson about absolutely everything.

He says, “Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person.”

When you state something out loud, it forces you and your listener to pause and reflect.

It allows you to slow down your thinking and consider each conclusion logically.

It aids critical thinking.

And it helps you stay present…in this moment…with this person.

That’s huge.

If you’ve been mindful about asking your prospect questions and listened carefully to each answer, the best way to cement your connection with that person is to restate what you’ve heard.

“So you’ve tried x, y, and z with limited results, right? And you feel frustrated with the lack of support you’re getting from your upline, yes?”


“Based on what you’re telling me, it seems you’ve been stuck for a few months with this, right? And it seems like it’s not okay with you to be stuck. So tell me, would it be okay with you a YEAR from now to still be stuck like this?”

When you can summarize out loud with the person exactly what you’ve heard (or observed), you’re well on your way to developing a relationship of trust.

And from that relationship, your prospect will be more open to your solution.

foolproof ways to prospect

One thing is certain about Sherlock Holmes: he never approaches a case the same way twice.

He tailors his approach, depending on the circumstances of the case in front of him.

He greets every new contact in a case as an individual.

He profiles them by observing and analyzing their appearance and behavior, looking for ways to take advantage of what he deduces to solve his case.

When you adapt your approach to the person right in front of you, and commit yourself to helping that person create a breakthrough, your work becomes more meaningful and fulfilling.

You forge a relationship based on trust.

Online, that’s no small thing.

Especially in our age of skepticism.

The Game is Afoot

foolproof ways to prospect

“’Come, Watson, come!’ he cried. ‘The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!’ Ten minutes later we were both in a cab and rattling through the silent streets on our way to Charing Cross Station.”– The Return of Sherlock Holmes

Think about this for a minute…

Sherlock was operating in another century, with entirely more archaic technology.

He literally had to interview his suspects one-at-a-time, face-to-face, while traveling all over England to gather the clues needed to solve his cases.

Which sounds kind of like “old school” prospecting and recruiting, doesn’t it?

Where you hop in your car and “rattle through the streets,” meeting your prospects one-at-a-time in the hopes of bringing much-needed justice to their hopes, wants, and dreams?

Well, here’s the score…

As a business owner, the case you’re always trying to solve is how to grow your organization quickly by prospecting and recruiting the right people in the most efficient way possible.

Luckily you’ve got access to the most powerful tool a detective could ask for at your fingertips.

Literally—you’re staring at it right now!

foolproof ways to prospect

So whether you’re on your phone or computer, just imagine how insanely efficient Sherlock Holmes could be if he was able to leverage the power of the Internet to solve his cases?

After all, today’s police regularly monitor social media channels (because criminals find it challenging not to flagrantly flout their activities online these days).

And that’s the game we have afoot today…

Instant access to over a billion people on Facebook—who will quite willingly reveal to you exactly what problems they need to solve…

…if you’re willing to put on your detective hat, observe, ask the right questions, and actually listen!

The best part is you don’t even have to talk to anyone face-to-face, ever (unless, of course, you want to).

So, ready to step up your Facebook game?

Download this free guide right now to learn how to take your prospecting to the next level.

It was created by my friend Julie Burke, a multiple six-figure earner in network marketing, who personally sponsored over 270 reps and grew a team of 8,300 distributors, all from the comfort of her home, in just 3 years.

Julie built 80% of her organization using social media, and 80% of her team uses social media to recruit online as well.

In fact…

She might just be the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ of social media marketing.

A master recruiter, Julie has tested different posts over the past four years and has “dialed in” on what works and doesn’t work on Facebook.

So if you want to be instantly more effective at recruiting and sponsoring online, click the link below to get immediate access to exact scripts, example posts, and critical dos and don’ts on Facebook that will help YOU prospect like Sherlock Holmes…automatically!

DOWNLOAD Julie’s “Social Media Recruiting Frenzy” Guide absolutely FREE!

If you found this content helpful, I would love to read your comments below!

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