The Art of Persuasion

Persuasion works best when you help others convince themselves.

Really good salespeople know how to persuade their prospects. But they don’t do it by pushing them harder. Instead, they push away the hard issues — the barriers that keep others from taking action. You don’t need to be manipulative to win people over. All it takes is a better understanding of how people make decisions.

Persuasion is part art, part smarts. Stick with these principles of persuasion, and you’ll end up getting more of what you want by giving others more of what they need.

Highlight the gap.

When people are pushed, they tend to push back. It’s called reactance, and it’s a hardwired human trait. The best way to convince others is to help them convince themselves. Start by highlighting the gap between the present and future — what is and what could be. Describe the benefits of your product or service — not just the features — and guide others to imagine future possibilities that can come from closing that gap.

Surface the costs.

People resist change because they place more value on what they already have, something known as endowment. In reality, the cost of not taking action — in terms of money, time and opportunity — can be much higher. To be more persuasive, you should surface the costs of sticking with the status quo. Help others recognize that they stand to gain much more by acting than not.

Make numbers sound human.

Some people need data to guide their decisions. Data is good, but data stories are even better. Use math to deliver a message. Instead of saying that your product decreases costs by 30%, put the savings in human terms: “Our customers are happier as a result of the savings we deliver.” Numbers count more when they tell a story.

Shorten the distance.

People have a hard time accepting ideas that exist in a faraway future. To be more persuasive, shorten the distance from concept to reality by asking for smaller commitments and creating easier points of entry. These shrinking strategies let others see progress unfold over shorter intervals, boosting their confidence in you and their willingness to stay the course.

The best way to change people’s minds is to open their minds. Highlight the gaps, surface the costs, make your numbers human and shorten the distance to action, and you’ll find that prospects are ready — and willing — to hear what you have to say.

Leave a Reply