You’re on the phone with a client, prospect or colleague, trying to convince them. They want what you have to offer, but are hesitating. Yes or no? Should they take you up on your offer or not?
Some people have a natural knack for convincing others. Some have to work on it. In both cases, learning some powerful persuasion techniques can improve your success rate and open doors for you.
The study of persuasion is an enormous field; there have been hundreds of studies and years of research done to see how we can persuade others better. Here are some of the best tips researchers have found.
The Yes Cycle
We humans like being consistent. This is entrenched in our interaction patterns as well. So, if you ask a few questions before asking the person about your offer, questions where you know the answer will certainly be yes - there is a much bigger chance they will say yes to whatever it is that you are proposing.
For example, John remembered hearing from his colleague that the executive manager of the company he is offering a proposal to went to Holland on holiday with her fiance. Here’s how he can use it to his advantage:
“So, Katie, how is your summer coming along? Did you end up going to Holland on vacation?”
“Yes, I did, it was great! Thanks for asking.”
“I’m so glad to hear that. And did Tim come along?”
“Yes, we had a fabulous time. Holland is a beautiful place to visit.”
“I agree. Now, tell me, do you think the proposal I suggested would be of benefit to your company?”
Now that Kate is already involved in the Yes Cycle, her answer will most likely be, “Yes.”
Borrow Experts’ Authority
If you are a prominent leader in your field, your caller may trust you just based on your reputation and authority. But if you aren’t known as an expert yet in your field, you can still use authority to persuade the other party - namely, the authority of others.
You can borrow experts’ authority by quoting them or mentioning things they have said, and using their name. Trust by association is a very powerful persuasion tool.
Concrete Facts Concretize Your Point
Most people make their decisions based on emotion. Yet immediately after they make their decision, they are anxious to prove to themselves and others that they made the right logical choice.
You can use this in your favor to make your argument more persuasive. As you talk, google relevant numbers, figures and facts to back up your points. These facts are things your clients will be repeating to themselves as they make their decision, and will repeat to others when they want to make sure they’re making the right choice. As a bonus, you will sound extremely knowledgeable, which will raise people’s trust in you.
The Power of Questions
Ask questions. Questions build a rapport and a flow between you and your client. People will feel like you are interested in what you have to say and will be more amenable to what you suggest later on. Take mental or physical notes as they answer; using personal details later on when making your point to persuade them will win you lots of persuasion points.
Use Words that Work
Use connectors like because, that is why and therefore. Studies show that our brains are trained to accept the statement that comes after these connector words as fact, even when that is not the case. For example, in one famous study, an experimenter stood in line to make copies and asked everyone on the line, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” 94% of the people agreed.
In the next line, he asked the people waiting there, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” – 60% of the people agreed.
You probably think the difference was because of the reason she gave. But the next experiment proved otherwise…
“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”
93% of the people waiting on line agreed, despite the fact that the reason given made no sense; everyone there was waiting to use the copy machine because they had to make copies! Yet only 1% less people agreed when as when a real reason was given - because he used the word because.
Cialdini’s Rule of Reciprocity
Robert Cialdini was a master of persuasion. He wrote an entire book called “Influence: The Power of Persuasion.” One of his best techniques was reciprocity.
Simply put, we humans don’t like being in someone else’s favor and not returning the gesture. If you hold the door open for me, I will feel obliged to pick up your pen when it drops to the floor.
Doing your caller a favor - even a small one, like giving them some helpful advice or telling them you will check up the status of their account just for them, will make the other party eager to reciprocate the favor. When you ask them if they would like to buy a plan, upsell, or partner with you on a venture - they will now be much more inclined to say yes.
Your clients are always looking to see what others in the industry are up to. We all have fears of making the wrong decision, and knowing that others who are like us are making the same choices is a great cure for indecision and fear.
How can you use this to your advantage? If their competitors are doing whatever it is that you are offering them - mention that. If leading corporations in their industries are utilizing this solution - let them know.
Once they know that others like them have made the same choice, it will be much easier for them to join the bandwagon.
Persuasion is a powerful tool for you to use to help your business grow . Practice using these persuasion techniques, and monitor the results - it is incredible to see how subtle changes to your conversation can lead to positive results.