Last week in my blog I wrote about something that’s literally the core of all success, the mindset. I wrote about the 6 attributes that separates mediocre entrepreneurs from extremely successful ones. This week we’ll stay within that topic but talk about a different angle, the art of persuasion.
Being able to persuade others is critical to an entrepreneur’s success. I was talking with one of my friends about this and the funny thing was when I mentioned having a talent to easily persuade others, she took that as a negative thing. I found it interesting how she related persuading others as deceptive which is completely false.
Sure, there are slimy people out there that are trying to make a buck off people dishonestly, there’s no doubt about that. But if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re going to have to sell your product. If you’re going to sell your product, you’ll need to talk people into it.
As an Entrepreneur Owner You’ll Need to Understand the Art of Persuasion
I decided to talk about this topic when I watched a television program a few days ago on the National Geographic Channel called How Can You Get What You Want a segment from the series The Numbers Game. I was fascinated by the program which stated the entire world was built on persuasion. Doctors persuade patients to take medicine, teachers persuade students to learn, TV persuades us to do just about everything, and as a business owner you must persuade someone to buy something.
Here are some examples of persuasion used on the show: (Content credit to the National Geographic Channel.)
- Give a reason – If you’re standing in line and want move ahead of the person in front of you the study showed that 94% of the time when someone gave a reason versus just saying the word please they actually would allow you to jump ahead of them.
- Dress the part – A recent study found that people were 3.5 times more likely to follow a man wearing a business suit across a busy intersection than the same man in casual attire. Dressing professionally makes people think you’re more credible than if you are dressed normally, and so they are more likely to believe you and trust you as an authority figure.
- Present a visual – Get those PowerPoints ready! Presentations that use visual support are 43% more persuasive than those that don’t because visual aids help people remember and understand things better, which improves their chances of acting in a certain way.
- Grow a beard – A recent study in the Journal of Marketing Communications found that men with beards were deemed more credible than those who were clean shaven.
- Speak fast – Studies have found that speaking quickly, like at around 200 words per minute, is more effective in short-term persuasion. Fast talkers give listeners less time to come up with their own arguments, and so the listeners are more likely to just agree rather than embarrass themselves by stumbling over their words. So I guess this is why auctioneers talk so fast?
- Body language is powerful – One study found that you can convey 80% of a word’s meaning using nonverbal cues such as posture, facial expressions, and hand movements.
Is Persuasion Manipulation?
I think that many people feel that persuasion is a form of manipulation which is why there was a negative implication when I discussed it with my friend. According to an article written for Forbes, called The 21 Principles of Persuasion written by Jason Nazar, persuasion is not manipulation – manipulation is coercion through force to get someone to do something that is not in their own interest. Persuasion is the art of getting people to do things that are in their own best interest that also benefit you.
So stop thinking about those slimy snake oil salesmen when you think of being persuaded, it’s actually a mutual process. Let’s face it, everyone is selling something!
This topic really hit home with Rachel Bailey of Parenting by Heart, “I’m a home-based business entrepreneur who has a TOUGH time trying to “persuade” my ideal clients to buy my services and products. Even though I’m pretty confident that my services really do solve a problem, I hate the idea that I’m being too pushy or salesy so I don’t make the money that I could be making. I’d love to find out exactly what makes people feel like I’m helping, not selling.”
I’ve filled an entire practice by doing one thing really really well. I KNOW my ideal client. I know them intimately. Everything I do in my business down to the website that I designed was from their point of view, based on what I knew they needed. I constantly say out loud, “this isn’t about me” just to remind myself.
That being said, I want to ask Rachel to change her mindset. I want her to consider that what she has to offer to her ideal client isn’t just a service, but a gift. If you really believe that, then what you sell doesn’t really need to be sold but instead just needs to be explained so that your client clearly understands the value.
Now, as long as you’re confident that you’ve created a product that aligns with your passion and is of great value to your ideal client you should make a conscious decision to release yourself from any concern of over-selling. The confidence you have in your product and your process will shine through, thus attracting your client.
Persuasion Isn’t Manipulation – It’s Science
When conducting research on this topic I came across a great video on YouTube called Science of Persuasion by Influence at Work. Wow, this video gave an excellent perspective and I recommend that you click the link and watch it because I couldn’t possibly include all the great points it made.
(Photo credit to Influence at Work)
The video explains that researchers have studied what influences us to say yes at the request of others for over 60 years. They mention that it would be nice to consider that we make an educated decision based on all the available information. But the thing is, that isn’t the reality. They reference to the increasing information over-loading lives that we now live and as a result we create short-cuts to make our decisions.
I thought it would be fun to identify these 6 short-cuts which they refer to as the Universal Principals of Persuasion and then I will elaborate on them from a home-based business owner perspective. Understanding these short cuts and using them in an ethical manner, as they explain, can significantly increase the likelihood that someone will be persuaded by your request and say yes.
1. Reciprocity – Simply put, people feel obligated to give back what they receive. If you do someone a favor for example, they feel obligated to do a favor for you. People are more likely to say yes to those that they owe. So from a business perspective if you provide your audience with great information that’s valuable and helps them in some way, they feel obligated. As a result, they’re more likely to buy from you in the future.
2. Scarcity – It’s a known fact that people tend to want more of the things they can have less of. This is why so many businesses make a big deal out of going out of business sales. I have a furniture store down the street from me that I know has went out of business at least 5 times in a few years. This can also explain why we tend to buy things at the last minute – the threat of losing an opportunity thats valuable actually encourages us to buy. The video explains that it’s not enough to tell people about the benefits they’ll gain for purchasing your product. You’ll also need to point out what is unique about what you sell and what the potential customer stands to lose if they don’t buy.
3. Authority – This is the theory that people will follow the lead of credible knowledge experts. People are more likely to trust a doctor that has diplomas on the wall for example, or a fitness instructor that is very buff and healthy looking in appearance. The science of authority is, it’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible and knowledgable authority before you make your persuasion attempt. This theory is why testimonial marketing is so powerful. It would be a bit boastful to go around telling others how great you are. But what if someone does it for you?
4. Consistency – You should always be consistent with things you’ve said and done in your business. So in essence when seeking to persuade someone using the consistency principle, people will look for active commitments preferable in writing. For example one recent study showed that a health center reduced missed appointments by 18% simply by asking the patients to fill out the future appointment card themselves instead of the staff writing it for them.
5. Liking – People prefer to say yes to those that they like. But what causes someone to like you? Research tells us there are 3 very important factors. First of all we like people who are similar to ourselves. Secondly, we like people who pay us compliments. Finally, we like those who cooperate with us toward mutual goals. This principal is why it’s crucial to choose an ideal client target instead of selling to everyone. It’s so much easier to create this bond first with potential customers that we really understand and secondly that we share common ground with.
6. Consensus – When people are uncertain about something they will look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their own. As an experiment and in an effort to cut down on towel usage a hotel put up a sign in their bathrooms that simply stated, “75% of our guests reuse their towels during their stay, so please feel free to do so as well.” The towel reuse rate rose 26%. This is ANOTHER reason why testimonial marketing is powerful and crucial. Instead of relying on our own ability to persuade potential clients, we can let others do it for us.
How good at you at influencing others to buy? Will this information help you to do better? If so please leave a comment! I would love to hear your thoughts on this article.