Sales Skills

Persuasive Skills and How They Can be Strengthened

Persuasive skills are the skills that enable you to present your case or ideas to others in a way that convinces them that your ideas have merit.  Being persuasive consists of the following characteristics:

  • You are able to analyze your audience and present your case in such a way that shows how your position is the right one.
  • You are able and willing to listen to your audience and respond appropriately with responses regarding how your ideas help satisfy their needs or concerns.
  • You can make a logical, well-researched argument that uses facts and data to back up your ideas or position.
  • You can keep your cool and enter into an exchange of ideas without feeling compelled to argue in a negative manner or resort to personal attacks.
  • You are able to articulate your case or idea clearly in speech and/or writing.

Persuasion skills are on display during events like presidential debates and campaign speeches.  However, good persuasive skills are an essential part of everyday life as people in leadership positions, sales & marketing and client service rely upon them.  Let’s take a look.

Leadership:  Persuasion is an essential leadership trait as leaders are required to influence others to achieve a mutually agreed goal for the good of the Team.  It is about vision, people alignment, culture and communication.

Sales & Marketing:  As you have experienced firsthand, the most successful salespersons and marketing representatives are those who persuade you to buy their product or service.

Client Service: If you are in a position that involves customer service, you know that your success depends upon the trust and confidence placed on your wisdom, guidance and direction.  Your persuasive skills allow you to communicate how your products and services serve the client’s best interests.

The power of persuasion opens doors for you and makes your path to success much smoother.  While there is no doubt that persuasion is important in the business setting, it is also important in personal relationships with your spouse, children, parents and other loved ones.  Think how often those who depend upon you are asked to take a leap of faith based upon your sound judgment.  Possibly, it was your decision to place an aging parent into a long-term care facility, your stance on alcohol and drugs with your teenager, or how you persuaded your son or daughter to try out for the lead in the school play.

8 Tips to Enhance Your Persuading Skills

Persuasion techniques have their roots in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) or empathy.  To persuade, you must understand the person you are trying to influence.  Females usually respond best to feelings.  Men often respond best to visuals.  And, some people are best affected by audio.  To learn which is the best stimulus to focus your persuasion, study the other person’s speech patterns.  Do they say, “I see,” “I hear what you are saying” or “I feel that…?”  The more you become aware of the person you are dealing with, the more powerful your persuasion skills.

Matching body language is also a subtle yet effective persuasive techniques.  An analysis of thousands of recorded sales interviews and negotiations in business encounters support the findings of Albert Mehrabian and Ray Birdwhistell through which they determined that body language accounts for 60% to 80% of business negotiation.  Eye contact, gestures, posture, smile and touch lead the list.

While there are numerous additional activities that will enhance your ability to persuade, I would like to suggest the following eight tips:

  1. If you want to be heard, listen.  Giving the other person the chance to speak not only gives you vital clues to their wants, needs and mood, it also shows that you are there to look after their interests.  Listening also makes it easier for you to outline the benefits of your offering in terms they can understand.
  2. Argue your case with logic.  Do careful research on your ideas and those of your competitors and make sure that any claims you make can be supported by your process.
  3. The more hesitant language you use such as “isn’t it,” “you know,” “um mm” and “I mean” the less people are likely to believe your argument.
  4. Use positive rather than negative language:  instead of saying “You’re wrong about this,” say “That’s true, however…” or “I agree with what you say but have you considered….”
  5. Subtly compliment the other party.  For example:  “I see that you’ve done some excellent research into this.”  Even though they may realize that you are stroking them, evidence shows that they will still warm to you and be more open to you.
  6. Mirroring the other person’s mannerisms.  Research substantiates that 67% of people who use mirroring achieved a sale compared to 12% who did not.  People you mirror subconsciously feel more empathy with you.
  7. Remember the names of everyone you meet.  It shows that you are treating them as an individual.
  8. Show gratitude. Gratitude is an internally generated capability [internal link to gratitude post] that allows you to strengthen relationships and increase productivity.

The Power of Persuasion…a skill set that will take you to new levels of success!