Have you ever felt that selling your products or ideas is like you were talking to a brick wall? No matter what you try, you simply can’t get your target to see your point of view or your vision. Anyone can relate to the frustration and lack of resolution that comes from this type of exchange.
What if you could learn how to consistently persuade others and get the results you need? Not sell; but persuade. By thinking like a decision maker, you can influence outcomes and sway opinions and close deals. There are three strategic methods you can use that will sharpen your skills as a persuasive communicator. You need to do your homework, put yourself in their shoes and gain their trust. Here’s a closer look at these three elements and how to make them work to your benefit.
In sales, management, litigation, marketing, corporate workings and more, there are decision makers holding the power to make or break your progress. You’ll often have a pitch that illustrates a deep understanding of your own product or position. While that’s important, your decision maker likely doesn’t have the interest in or knowledge of what you are trying to sell. In fact, it will turn them off when you begin a meeting talking about yourself and your product. You must switch your focus and learn all about who is sitting in front of you! In order to create a positive experience, 69 percent of buyers said that listening is key.
Do your homework
A generic presentation or non-memorable pitch is a path to failure. Before meeting with your client or whoever it is you’re looking to persuade, make sure to gather some basic information. What are your decision maker’s demographics? Start with age, ethnic background, education, gender, where they were raised and if they have special interests such as charity groups, sports teams, books or family. Once you answer some of these questions it will help you begin to think like your decision maker and develop a memorable connection.
Another way to make a lasting impression is to take note of generational communication style idiosyncrasies. This is especially important to pay attention to if you and your target are in different generations. For example, baby boomers are often self-taught on technology, so you might want to be careful with how technical you get. Gen X is not big on authority and doesn’t like being micromanaged; they need to feel like they’re in control. Millennials are tech savvy researchers. If you present something that is not true (either intentionally or unintentionally), a Millennial will fact check you within seconds. One thing we all have in common is being appreciated and showing that appreciation will go a long way. By doing some homework and connecting with your target, you help overcome the assumption that you’re only there to make a sale. Building relationships is a huge step in being persuasive.
By being prepared and knowledgeable of their background you will have answers to questions like: What are their pain points? What problems do they need solved? What is most important to them? In order to persuade and change attitudes and assumptions, you must be able to see from their perspective. Think through their decision-making process along with their challenges based on what you know about them. Consider things like to whom do they have to answer? Is there a CEO, a board of directors, shareholders or other authority that will be scrutinizing your target’s decision? While there may only be one person in front of you, an average of six people are involved in most purchase decisions.
By thinking through these questions prior to your meeting or pitch, you’ll be able to uncover any potential objections in advance. When you’re prepared to address concerns with an immediate solution, you will make a great first impression.
Make them care
The final element can be tough, especially when your target or customer doesn’t want to be there. If they don’t have an interest in your cause or product and are being forced to sit and listen to you, the likelihood of getting their buy-in is already reduced. Since people make decisions about their own needs or biases, you’ll have a lot of ground to cover to make them care. If your decision maker can relate, they probably already care. So finding a way for them to relate will make your quest a little easier.
One of the best ways to make them care is to develop trust. Ask questions and then provide helpful solutions by assuming the role of an advisor. Be truthful! Sadly, only 18 percent of sales people are seen as authentic and trustworthy. However, truth leads to credibility and credibility leads to trust, which then leads to the ability to persuade. How can you possibly expect people to care about what you’re saying if they don’t trust you? This is an important piece of the persuasion puzzle.
Do you want to sell, or do you want to persuade? Instead of making your pitch and hoping that something sticks, be intentional and lead your decision makers to your desired conclusion. By putting yourself in their shoes and thinking through their challenges, getting to know them and making them care about what you’re saying, you’ll be far more successful in your efforts. Anyone can sell, but it takes a true strategist to think like a decision maker and change an outcome through persuasion.
Author Juliet Huck, founder of the Academy of Persuasion e-learning series