James Borg does a pretty good job in this book. He provides insights on the finer art of persuasion. Contrary to popular belief, when we are being persuaded by others what we want is more important to us than what makes sense to us rationally. When we understand this tendency, it is easy to see how we can influence others.
Persuasion is not about logical arguments but about communication and appearance. Have you ever been in a position in which someone who didn’t work hard and was under-qualified got promoted instead of you at work? This frustrating situation is more common than you might think. It is because the decisions we make – including the decisions our bosses make – are not always based on logic.
In other words, why isn’t the most obvious means of persuasion also the most effective?It’s because instead of paying attention to logical arguments, we put more faith in the things we want to hear. Take two people presenting their ideas to their boss to start a business project. One of them shares a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why they should take it slowly, step-by-step. The other person is brimming with enthusiasm, saying that it’s better to dive straight in, but doesn’t present any real logical arguments to do so.
Who do you think the boss will select as project leader? Most likely the second one – the person who was more engaging and was enthusiastic about what the boss wanted to hear.
This common scenario demonstrates that the speaker’s personality is in many ways is more important than the content or rationale. This is also evident in article selection for academic journals. When researchers want to publish their findings, they send their papers to academic journals, hoping that one of them will select their work for publication.
Always be warm and friendly and pretend you know what you are talking about. If you are having trouble coming up with enough detail, behave in a friendly and humorous manner, as this will help to conceal any gaps in your knowledge.
This strategy proved effective in an experiment where an actor pretended to be a well-informed professor and presented a talk for an audience of experts. The talk was repetitive and even included contradictory statements but remarkably, the audience stated that the talk was highly informative. This was because the actor was trained to appear warm and friendly and to share humorous anecdotes in his presentation. The actor’s charming yet fake professor character concealed holes in his knowledge and made him appear reliable.
Borg provides another strategy tip: Influence others by simplifying and organizing information so it’s easier to understand. If you are a salesperson and are addressing a customer, you should limit the customer’s choice to just two items or services. Although we know detailed information is important for credibility, no one likes to be bombarded with too much information. We tend to shy away from too many options, but we do like to compare a couple of options in order to decide whether we want to buy something or not.
Another method you can use to persuade people is to organize information into categories. If you are a salesperson explaining the advantages of a particular washing machine, for example, it’s a bad idea to just list them randomly because it can confuse the customer. Instead, try coming up with specific categories to structure your thoughts, enabling you present them in a more digestible way.
Using categories like “environmental advantages” (saves water, requires less energy) and “efficiency” (faster than other machines, bigger so you can wash more clothes in one load) will help you order the information you wish to provide the customer and help the customer make a decision that suits her needs.
Another tip – Talking vaguely makes your customers think you know more about them than you do.
Do you believe in fortune-telling? Maybe not, but most likely you’ve looked at your horoscope before and found that it somehow sounded plausible. So how is this possible?Many fortune-tellers employ a technique called cold reading. How do you apply this to business? Building a relationship with your customers is important, as this enables them to trust you. In order to do so, it helps for you to give the impression that you know a lot about them and their needs and wants, even if you don’t.
Curiosity is the key to persuasion. Catching attention is vital because we are impatient and tend to lose interest quickly. Living in the information age, there are so many things vying for our attention, such as Facebook notifications and a mass of other updates on our smartphones. This means that we have to make frequent, rapid decisions on whether we want something or not.
People don’t buy what they need, but what they want. Imagine you’ve just seen a commercial for a fantastic new smartphone. Even though you already have a great phone, we can all relate to the feeling of still considering buying it. Why? The fact is, if you can evoke desire for your product, people will buy it regardless of whether they need it or not. Most salespeople try to seek out a way to give their customers precisely what they need. However, it can be more effective to focus on what they want instead.
One way to spark their desire is to alter their perspective.When you alter someone’s perspective, specifically their self-perspective, you can also change the way they think and behave. This is because we subconsciously want our behavior to line up with our attitude (or self-perception). So if you change one, the other can also change.
Influencing people depends on covering up your true intentions so you seem less desperate. Say you’re trying to decide which laptop you want to buy. Who would you trust more: a salesperson or a friend who’s used both computers? If you want to have more sales success, get your customers to sell for you. If you can get your customers to recommend to others, this will increase your sales and make you appear far less needy. A strong thumbs up to referral marketing.
We tend to trust the opinions of other customers rather than the opinions of salespeople, so we should therefore be trying to think of ways to advertise products through the opinions of others.
We all have the ability to persuade others. By using effective strategies in how we interact, we can influence those around us and be more convincing not only about ourselves, but also about the products we want to sell. Check out the book here: