You need to be persuasive in business.
Whether it’s closing a sale, negotiating a contract or managing a team, you won’t get far without it.
The place to start, of course, is having the best case. Yet a well thought-out argument, however powerful, isn’t enough.
That’s because it only deals with what Daniel Kahneman refers to as ‘System 2’ thinking: a calm, deliberate, rational consideration of what you have to say. It doesn’t address ‘System 1’: the rapid, intuitive, emotional judgments that most of us form, in most situations, most of the time.
System 1 is a sensible tactic. It allows us to get through life without having to think. Instead, we rely on shortcuts – what psychologists refer to as ‘heuristics’.
This means that we need to ensure that our ‘System 2’ argument has to be supported by a range of ‘System 1’ signals.
The place to start is still Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, which was published over thirty years ago.
Cialdini came up with six principles that still work for us today.
If I do something for you, you’ll feel obliged to do something for me. So next time you’re negotiating, make a concession – and see what happens.
- Commitment and Consistency
People don’t like to backtrack. The more involved someone is in putting together your proposal, the more ownership they will feel – and the more committed they will be.
- Social Proof
When we’re not sure what to do, we look to other people. Consider including testimonials, photos and videos that show other people trust your business.
Someone is more easily persuaded if they like the person they’re talking to – and they tend to like people that are similar to them. How do you try to connect?
People trust authority figures. The way we dress, the credentials we’ve been awarded and the qualifications we’ve earned all count. Could you improve your LinkedIn profile?
If something’s in short supply, it has to be good – right? Think about whether you are over supplying your market and thereby devaluing what you do.
There’s much, much more to Cialdini’s work than can be covered in this post. To find out more, delve into his book – but be quick. There’s a new one out this autumn.
(Did you see what I did there?)
firstname.lastname@example.org / @JustinPDJ
Justin Jackson is the founder of Digital Remit, which helps companies build a compelling brand strategy, innovative marketing plan and powerful digital footprint. He has worked with corporations and startups, celebrities and politicians, TV channels and radio stations, firms and non profits. He’s also proud to offer business support in partnership with several UK Government agencies.