Episode 182: December 13, 2012
by Lisa B. Marshall
You don’t have to be a politician or a lawyer to use the art of persuasion. I use persuasion every day when talking to my clients, to my employees, my spouse, and my kids. Getting people to see your point of view means getting what you want without being manipulative.
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Today I’ll share 4 tips to persuade like a pro.
Tip #1: Give and Take
You’ve probably heard the term “reciprocity.” It means a mutual exchange; a give and take. Reciprocity is one of the most important persuasion tools we have. It means I listen to you and find something we agree on. Then when I make my point, you’re much more likely to agree with me.
My daughters just got back from a birthday party with bags full of piñata candy. They tried to convince me that just a couple of pieces before dinner wouldn’t hurt anything. “That candy does look delicious,” I agreed. “I’d like to have a piece, too. Let’s go eat our dinner and then we can each have a piece afterward.” That’s persuasion through reciprocity.
You can use reciprocity with any audience. Reciprocity leaves both sides feeling like they’ve won.
Another approach is the short trial.
Tip #2: Short Trial
We’ve all received free samples of products in the mail. Consumer products marketers know that the best way to get new customers is to convince them to give it a try. That’s why we see so many free samples and free trial offers. Mattresses, weight loss products, satellite TV service, and even website subscriptions hook customers in with a free trial.
But have your every thought about using this method in everyday situations? Let’s say you’re a teacher and you need volunteers for your classroom. Some parents are hesitant to commit for a full year when they don’t know what they’re getting into. This is a great time to suggest a short trial. Offer to let parents come in one or two weeks during the month and then decide if they want to commit to more. If you ask for a big commitment up front, you’ll probably only get the most die-hard parent volunteers. But if you offer a trial or smaller opportunities to help out, more parents will sign up.
Tip #3: Start Big
“Start big” is a method you commonly see used in fundraising. High-priced monthly contributions are suggested and usually come with a desirable prize package. At the end, there’s always the option for a smaller monthly donation or a one-time contribution.
Starting big is similar to the short trial method. I’ve seen my local PTA use this to get volunteers. “We’re looking for someone to run the read-a-thon and book fair this year.” That’s a big, time-consuming job! Most people will look around and hope someone else steps up to the challenge. “We also have opportunities to work the book fair for a night or to come in for an hour and help count read-a-thon money.” Whew! That’s much more manageable for most of us. Starting with the big request and then offering smaller options is an effective way to get more people involved.
Tip #4: Show the Benefits
Good sales people know that making an emotional connection is an important part of persuasion. Use a powerful story to make that connection and show the benefits.
If you owned a home-based business selling cleaning products, what kind of story would you tell? I was invited to a demonstration of natural and organic cleaning products recently. The cleaning demo was interesting, but didn’t win me over. But the speaker did two things that caused me to write a big check. First, she helped me envision myself with a clean home and lots of extra time on my hands. Then she created a link between toxic cleaning chemicals and cancer and other diseases, and claimed her products would keep my family healthy. These powerful stories hit home with me and I became a customer.
If you’re on the PTA at your child’s school or on the board of a local charity, you can use this “show the benefits” method to find volunteers. If you talk to someone who wants to volunteer, but is currently out of work and job-hunting, show how getting involved can help make important connections. Tell a story of someone in the same situation who volunteered for a few projects and made a network connection that led her to a new job. Explain that it’s a great chance for her to work with new people, show her talents, and keep using her skills.
These everyday persuasion skills are useful at work, at home, and in your social life. Look for opportunities to try them out. Then come back here and tell me how us how it went.
This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker. Passionate about communication; your success is my business.