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The 7 Steps of Persuasion (that really work)

Much has been written about persuasion and whole libraries of books about sales – however, those people who are interested in learning about persuasion often run away screaming if you suggest they learn sales techniques.

a man with lots of hats

I said no, I don't want to buy a hat

Strange really – as they are both the same thing!

People think sales is a ‘hard’ approach (in all senses of the word), whilst persuasion is often referred to as ‘gentle’.

Sales is pushy, persuasion is subtle.

OK – let’s stop all this – they’re both based on a process and this is how it works:

Step one – know your customer/the person you want to persuade – let’s call him Fred. What are their problems? What matters to them (even though they may not admit it)? What are they interested in? Find out about motivation – Maslow and Herzberg both have models that outline how most of us operate.

Step two – establish rapport. People buy people first and the product or service last. Remember that there are two elements to this:

People buy people they like

People buy people like them

That means you need to be friendly and likeable and you also need to know Fred well enough to communicate on his level, in a way that makes him feel comfortable.

That’s where social media makes relationship building easy – you can chat informally and get to know people easily this way.

Step three – be credible. Before Fred will be willing to buy anything he will need to feel confident that you know what you’re talking about and are one of ‘the good guys’. This can be achieved by testimonials, referrals and Fred having access to a lot of information about you and your business.

Step four – know your product or service. What it is, what it does and what Fred will experience emotionally when he’s got it. What are the carrots that you can dangle in front of Fred that will make his mouth water?

Step five – discover the art of asking the right questions. It never ceases to amaze me that people chat a bit and then try and sell me something. They rarely bother to find out if I’m in the market for it, or if I have an interest in doing business with them. No questions = no information = no sale! That applies when you’re trying to persuade Fred to do something too – if you don’t hit his hot buttons he won’t be moved to do anything.

Step six – know how to present your product or service in a way that will make it almost impossible for Fred to say ‘no’. In order to do that you have to take the information you’ve gathered from your questioning process, then match your product and service to the answers to the questions so you ONLY provide the information that’s relevant to Fred.

If you’re selling a car, for instance, find out what aspects Fred is interested in. If he’s concerned about safety, telling him about the 0-60 performance isn’t going to achieve anything, neither is waxing lyrical about the luggage space. He needs to know about anti-lock brakes, crumple zones, child locks, etc.

Step seven – find out what you haven’t answered yet. If you’ve followed this process thoroughly Fred should be champing at the bit to take action – whether it’s to click a link on your website, join your mailing list or buy your latest ebook or brand spanking new product. If he’s still dithering there’s something you haven’t told him yet – and he won’t take action until that piece of information drops into place.

Persuasion is a process – but it’s a sales process, and there’s nothing wrong with a good sales process. Far from being the means of hitting people over the head with a blunt object until they say ‘yes’, it’s more like finding out what people really want and then giving it to them.

It works in person and it works in writing – just follow the seven steps and magic happens!


You can find Lesley on Twitter @Lesleywriter and over at her writing and presentation blog

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