Persuasion is vital in almost all business (life) transactions. But the question is, can everyone master the art of persuasion? Or can we all become persuasive? The psychology of learning says yes. We can learn and unlearn behaviors. So if you want to become a persuasive person, there’s a hundred per cent chance that you’ll become one.
Politicians and business tycoons around the world have mastered the art of persuasion. Needless to say that in order to win elections and business deals, you need to have powerful persuasion techniques. This is the reason why both politicians and businesses use persuasive advertisements on different kinds of media.
The question is, how can you become a persuasive person? While there are hundreds of books that will teach you on this subject, this article will teach you some basics and fundamental principles of persuasion. Interested? Okay, learn more from the list below.
Natures of persuasion
1. To persuade is not to manipulate. Persuasion is a process of changing people’s attitude or behavior toward some event, idea, and object through written or visual presentations. Manipulation (psychological manipulation) on the other hand is a process of changing people’s behavior or perception through abusive or deception tactics. Persuasive people know the difference between these two processes. It is simple anyway. Using a deceptive strategy to manipulate other people is definitely not persuasion.
2. Persuasion works better on persuadable. Of course virtually everyone can be persuaded, but those people who are still on the process of decision making are the perfect target of persuasion. This is the reason why politicians spend millions of dollars just to get undecided voters vote for them. They understand that focusing on those people can give them better opportunity to accumulate considerable number of votes in the upcoming election.
3. Context and timing are important components of persuasion. Persuasion techniques better work in right place and right time. Why do you think media ads work until this time? What makes them effective? Simple, companies understand that in order to sell their products, they need to understand both context and time. That’s why all ads have something in common – they illustrate first that there is a problem, then they offer solutions that only them have. The result? People will most likely subscribe to their ideas or suggestions because of the fear – the fear that if they don’t do so, they will be in danger. People wants and needs are dependent on their location and time.
4. Persuasion means consistency. To make people interested on what you are talking about is to stay consistent on your principles and ideas. Being consistent on your statement on an issue captivates other people’s attention. As a result, people will most likely think that you are a reliable source of information. If that happens, people will become easier to believe in you.
The Ingredients of Persuasion
1. Reciprocity. Most of the time, people tend to reciprocate good deeds of their fellows. So if you gave something that is important to someone, he/she will return the favor to you. Reciprocity works in all cultures around the world. This general behavioral tendency is due to evolution process. Our ancestors survived because of the give and take – especially the returning of favor. To make persuasion process works faster, you need to give something in value to other people first before you can easily convince them to believe in you.
2. Persistency. As discussed above, persistency plays a significant role in persuasion process. Great leaders are not only rhetorically genius but also persistent in their message and values. The reason for this is, people examine the credibility of the source of information. And one of the components of being credible is consistency. Swinging your stand on either side of the argument from time to time shakes people’s trust. So you better maintain your words along the way.
3. Praise people. One of the most effective ways to make people trust you is through praising. Simple compliment can create rapport between you and others. This is most effective especially on people who see themselves as neglected individuals. Employees for example who never appreciated by their boss despite of their good performance will feel good if you compliment them. People like them are looking for people who understand them and feel sympathy with them. But of course it must be an honest compliment.
4. Achievable goals. Most people only believe in you if you show them an achievable goals. This does not mean you should set low goals. Instead you target a goal that is within your capacity to achieve. At the end of the day, achieving higher than your goals is rewarding than being fall short of what has been set. In other words, be realistic on your goals. Because when people expect something, they want to see it at the end.
5. Don’t underestimate. Do not undermine the capability of other people. If you are selling something, do not think that people are not interested in your offer. All you can do is lay your offer. But let people to decide whether to buy or not to buy your products. Because no one really knows what people are up to – what they want and what they need. The only way to determine it is to give them the freedom to choose.
6. Scarcity awareness. Most of the time people buy products that are scarce. This phenomenon is due to fear and elegance. Buying due to fear happens when primary needs are scarce. Scarcity threatens needs’ satisfaction. Thus people tend to rush to markets to buy the goods. On the other hand, elegance has significant impact on buying behavior. This happens when someone who has buying capacity buys something (e.g. limited edition watch, car, cell phone, etc.) that is not a primary need but provides significant impact on social status. In other words, people tend to buy stuffs that are considered highly valuable – value depends on supply and demand. Most things become valuable when supply is limited.
7. Sense of urgency. Most seasoned sales persons use this technique to persuade customers. What they do is to make customers aware that their offer is only affordable at present and may not in the next day. This sense of urgency forces customer to think and decide fast to afford the stuff. Doing this you need to instill in people’s mind the tremendous value of your product – that if they don’t buy it right now it’s going to be a big waste for them. Use your creativity to execute this powerful technique.
8. Great impression. First impression is vital in instilling trust in people’s mind. When they see at the first time that you look someone they can count on, they will most likely trust you. But make sure that they get what they expected from you. In other words, prove to them that you are indeed a trustworthy person. Therefore their impression must be congruent with your actual trait or behavior.
9. Truthful evaluation. Although telling the truth sometimes hurt, doing it in a right time and a right way makes people think that you’re concern to them. Making honest comments without any hidden goal is starting point to a better relationship. You’ve got to make it clear that your purpose is to make things right not to humiliate others. It is in this way that people will consider you as a genuine person.
10. Building rapport. To gain trust from others, you need to show your clean intention. The best thing to start is to build a good connection with other people. Know what they want and their passions. Share your personal stories too. Build an ease environment. Although it sounds hard, it really helps you capture their trust. During this process, it is important that you establish communication with them in a regular basis.
11. Flexibility in behavior. Flexibility means a lot in the persuasion process. Behavioral flexibility allows you to effectively connect with different unique individuals. Remember that everyone has unique pattern of traits and behavior. If you are a person who follow one set of behavioral principle, then you might find it hard to relate with other people who behave differently. So flexibility will help you deal with the complexity of persuasion process.
12. Make your energy contagious. Needless to say, energy is necessary either in public speech or in business demo. But to have energy is not enough. You’ve got to be contagious. You need to transfer that energy to your audience, or to other people to whom you are talking to. Make them excited and motivated. You can see this among great speakers. They make the crowd live and energetic. Being able to transfer your energy does not only make talking process exciting but also heart lifting. Make your listener active.
13. Communicate clearly. Clear communication is the heart of persuasion process. This is the most important thing – express ideas the clearest way possible. To be able to communicate effectively, you need to size up the people you’re interested in. What this means is that, you need to determine the receiver of your message. People of different ages have different capability of absorbing the message. In other words, deliver your message in such a way that it is easy to understand by your receiver. You cannot talk to children using complex words. So keep it simple so that no one will miss your ideas.
14. Ample preparation. Preparation creates confidence. When you deliver a speech or a discussion, you need to be confident. Confidence is undoubtedly one of the most vital ingredients of persuasion. How can you persuade somebody to believe in your message if you are not confident in what you say? It is impossible. Take everything into consideration.
15. Certainty. Along with being confident, you need to show people that you are certain on what you say. Again, this comes from ample preparation. Study your topic of discussion and make some research on areas you’re not sure. Provide reliable information as backup in case people ask questions out of the box. If possible, provide scientific explanations or facts to make your point stronger. This will not only help you gain confidence but also makes people think you’re an expert. As a result, they will most likely believe in your ideas.
Bottom line is you’ve got to be believable in the eyes of others. If you will be able to create that charisma, you can be able to persuade them easily. So the successful process of persuasion starts in you.
Persuasion techniques are also important in business. In fact, success in business depends on persuasive techniques. Because at the end of the day, it’s not all about the products but how effectively companies persuade people to buy those products.
8 Business Persuasion Techniques to Persuading People
To make people become loyal to your brand, you need to have an effective business persuasion technique. Oftentimes big businesses around the world use persuasion of many forms. Some are obvious while others are seemingly latent.
If you are running a business, or a manager who wants to succeed in your career, here are some of the business persuasion techniques you can use.
These techniques are scientifically proven. Meaning, it is being backed up by scientific studies. So you don’t have to doubt. Okay, let’s begin.
1. The power of reason
In 1978 Ellen Langer conducted a research which investigated how people respond to a request. The study used different sets of sentences that researchers tailored in a certain pattern.
Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
What do you think the effect of wording of these sentences people’s compliance? Here’s the result:
The first sentence “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?” got about 60% of compliance.
The second “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” 93% compliance.
And the third one “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” 94% compliance.
What does the result really mean? The result suggests that people would most likely comply to a request if the reason of such request is stated. This is the power of “because”. In other words, you are more willing to comply with somebody’s request if you hear the reason behind such request than simply a request.
This happens because our brain is always looking for a solution, an answer to every challenge; solving puzzles and crosswords. Understanding how the brain works helps you take advantage its power.
It is in the same principle where TV commercials, products demonstrations and engaging speeches are founded. It is not how good the product or an idea will be but how beneficial will it be to the listener or the receiver of the message.
If you want people buy your product or believe in your idea you’ve got to establish its importance. It must offer a solution to people’s problems.
2. The Power of Gestures
Body or hand gestures are important ingredients of speaking. If used correctly, these gestures can boost positive impact of the message to the audience.
There are different hand movements you can use to signal the emotion or intensify the message you are trying to convey. Most effective speakers and communicators have mastered the art of body gestures.
The question is, what is the proper way of using gestures? Many experts would suggest different technique. Vanessa Van Edwards in her article 20 Hand Gestures You Should Be Using suggests that to effectively use gestures, stay in a box. According to her, an appropriate gesture space is from top of chest to the bottom of your waist.
In addition, some suggest that showing an open palm when speaking elicits approval. Speakers who open their palm when speaking appeared to be likable and friendly. Palms hidden appeared authoritative.
So every time you are convincing others, try to make hand gestures with an open palm to get favorable response.
3. Limit the Choices
One of the most fascinating truths about life is the number of choices we have every day. You can choose from a brand of a car, a school to enroll in, to a person we marry.
But in an attempt to make a better sales, you can’t have unlimited choices for your customers.
Why? Studies show that the more choices shoppers will have, the lower the number of buying tendency. More options simply overwhelms due to so many information needed to analyse. Such mental overload paralyzes proper decision making.
To make great sales, limit your options.
4. Loss Aversion
In economics, there’s a concept called Loss Aversion. This theory suggests that losing cause more powerful psychological pain than gaining. The same principle applies in punishment or penalty. In fact penalty is more powerful strategy to make people complaisant than giving reward.
This principle can applied in business too. How? Simply focus on addressing what the customers will have lost if they don’t buy your products – if they don’t believe in your ideas.
Do not just demonstrate the benefits of your products but also instil into your customers’ mind the opportunity they miss if they don’t buy. Sounds peculiar right? But it works. Savvy business marketers apply the same technique.
5. Use the Power of Color
Color has significant impact on mental processes such as buying behavior. In business, the use of colors can the tremendous. Because colors may elicit customer’s buying mood that will result to more purchases.
Different colors have different effect on emotion.
Blue – often used by big businesses because it elicits productivity and not invasive.
Red – is used in most restaurants to stimulate appetite.
Black – elicits feelings of sophistication.
Pink – suggests femininity, neatness and calmness.
Learning how to use colors to your advantage can make significant success in your business.
6. Apply scarcity Principle
Scarcity principle is a concept that explains why people mostly buy products that are nearly out of supply.
In a study, researchers found out that the sales on cookies were somewhat dependent on the supply of cookies. If the number of cookies in a jar decreases, the sales increase. Most people buy cookies from a jar that contains fewer pieces of cookies than on a full cookie jar.
In the world of business, creating an illusion of scarcity can help influence people’s buying behaviour. The general reality is that, when something is out of supply it becomes more and more valuable. As a result, people tend to make an irrational decision.
Applying scarcity principle you’re not only persuading people but also directing them to behave the way you want without being noticed.
7. Tell Stories
We all tell stories every time we hang up with somebody. In reality, stories bind us all together – an important component of relationship formation.
Stories connect the speaker and his/her audiences. By telling stories, people feel that you are, behind all of sophistication, a normal person – a person who experiences problem and finds solutions to those problems.
Stories also can make people perceive you as authentic. Especially when you share the similar story your audiences have. Because they feel sympathy, they will gradually build trust in you.
8. The Persuasive Power of Mimicry
One of the most influential technique you can use for your customers or people whom you want to gain approval from is mimicry. This method is proven by several scientific studies. The question is how are you going to use this technique?
James Larsen on his article designed an exercise to illustrate the power of mimicry.
Here’s the exercise:
Sit down opposite your spouse (or significant other) and start a conversation. Watch and listen closely, and copy what you see and hear following these rules:
1) Mimic major body movements after a 2-4 second delay. If you see leg crossing, cross your legs. If you see a face touch, touch your face.
2) Be careful to move the opposite side of your body so your movements match your partner’s movements. If you see a face touch with the right hand, copy this movement with your left hand. To your partner, your movements will resemble looking in a mirror.
3) Restate every other comment your partner makes using the same words you hear. If your partner says “I don’t think I like Billy Johnson one little bit,” you say “You don’t think you like Billy Johnson one little bit.”
The main outcome of this activity is gaining closeness. Doing the technique above allows you to influence customers’ buying behavior. The feeling of closeness makes normal customer buys a product you are selling.
Compliance techniques are powerful in influencing consumer behavior. Have you noticed a brand of shampoo, soap, and other commodities introduced in different media commercials? Either you are aware or not, chances are your buying behavior has been influenced by those commercials.
What do you think your reason of choosing specific rather than its competitors?
This is how compliance techniques work. But most of the time most people are not aware of this psychological force.
Before discussing compliance techniques, let us define first what compliance is.
Compliance refers to changing people’s behavior due to request or direction of other person. Compliance is different from obedience. In compliance, the person or group who made the request do not necessarily exist. While in obedience the order is made by an explicit authority.
Marketing products or convincing people to do things you want them to do is a whole psychological process. The question is how can you make people comply or do your request or buy the products you are selling without imposing authority?
The answer? Compliance techniques. This article discusses four effective compliance techniques you can use both in daily life experiences and business marketing. Let’s dive in.
This technique starts at a small followed by a bigger request. You are basically asking for small favor from others and if they say yes to your small request, it’s time to make the bigger ones. The principle behind this is that, people will find it hard to decline if they already have made a commitment (the foot is already in the door). For example if you want to borrow a large amount of money from your friend, do not tell the actual amount. Instead start low. The moment you feel his/her confidence of lending you money, you can tell him/her the real amount you intend to borrow. At this point, he/she may find it difficult to say no.
The door-in-the-face technique is the opposite of foot-in-the-door technique. In this technique, a bigger request (usually a refused one) comes first. This is followed by a smaller and more reasonable one. Taken the same example discussed above, you start borrowing bigger amount of money. If your friend refuses, then time to reduce the amount.
Lowball technique is usually used in marketing and sale strategies. In this technique once a commitment is made the cost of that commitment is increased. Cost here does not always mean money. It could be anything of value. For example a salesman is selling you a desktop computer for a certain amount (usually low). Once you get interested and buy the said computer set, the salesman then tells you that you need to buy accessories in order to use the computer (because some parts are not included e.g. mouse, keyboard, camera, memory, etc.).
That’s-not-all technique is somewhat opposite of the previous technique. In this compliance strategy, a salesman who is persuading the customer to buy his product is making an additional offer before the consumer makes any decision.
“But wait – that’s not all! If you buy the computer set now, we’ll be giving you one set of speakers”.
By offering something free, a customer may feel that he/she must return they favor – that he/she must buy the computer set. The principle behind the effectiveness of this technique is reciprocity. If you received a favor, you feel obligated to return the favor.
Although these compliance techniques work, the effectiveness may vary among cultures. People in individualist cultures (like United States) may respond differently to a certain request (e.g. Foot-in-the-Door Technique) than people in collectivist cultures such as the Philippines.
Americans have no concern about the consistency of the request (from small to big). While people in collectivist cultures put emphasis on the consistency of the request.
What technique you find more effective and interesting?
Psychology works in every aspect of life. In business, psychology is a powerful tool you can use to achieve success. Persuasion is a perfect example how psychology works.
Most of small businesses struggle not mainly due to products but marketing issues. Most successful businesses around the world don’t have the best products, but the best marketing strategies.
One common challenge in marketing is persuasion – how to convert visitors into real customers. But if you use the techniques discussed above, you’ll have a better chance to outsmart the competition.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.