Sales Management Digest

Increase Your Persuasion Power
Tom Sant
To master selling, one must master the art of persuasion; however, many salespeople have false assumptions about persuasion. Here are six of them, along with some tips on how to better understand persuasion and use it successfully.

1. Persuasion is a form of trickery.

False. Persuasion is not the same as coercion or manipulation. People choose to be persuaded. When we persuade, we help our customers and prospects make decisions; we don't trick them.

2. If you give customers enough facts, you'll get their business.

Wrong. People do not base their buying decisions on facts. Research shows that the first step in a decision process is emotional engagement. Without an emotional response at the outset, persuasion does not occur.

3. Some folks are natural salespeople.

No. Charisma and personality are helpful, but they do not guarantee success, particularly in complex or technical sales. Effective salespeople have certain habits and behavior in common – and that includes the so-called naturals, even if they're not consciously aware of the habits and behavior.

4. Price is the only thing that matters to most buyers.

This just isn't so. In fact, one study performed during the depths of the recent recession showed that four out of five large-scale deals went to vendors who were not offering the lowest price. Doctor Reed Holden, an economist who specializes in strategic pricing, has found that a subset of buyers looks only at price, but an even larger group looks at value and long-term relationships.

5. If you just follow the right sales method, you will succeed.

The truth is that no one method is right for every buyer or seller. Salespeople who try to follow a method that feels unnatural come across as phony. Likewise, tricks and gimmicks alienate sophisticated buyers. Customers respond to sincere interest, intelligence, and authenticity, not tricks.

6. Some words work like magic. If you use them in your pitch or proposal, the customer will automatically say yes.

The fact is that some words are toxic and a turn-off. The overuse of "marketing fluff" (e.g., such phrases as world class, best of breed, leading edge, seamless, synergistic, and so on) causes distrust.

To persuade effectively, focus on what matters to buyers, show them the value they can obtain by solving the problem they face, and then demonstrate how you can help with a solution they can trust. It's not easy, but it's a lot easier when we stop relying on beliefs that, as it turns out, just aren't true.
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