Before we start, let’s agree on a working definition of persuasion.
“Persuasion is how we can make people change the way they think, feel or behave.”
It covers a wide variety of techniques that you can use to influence the mind of others…
And don’t consider persuasion as something that you have to put up with, consider it as something you should use.
“We all sell something a product, an idea or a service.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Studies have shown persuasion to be the #1 skill that serial entrepreneurs rate as being the most important for their entrepreneurial success. This skill was rated higher than leadership, personal accountability, goal orientation and interpersonal skills.
Some people say – humorously – that entrepreneurship work is one third persuading investors to invest, one third customers to buy, and one last this persuading your parents to let you stray from the “conventional” path. And don’t get me started about Asian parents…
From my personal experience, I believe that I would not have accomplished the tenth of what I have today without working on improving my persuasion skills. This is unfortunately something that people don’t really teach you at school.
I remember that I had to convince investors (that I’ve never even met before in my life) during a seven-minute presentation, with seven slides.
I had to keep hustling and persuading to finally create and sell several companies.
Here are three tips about persuasion I think every entrepreneurs should know.
1) Always put yourself in their shoes
The other person is another human being. Just like you.
Many customers are treated as cash cows, when they really want is to feel that you understand them and their needs. Take time to discuss and understand their motives, and only propose a solution when you’ve really understood the problem. Otherwise you’re treating them like another row in your list of prospects. Also, they might have had a bad day, acknowledge that and don’t worry about rejection.
There’s a lot of hype around pivoting for startups. And that’s for a very valid reason: In order to survive you have to adapt. People that are too sales-minded will go to meetings expecting only to sell their product or services and miss out on all the other opportunities that could arise.
An entrepreneur who is really listening and willing to adapt will be able to find mutual value in the most unexpected areas.
Think about joint-ventures, sharing networks (suppliers, candidates, advisors), getting market feedback or public endorsements…
Nothing will happen if you don’t start persuading.
It’s about picking the phone, sending that dreaded email or simply asking your supplier for that extra discount that would be so valuable to you.
Those could be small gains, but when added altogether, they could simply make or break your business. You owe it to yourself, your employees and your investors.
When you are not comfortable with doing something, you will find hundreds of excuses not to do it. But deep down you know you should do it.
The hardest person to persuade is yourself and one of the best ways is t to deal with those useless excuses is to organize a mastermind group with other entrepreneurs. They will question your choices and force you to face those persuasive tasks you need to do.
Do you also believe that persuasion is the most important skill for success?
Vinh Ly is a private jet marketing specialist, with a focus on persuasion. He is the bestselling author of Billion Dollar Influence, a persuasion skills masterclass by someone who sells private jets for a living.
Photo credit: CC by US Army Africa