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Be very clear about what it is you want to say. A lot of people think about this in terms of content, but anything you say is going to contain content. So what you really need to think about is message. What is the key message or messages you want to get across? This can be summarised under two headings. What do they want to know? What do you want to tell them? Also consider what action do you want them to take and what reaction do you want them to have?
Focus on the benefits for the other person and not simply the features of your product. What’s persuasive for the purchaser is what’s in it for them. What need or want or desire or preference are you trying to meet? And remember something may be very attractive to you, but not attractive at all to the person you’re trying to persuade.
If somebody raises an objection, they’re actually raising an unmet need. So see all objections as unmet needs. If somebody said, for example ‘that’s a great idea, but it’s going to take too long’, then the unmet need is for it to take less time, be shorter. If somebody said, it’s going to be too complex, then the unmet need is wanting it to be simpler. And so there’s a key point here: the solution to any objection is to find its opposite. Then if you can offer the opposite to the objection, and meet the need, then it’s really very difficult for the other person to continue to object, because you’ve just met that unmet needs.
This changes the focus from what to how. Different people respond differently to ways of having the messages presented. So think about the way you’re going to reach your audience. For example, would somebody prefer to look at your proposal first in writing, giving them a chance to think about it, to reflect on it before having to come to a decision? Do they actually like dialogue? They didn’t like the idea of, of, of being persuaded through discussion. So it’s different strokes for different folks.
If you were going on holiday – let’s say to France what currency would you take? The answer presumably is euros because that’s the preferred currency of the host country. And if you took pound Sterling and insisted in spending a fortnight using only that currency, I don’t think you’d get very far and people would think you’re a bit odd to say the least. In a similar way, we all have our own preferred currencies – our own way of trading in terms of dialogue and language, approach. For example, one of my preferred currencies is that I’m very visual. If you present something to me in a way that I can see it as a diagram or a model or a picture, I’m much more likely to pay attention and also to have an understanding of what it is you’re trying to get across.
So remember: it’s not your own currency that matters here. It’s the currency of your intended audience.
People buy you as the presenter of the idea, perhaps as much as they buy the product or service. People buy people; YOU matter as part of the presentation.
This follows on from the previous tip. People buy passion, people, buy commitment, people buy energy. Conversely if you present to somebody and your voice is flat and monotonous, you’ll seem to lack conviction.
Think of making your prososal in two sessions. In the first meeting, outline your proposal and give them time to think and also time and opportunity to object, so you can take away their objections, their responses. And then you can come back again with a second version of the proposal that addresses their objections. If you just try and do a one-stop shop and sell a pitch or a proposal in the one meeting, then it doesn’t really give the other person any time to think which they may feel is therefore pressure selling. And of course it means that if they raise objections in that meeting, you’re going to have to think on your feet.
This is something covered in an earlier podcast; the power of positive language. The pace, the tempo, and particularly the vocabulary, the power of words, all of these techniques can really add value and persuasion power.
The most persuasive approach is one that builds on something your audience has already started. So quite useful to have a conversation with someone to find out not only what product or service they want, but what particular attribute of that service is important, what characteristic or feature is of particular benefit or attraction to them. If you present back to them, the idea that’s already occurred to them, then you’re much more likely to have a successful sell.
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