5 Tips On How To Improve Your Persuasion Skills

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by Tom Watson on September 7, 2010

When you own your own business, the act of persuasion becomes a skill you want to acquire.

Of all the skills in life, having the ability to persuade someone to your way of thinking may be the most profitable.

You could be the best “fill in the blank” in the world, but if you can’t persuade someone to do business with you, you are out of luck, and money.

So how does one go about improving their ability to persuade others? Well…much study has been done on that topic, and today I’ll discuss 5 tips to improve your persuasion skills.

Remember, persuasion is not just a skill gifted to a chosen few. It’s a science, and researchers who study it have formulated this series of rules for moving people in your direction. Applying these rules can make you a more effective (and wealthier) business owner.

 5 tips to improve your persuasion skills

 # 1 – Be the first to give. Studies have shown that we are persuaded more by people who have done something for us first. This includes giving bigger tips to servers who give us a mint with the check (isn’t it amazing how such a small act can trigger a response in another person?).

Researchers also discovered other tantalizing clues into our brain. They found people more likely to help work colleagues with their projects if they have helped us with ours (makes sense).

Requests that are personalized are most persuasive of all. Consider this, when researchers randomly sent out surveys to their study group, they were able to double responses if they added one step. They simply personalized the request by placing a handwritten post-it note on the survey.

# 2 – Don’t offer too many choices. You would think people want more options, and they just might, but the reality is that people do best with just a few choices. Whether it’s the number of service levels you offer your potential cleaning customers or the number of different plans you offer for carpet cleaning (or whatever you are selling), too many choices frustrate people.

Consider this tidbit, companies offering a small number of retirement plans have far greater enrollment than companies that offer a large number of plans. The moral here is keep it simple. When you do, people make choices, when you don’t they make no choice at all, which is the opposite of what you want!

# 3 – Argue against self-interest. Trust is critical when dealing with others. It’s a key component to becoming persuasive. If you can’t establish trust you are in trouble.

The surest way to be perceived as honest is to admit to a small weakness in your argument, product or business immediately prior to communicating the strongest positive argument for your product or service.

# 4 – Losses are more persuasive than gains. Instead of telling your audience what they stand to gain from taking your advice or buying your product, research shows that people are often more persuaded if you tell them what they stand to lose out on if they don’t take your advice or buy your product.

Here is a case study for you to ponder. In 2003, the Oldsmobile brand far exceeded it sales projections despite the company reducing its advertising and product development budgets. Why was that? General Motors decided to discontinue the car because of slow sales. As a result the car became something people would be losing out on even though before the news few people wanted one.

# 5 – Make people feel as if they’ve already made progress toward a goal. Consider this case study. A car wash offering a loyalty card nearly doubled customer retention by changing their offer from “Buy eight washes, get one free” to “Buy 10 washes, get one free—and we’ll start you off by crediting you for two washes.”

As you can see, the basic premise of the offer remained the same (buy 8 get 1 free). All they did was made people feel like they already had something invested in the end goal by re-wording the offer more creatively.

Well there you have it, a simple and easy set of rules to follow that will make you more persuasive than you already are. These tips are golden, and will give you the leg up on whoever your competition is.

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