Regardless of what use case you have in terms of persuasion, it’s always important to start with the basics. If you already know them, you can review them, and if you’re an absolute beginner, you get a stable foundation to work with.
In this article, we are going to cover the basic principles and techniques for multiple use cases of persuasion:
- The Basics of Selling;
- The Basics of Marketing;
- The Basics of Negotiating;
- The Basics of Fundraising;
- The Basics of Charisma/Presence;
- The Basics of Presenting;
- The Basics of Conflict Resolution;
Let’s take a look at each of these in detail:
1) The Basics of Selling
The process of selling can usually be broken down into four key moments:
- Lead generation;
- Lead qualification and education;
- Selling and objection-handling;
Naturally, it’s a funnel – people come in, in large quantities, at the first stage, and they decrease in numbers as they stop along the process, at an earlier or later stage.
At the lead generation stage, some sort of process must trigger the inclusion of people in a sales process. It may be someone opting into a free report to be on your newsletter, it may be active cold-calling or cold-emailing based on a prospect list, or others.
💡 A technique recommended for this stage is Empathy.That is, verbalising to the other side their fears, suspicions, or just what they may be feeling. This makes them drop their guard and level with you. “I know this is always awkward”, “I know you’re busy”, and others tell the other side, “Oh, they get it”, and make them be more reasonable with you;
At the lead qualification and education stage, you will progress your targets through the customer journey in some way. They go from stages of sophistication in terms of dealing with their issue (or, at least, stages of awareness). You want to take them from people that don’t know what’s wrong, or how to fix it, to people who know exactly what the problem is, and how to fix it – usually, with your offering.
💡 A technique recommended for this stage is Indoctrination.That is, educating your prospects in terms of how you do things, your unique frameworks, ways of doing things, unique names for methods and approaches, and so on. It’s making them adopt your way of thinking and doing things – which will make them much more persuadable later.
At the proposing and objection-handling stage, you are actively selling. That’s it. Telling the person, “This is what I have, this is how much it costs, and this is what it will do for you”. Naturally, depending on how qualified the target is – and how much your offering addresses their needs – there may be many objections, or the person may just throw money at you!
💡 A technique recommended at this stage is ReshapingReshaping is an objection-handling technique that consists of taking someone’s emotional objection, about a specific issue, and turning into a more general principle, which is easier to tackle. For example, someone objecting about the price. You reshape the objection to not be about price, but about value, and quality. And then you show why you have that value and that quality. It’s a way to “avoid” the original objection, turning it into something easier to tackle.
At the negotiation stage, the person is accepting your offer, but they may not accept it as-is. They may want specific terms, a specific price, or they may have other demands that are required before they are willing to commit. It’s up to figure out how hard to push, and whether to maximise the sale value, or whether to prioritise the relationship.
💡 A technique recommended at this stage is Future Lock-InThis technique consists of giving someone a small benefit, at the beginning, in exchange for a long-term commitment, or a benefit later, which people will not notice. For example, in car payments, you usually see, “Buy today, start paying in 2 months”. It seems excellent in the short-term. But in 5/10/20 years of paying a car, it’s completely irrelevant. And the hype, in that moment, leads the person to buy. Small short-term benefit in return for a long-term commitment.
2) The Basics of Marketing
The process of marketing can usually be broken down into:
- Defining your positioning;
- Stating specific claims or potential;
- Tailoring the offer to the person;
At the stage of defining your positioning, you want to define where you stand, compared to the competition. Each product, service or value proposition has multiple benefits, and it’s important to define which to lead with, and how to verbalise them.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is Option Set ChangeWhen you define the options that you compare yourself to, you change the value you have. Comparing a book with a group of cheap books will make it seem expensive and premium. Comparing it to a group of expensive technical manuals, it will seem cheap by comparison. Or, in products with multiple features, you can define which features to include and which to leave out to make your product seem better.
At the stage of stating specific claims or potential, you define who you claim to be, or the benefits you claim to have. By defining what you claim to achieve, you define the space you are in, and the people that come to you. For example, being known for having the fastest product in a space will attract people that care about speed. Being known for having the product with the most features in the space will, instead, attract people that want the most features. And so on. Your claims define the people that came to you.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is the framework of The First, The Best, The OnlyAny person, product, service or value proposition will be in a league of its own if it’s the first, the best or the only in a space. For example, in terms of sales coaching, if you are the first sales coach, the best sales coach, or the only sales coach in an area, you will have an edge over others. Therefore, you can change the space you are in until you are one of these three.
At the stage of tailoring the offer to the person, you want to make it seem like your value proposition is perfect to the person. There are various levels of granularity in a recommendation (you can recommend something for everyone, for a specific group of people, or for a specific person), and the recommendation can be true – the value proposition may be, in fact, specific – or it may be false, where the value proposition is generic, and just seems to be specific for a person.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait are JustificationsJustifications occur when you are recommending or suggesting something, and you justify it with a reason. There are various levels of justifications (you can justify something as being good “in general”, as being good for a specific group of people, such as all people with the same age in the same area, or as being good for this specific person), and they all work. To different degrees.
3) The Basics of Negotiating
The process of negotiating can usually be broken down into:
- Defining what you are willing to accept;
- Dealing with the person’s emotional and logical arguments;
- Finalising a proposal for both sides;
At the stage of defining what you are willing to accept, you want to define the specific terms you are willing to accept. Be it in terms of number ranges, or clauses that must be included, or other elements that you must have. These define the “bare minimum” you are willing to accept.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is AnchoringWhen you define a number range, the other side will most likely focus on the bottom end of that range. Therefore, you can change the ranges of numbers to guide the other side to pick the option you wish for. In terms of salary negotiations, for example, the other side will always pick the bottom you will accept, so change the minimum to be closer to the number you truly want.
At the stage of dealing with both logical and emotional arguments, you want to be able to persist, in a polite manner, but without giving up, while facing multiple arguments from the other side, and overcoming them.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is using PresencePresence, in itself, is a framework with multiple elements. But, in this case, it’s useful to be able to not crack under pressure, if the other side tries to use intimidation techniques, to maintain the tension using elements such as intense eye contact, and so on. This makes you not cave, due to tension, when the other side turns up the pressure.
At the final stage, of finalising a proposal, you want to reach a conclusion that leaves both sides satisfied (or as least unsatisfied as possible). After the back-and-forth has been concluded, each side should achieve the key points they desired, while the other points are open for negotiation.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is Future Lock-InThis technique consists of giving a small advantage, in the present, in return for a long commitment in the future. We have a tendency to only care about our present situation, and not our future. The temporary advantage seems good in the moment, but soon vanishes. Imagine buying a car. “Buy now, start paying 3 months from now”. Seems great in the present, but in the long-run, it’s useless, and helps get the person to buy.
4) The Basics of Fundraising
The process of fundraising can usually be broken down into:
- Identifying potential investor leads;
- Making the first contact and presenting your company/fund;
- Presenting more granular information;
- Negotiating the allocation;
At the stage where you are identifying potential leads, you are effectively doing lead generation efforts, for investors in specific. Finding investment funds, and possibly specific investors within them, that target your type of company or fund.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is SpecialisationSpecialisation is simply being focus in one sector or activity. Someone specialised will always be seen as a better fit than someone generic. In this case, you’re not even leveraging your specialisation, but the investors’ specialisation, by targeting only the ones that invest, in specific, in companies or funds like yours.
At the stage of making the first contact and presenting, you want to reach out to these investors with your pitch. You want to sell your value proposition, in a short and summarised manner, show fit with them, and simply request an exploratory meeting.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is the Recency-Primacy EffectThis effect dictates that people remember the beginning and ending of something. Therefore, by starting strong and ending strong in your pitch, you increase the chances an investor will pay attention. For example, saying, “Dear X, we are seeking an allocation of $100M with expected returns of 7%”. Then you mention the details, then close by saying again, “This is why we are seeking an allocation of $100M, with expected returns of 7%”.
At the stage of presenting more granular information, you are probably already in contact with the investor, and providing information – possibly, in a dedicated virtual room for this specific investor. At this point, you will have to share information about your company or fund, your processes, your team, and more. And you can determine to what degree you share negative information, and how transparent you are.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is Adverse TransparencyAdverse transparency consists of sharing negative details, that you did not need to, in order to reinforce your credibility and trustworthiness. This is useful in these cases, as the investor expects full transparency and trustworthiness. They will not give up on an investment due to a flaw, but they will give up on one if they think hey cannot trust you.
At the allocation negotiation stage, you already have some sort of offer, and you are simply negotiating the details. Regardless of whether you’re a startup negotiation a simple term sheet with a VC, or a borrower negotiating a completely custom deal with a private lender, money is not everything that matters, and many clauses can make a worthwhile investment a nightmare, from key-person clauses, to MFN clauses, and many others.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is Giving with a sacrificeGiving, in this case, is conceding something to show the other side that you esteem and respect them. When you give with effort or sacrifice, you are telling the other side how much this costs you, and they value it more. A good practice is to take some items that you would not care about anyway, and pretend to be actively giving them, to extract something in return. This way, you can get something in return for sacrifices you were making anyway.
5) The Basics of Charisma/Presence
The process of being charismatic, and/or having presence can be broken down into:
- Being able to hold tension/intensity;
- Having a unique vision/standing out;
- Taking initiative and doing more than others;
- Having value, in the way that you behave and react to the actions of others;
In terms of the trait of holding tension and intensity, you want to be able to maintain your composure in the face of someone else who is intimidating, and even put a little bit of pressure yourself. It’s about being willing to take risks, and act as someone with value. Intense eye contact, silences, a serious tone, and so on.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is Tension itelfIn any interaction, there is a level of tension between two people, and the “weaker” one, the one with the least value, breaks the tension. You need to be able to not kill the tension, but instead wield it, and direct it at the other side. Let them kill the tension if they wish.
In terms of the trait of having a unique vision, you want to stand out and be unique. You want to differentiate yourself from everyone else, be it through the way you speak, the way you dress, your unique perspective on things, on any other element. Having a unique point of view and being dedicated to it is a major way to do this.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is VisionVision is having a unique perspective of what the future holds, of different possibilities, of the potential of something, and so on. I’s viewing what comes next in a different way from everybody else. It’s cultivated by both defining your unique view of the world, and then influencing others around you with it.
In terms of the trait of taking initiative and doing more, you want to constantly take action. Being known as someone who takes action makes you be considered more present, more dominant, more respected. This initiative doesn’t need to be in terms of stepping on someone else’s toes. It can just be in terms of doing more, proposing more things, having more ideas and doing more.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is Initiative itselfWhen you take more action than others, you are considered more present, charismatic and respected. There is no single way to do this. It’s about taking action in different ways. Speaking with more people, having more ideas, taking more initiative at work, going the extra mile, doing more things for others, proposing more conversation topics, and so on. Just having more energy, and demonstrating it.
In terms of the trait of having value, you want to behave in a way that communicates evolutionary value. That is, that you are someone desired, that your time is valuable, that you can hold tension, and that you are comfortable regardless of what happens.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is Rigidity, as a personIn terms of showing value, showing that your time is valuable, as a person, is a great way to show value. That is, not being available for everyone in every occasion, but instead having very specific conditions in terms of what you can do, and for what. This makes you seem valued, and your time scarce.
6) The Basics of Presenting
The process of presenting can usually be broken down into:
- Having acceptable body language;
- Being able to synthesize and summarise key points;
- Being able to illustrate with stories or suggestions;
- Standing out (with strong opening/ending statements, or others);
In terms of the trait of having acceptable body language, you don’t need to do too much – being comfortable and harmonious works. Simple hand gestures, open body language, not being too nervous or fidgeting. Letting things “flow”.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is HarmonyIn terms of presence, harmony means that you are at peace with yourself. You accept everything, you’re not resisting things, and, due to that, you are unassailable. There is no discomfort or nervousness.
In terms of the trait of synthesising and summarizing information, you want to be able to tell people the key points without going into too much detail. Applying the right level of abstraction. Some people will want the summarised version, while others will want to dive into the details, and you have to satisfy all types of recipients.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is The Layer ConveyorThis technique consists of breaking down information into layers, based on its depth. All information on Layer 1 takes about 1 minute (elevator pitch), all information on Layer 2 takes about 5 minutes (more extended), and so on, until Layers 5, 6, or however deep you need to go. Then, you simply present Layer 1 and ask, “Is this enough?”. If not, you go to Layer 2. And so on.
In terms of the trait of being able to illustrate with stories or suggestions, you want to anchor the person to “real” scenarios and examples, instead of just mentioning theory. Talking about future potentials, possibilities, conjectures, speculating and other types of techniques can help transform theory into reality.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is The Dickens PatternThe Dickens Pattern is a storytelling pattern that consists of illustrating a “dream future” and a “nightmare future”, based on everything the person most wants/most hates, and then making it seem like this choice, right now, will define which of the two futures they embrace.
In terms of the trait of simply standing out, you want to create impact. This can be achieved with physical traits, such as your clothing or accent, rhythm, timing, or others.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is the Peak-End EffectYou “start strong” and “end strong”, with a simple statement, since this is what people remember the most in a presentation or interaction. For example, opening with, “Today, I will demonstrate why this project can achieve 30% additional returns”, and you end by repeating, “As I presented, this I why I think this project can achieve 30% returns”.
7) The Basics of Conflict Resolution
The process of resolving a conflict can usually be broken down into:
- Diagnosing the conflict and rules broken;
- Being able to reestablish contact and dialogue;
- Seeking a coordinated solution that’s acceptable for everyone;
- Avoiding the usual traps that make conflicts worse;
At the conflict diagnostic stage, you wan to figure out why a conflict is present, and of what type it is. That is, why does someone feel hurt/insulted/offended, and what type of dynamic do we have between the people in a conflict?
💡 A technique recommended for this trait are Personal BoundariesDrawing boundaries means actively stopping – or removing yourself from – a situation that is not accepted. In this case, it’s useful to figure out who drew a boundary, and why. That is, what personal rule, that someone has, was broken, and by whom. Diagnosing the root of the problem.
At the reestablishing contact and dialogue stage, you want to mediate and create a bridge with the people in the conflict, to recreated the bridge between the people who suspended communication/collaboration due to the conflict.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait are Compliments and FlatteryIf the two people in the conflict can say something positive about each other, and find something to admire, they can create a bridge. They don’t need to like each other, just show respect. Compliments and flattery are very effective techniques, because they work even when the other side knows they are being flattered on purpose!
At the stage of seeking a solution, you want to find a common path forward. That is, you want to make both sides think of a common solution, a common way forward, that is acceptable to both sides.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is Implementation IntentionThis technique is a persuasion superpower, and works as well here as in many other use cases. It consists of getting the other side to focus on the details of how to achieve something. How to work together, how to move past this, etc. For example, saying “Tell me what it would take to get past this”, or “Tell me what would be needed to work together again”.
All the while, avoiding the usual traps simply consists of you not disrespecting the other side, ignoring them, or underestimating them in some way, making them feel inferior or not esteemed.
💡 A technique recommended for this trait is using a Personal TouchIn many situations where you can say something via email or phone call, showing up in person, or using another form of being personal, such as writing something by hand, shows the other side that you are personally involved in this, and you are not underestimating it, which will not make them feel ignored or underestimated.