Of all the many skills necessary to be a successful salesperson, being persuasive is probably one of the most important. Convincing others is a part of your daily life, and whether you are trying to change someone’s mind or get them to buy your product, being able to effortlessly persuade people is essential to your success. It can be easy to oversimplify effective sales techniques, but in order to truly utilize this skill-set you must first learn that, persuasion isn't just about talking. The art of persuasion is a mindset of its own and to master this skill requires preparation, practice and persistence.
Persuasion is the craft of convincing. Inherently we all have the ability to convince others when needed, and all of us have experienced being persuaded by others at one time or another. Persuasion is an innate skill we learn throughout our lives and we use it all the time without even realizing it. However, our natural ability to convince doesn’t always cut it when it comes to developing effective sales techniques and skills. Persuading is an talent that requires preparation and training. Below are some steps you can follow to take your persuasion skills to the next level and nurture your extremely effective sales techniques.
1 - Knowledge
As a sales rep, you need to know detailed information about the company you work for and the products and services they offer. Before you even begin working on your sales pitch and persuasion tactic, learn as much as you can about what you're selling. The best way to improve your knowledge is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Ask your colleagues questions about the most common questions clients and prospects might ask. Study reports and product information sheets to become an expert on your product and unbeatable in your field. Mastering the specifics of your product will allow your confidence to shine through and leave longer lasting, better impressions on your clients.
2 - Writing
A big part of your effective sales techniques is done through your writing. Although many people don’t acknowledge the importance of this aspect, it is the foundation on which you’ll build your persuasive abilities and your confidence to sell. To begin, draw a list of characteristics and arguments that will help you make your point. Then, start writing a draft of what will eventually become your persuasion presentation. To avoid coming off as a corny commercial or over-practiced pitch, here are a few tips to help you write a stronger, more effective and ultimately and more convincing speech/presentation:
- Make your writing personal. Remember that your customers are people too, and will appreciate being approached as actual human beings rather than simply another tick off your quota count. You’re a salesperson and you’ve spent years building your social and communication skills. Use these skills to your advantage by adding personal touches to your writing and presentations that show your customers you are just as human and approachable as they are. Talk about yourself, your own experience and how you use the product or service you offer, while also leave ample space for them to ask questions.
Customize your writing to mirror your clients’ interests. Each customers is different and you have to make sure that your speech appeals specifically to them. In the modern age it’s worth it to check out the many Apps available that help you manage your client relationships. Use a CRM to make it effortless to fit your speech to your customer’s need and show that you have their best interest at heart. Or use Badger Maps, a lead generation and route optimization app, that allows you to keep real-time notes about client data anywhere on the road and make detailed "check-ins" after meetings or phone calls.
- Turn a bullet point presentation into a compelling story. Slideshow presentations can often be uninspiring and boring, but if you’ve ever seen a Ted Talk or one of Steve Jobs speeches, you know that this doesn’t always have to be the case. In his famous 2005 Commencement Speech at Stanford, which now has over 26 million views, Steve Jobs begins his speech with this simple intro: “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.” Drawing inspiration from Alex Haley, the well known American writer who once noted the best way to start a speech is “Let me tell you a story”, Jobs engages the audience with his storyteller-like approach. Everyone is much more interested in listening to a story than hearing a lecture or yet another drab sales pitch. Write your presentation as if you are telling a story, allowing you to capture the attention of your audience and put your effective sales techniques of persuasion into action.
3 - The art of Persuasion
Perhaps the most famous way to improve your persuasive strategy is to actively employ Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle as mentioned in his piece Rhetoric:
“Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself.”
Below are the three components of this triangle, and how to apply them specifically to your role as a salesperson:
- Ethos: credibility, reliability, authority
The first piece is called ethos, which is an appeal to the credibility of the presenter. As a salesperson, your knowledge and job title is your advantage over your customers. It is your job to know what products or services would be best for your customers. When creating a presentation, leave space to politely nod to your years of experience in the industry, your breadth of knowledge on the subject or your credentials. You are the professional in this field, and show your reliability through your extensive knowledge.
Example: A healthcare sales rep using ethos could include this line in their presentation: “The National Health Agency, which consists of hundreds of experts and doctors across the US, recommends using our product for a better and healthier dental hygiene.”
- Pathos: emotion, imagination, morals
The second rhetorical key is pathos, which accesses the audience’s emotions, hopes and imaginations. Tapping into an audience’s pathos can be one of the most effective and authentic ways of creating a connection. It is essential to emotionally connect with your customers so as to more effectively persuade and sell to them. Include metaphors, similes and passionate language to appeal to your customers and humanize yourself.
Example: A rep selling house insurance using pathos could say something like: “ Imagine the roof of your house is damaged by a storm. The rain is leaking inside your house and all of your belongings are getting destroyed. Think of all the memories those walls hold, and all the hard work you’ve spent making your house a home for you and your family. We at USA house insurance don’t want this to become your reality. With our house insurance, we cover you in the event of a natural disaster...”
- Logos: logic, reason, rationality
Logos appeals to your customers’ logic and rationale to be persuasive. It's the most straightforward persuasion technique that requires you to effectively choose data and statistics to support your argument. Your product information sheet will most likely contain most of the numbers and data. As a representative of the company you must not only have a good grasp of important stats, but also be able to use your own experience with the product as a testimony to make your point.
Example: A car manufacturer using logos may emphasize important facts about their car like: “Our electric car will save you a lot of money over time, in as little as a year. With the average price of $2.35/gallon the annual cost of gasoline for the average car is $1,400 per year. In contrast electricity is priced at 12 cents per kWh which drops down the cost of recharging our electric car to an average of only $540 per year to charge. Which means you would save $840 per year!”
Effective sales techniques, whether it be a written pitch or in person presentation, rely on a carefully crafted mixture of these three types of rhetoric. Use logos to give concrete numbers on the greatness of your product; pathos to emotionally connect to your audience; and ethos to show that you are a trustworthy and reliable source of information.
4 - Training
After you have created your written presentation and appropriately applied Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle, it’s time to practice practice practice. In order to master persuasion, you need to practice your delivery to ensure all the time you spent writing and building your effective sales techniques doesn’t go to waste. If you’ve worked in sales before you know that content is not enough on its own to convince customers. Your personality and charisma are just as -if not more- important as your content.
Listen to famous speeches to get inspiration, find your voice and work on your desired tone. Practice your speed and volume adding intonations and pauses to your speech in order to highlight key sentences. Like any magician before a show, you must practice over and over again. Train on your own and practice with your family members or colleagues to get feedback. Don’t forget to challenge yourself, debating your arguments and try to find answers so you’ll be able to overcome objections. With practice and preparation you’ll be able to clearly see the positive effects your presentation can have on your audience.
5 - Speech
As mentioned above, a major part of being effectively persuasive lies in your behavior and more specifically how you say things. When you finally get to the stage where you are ready to put your persuasion skills to use, keep the following tips in mind to make sure you are clearly communicating your ideas and message.
- Be Confident. Being persuasive is also about the way you behave. If you look and sound confident about what you are saying, people are more likely to believe you and in turn more likely to be persuaded by you.
- Breath. Avoid stress and ensure your delivery is on point while giving your speech by reminding yourself to keep calm and carry on your everyday breathing pattern.
- Take your time. Your words are valuable and your audience needs time to understand the entire message you are presenting. Don’t forget to take appropriate pauses and leave space for people to think and comprehend. If you are rushing because of the pressure and stress, pause, breath and restart at a slower pace.
- Avoid Filler Words. Have you ever counted the number of time you say “err”, “like” or “um” in one sentence? You might not notice it but you, like most other people, probably repeat these words throughout your speeches and presentations. It can negatively affect the effect of your message. Relax and make sure you don’t repeat these words too often to keep your presentation smooth.
- Walk and move. If you’re able to give your presentation standing up, make it more dynamic by utilizing your “stage”. An unchanging position is boring to watch, walk around and add gestures when transitioning to another argument. Moving not only adds dynamism to your presentation but can help structure your speech and gives it energy and life.
- Make eye contact. Looking your audience in the eyes shows them that you are willing to connect and will keep them focused. Exchange short looks with the entire crowd and remember not to gaze directly at a single person for too long, you don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable!
- Stay hydrated. Drinking water is important when talking to make sure your vocal cords can follow the rhythm of the delivery. It can be easy to get carried away with your presentation, but don’t forget to give your voice a rest and take a swig. This will also allow you to take a moment to collect your thoughts without missing a beat in your presentation.
Combining a convincing speech and a charismatic attitude are very effective sales techniques to convince your customers of your service or products’ greatness and necessity. Check out other effective sales techniques on our blog And for any questions or suggestions feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org