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SALES SKILLS - Persuasion and Influence

If you're going to prosper in the coming years, your sales team needs customers, prospects, vendors, and peers to say "yes" more often than "no." Getting to "yes" requires a substantial degree of persuasion and influence skills. Contrary to popular belief, persuasion and influence take much more than just a ready smile, a big handshake, and an outgoing personality.

Robert Cialdini published a book in 1993 called, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which discusses, investigates, and proves how influence works. This book is a must-read for your entire revenue team in sales, marketing, or general business development.

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These are the six influence skills:

  1. Reciprocity - This is the same idea as the Golden Rule. Treat people like you would like to be treated. More specifically, you get what (or if) you give. It is a deeply ingrained human predisposition to repay in kind when we receive a gift. For example, if a salesperson shares an ebook with a prospective customer, then that person is inclined to return the favor. At the very least, they will say "thank you." It is likely they will agree to a meeting as a means of reciprocating.
  2. Liking - You have a greater chance of influencing people if they like you. We like people similar to ourselves. Tactics to increase your likability are praising and pointing out similarities. Always be authentic in your praise. Use imagery and language that resonates with their target audience to demonstrate that you understand their business.
  3. Social Proof - Testimonials are an excellent way to demonstrate this one. For example, suppose your target audience is made up of operations managers at injection molding companies. In that case, they are likely to put more stock in a testimonial by another operations manager in a similar industry. Using social media influencers with credibility in a specific niche to endorse your product or service is a way to use social proof to your advantage.
  4. Authority - People viewed as experts can persuade and influence because of their perceived expertise. A salesperson could apply this principle by promoting an internal subject matter expert or establishing himself as an authority on solving a problem common amongst his audience.
  5. Consistency - The idea behind the principle of consistency is that people will want to remain consistent with their stated or written opinions, values, or commitments. If you want to influence your customers, prospects, colleagues, subordinates, or your boss, getting them to state a position out loud is a powerful form of persuasion. It is even more powerful to get them to write it down and share it with other colleagues.
  6. Scarcity - It is human nature to want what one cannot have or want more when we can only have less. If your sales team has unique expertise, or access to a recognized expert, you have a scarce offering. Use that scarcity to your advantage in your sales pitch. An exclusive and limited offer is more compelling than a discounted offer.

Those are the six types of persuasion guaranteed to increase your influence. These are not new. In fact, these principles have been documented and discussed as far back as the ancient days of the Greeks and Romans. Salespeople will close more deals when they learn how to be better influencers.

Keep the principles in mind as you train your team. The last and most important point about the 6 principles is to apply them with authenticity. There's nothing any of us dislike more than to feel manipulated. Be genuine as you deploy these six principles of persuasion.

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