In 2010, sales linguistics expert Steve W. Martin wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review titled “Persuasion Tactics of Effective Salespeople.” Martin wrote that the most persuasive salespeople “develop an uncanny ability to influence nonbelievers to trust them and convince complete strangers to follow their advice.”
Virtually all businesses rely on salesmanship in one form or another, but it is the business owner or salesperson who best understands the pillars of persuasive communication that accelerates their growth and stands out among peers. If you want to become a persuasion master and make your business more inviting to potential customers, begin by embracing these simple principles and techniques.
Make Your Product Seem Scarce and In-Demand
People are culturally and biologically attuned to scarce resources. Items that are scarce appear to be more valuable. Whether consciously or subconsciously, people recognize that scarce products or services have a higher opportunity cost.
Think about scarcity this way: Suppose you pass a vending machine in the mall. If you aren’t hungry, you probably ignore it; after all, there is probably a food court with 12 restaurants nearby. If you see that same vending machine in a small gas station in the middle of an empty Yukon road, you might decide to buy something because you’re not sure when food will be available again.
Aim to make your products or services appear in-demand. If the supply isn’t limited, creating the illusion of intense demand makes a product more appealing to potential customers psychologically. Most people like being part of the crowd, and they appreciate that demand from others is a tacit endorsement of product quality, especially if those other people are recognizable. This is sometimes referred to as the bandwagon effect or social proof technique.
Tap Into the Customer’s Emotions
In his article, Martin points out that good persuasion techniques make the other party internalize your message. This affects their emotions and creates an intuitive pull towards the persuader’s advice. This is why effective advertisements often show happy people who are smiling at each other. These ads suggest that families, lovers, friends or teammates appear to be more able to connect with each other because of the product or service being pitched.
Calmly Turn Objections Into Strengths
Every salesperson is going to face objections. Instead of acting dismissively to your customer’s concerns, acknowledge that their objections are valid but non-prohibitive. If possible, let them know how your products or services avoid or minimize the detrimental consequences associated with their worries.
Some salespeople lose their persuasive edge while handling customer objections because they use the same monochromatic response for each person. A better technique is to listen to the customers, understand and appreciate that they are speaking in a unique language, and let them know that you heard them by framing your response in a way that matches their voice.