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This Persuasion Matters free newsletter provides valuable insights helping you hear “Yes!” more often.

Mark Rodgers’s Ideas for Hearing “Yes!” More Often

  1. 13A biotech marketing director asked, “Mark, how do I get my team on board with a program I don’t believe in?”My immediate – slightly sarcastic, mental response: These aren’t magic methods.My actual response: You can’t.Your external actions and internal thoughts must be in alignment. I call this state: congruency. Not to get all “west coast woo-woo” on you, but mental conflict can be felt by those you’re attempting to persuade.The fundamental persuasion heuristic is this: If you want to be convincing, you have to be convinced.
  2. If you can’t give your target three solid reasons why the idea you’re suggesting is the best way to go – and I mean right now – then you should stop checking Facebook and do the intellectual lifting to figure out the value proposition of your suggestion.
  3. This will help with the previous point. We all know it’s important to focus on what matters to the other person. Here are six words that force you to stay focused on them: What this means to you is …
  4. Want to get more people to say, “Yes!” to you more often? Dress better. A study analyzing people’s inclination to follow a jaywalker dangerously crossing traffic proved very interesting. Dressed in coveralls and work boots, no one followed the lawbreaker. The same person dressed in a three piece suit had people following him like a drum major in a marching band.Some experts suggest you should dress ten percent better than the person you want to persuade. I’m not sure how you would quantify that sort of sartorial precision, but I do know you should look the best you can. When you dress well, are pressed and clean and you’re your shoes are shined, people will follow your lead.
  5. Persuasion success is best improved by understanding this notion: It’s what you do before you do, that does it. This refers to preparation but more importantly to your target’s previous experiences with you or your suggestion. When you see your request (or “ask”) as a series of experiences – a process – rather than an event, you’ll hear “yes” more often.
  6. Be assertive but not aggressive. Assertive people are admired and live to persuade again, and again. Aggressive people are told, “We like your passion.” which is corporate-speak for, “We think you’ve lost your mind!”How can you be assertive, but not aggressive?Take two shots, then salute. When you have an idea you’re trying to get buy in for, use appropriate strategies and tactics to best increase your chances. If you get turned down, have another run at it. If you get turned down again, salute and move on. You’ll be seen as ambitious, yet reasonable (You can always resurface this idea at another more propitious time).If you hold on to your position like a hoarder clenches a 1983 People Magazine, you’re going to start to hear your co-workers say, “We like your passion.”
  7. We often have it all wrong. When trying to get someone on board with our idea, we tell them what’s in it for them if they go along with our thinking. Rather, if you want to dramatically increase the likelihood you’ll hear “yes” we should tell them what will happen if they don’t. Not in a threat, but framed as a loss.Studies have shown, time and time again, that we are driven much more strongly by the threat of losing something, than gaining something. So talk about forfeiting market share, sacrificing sales, or surrendering an opportunity. When you do, you’ll hear “yes” more often.

Not What You Thinkfalling-money

A number of years ago, my wife Amy and I were in the market for a new television. We went to a store that shall remain nameless (big box with yellow sign) where we selected a new TV.

Amy looked on encouragingly as a blue-shirted employee and I wrestled the monstrous set onto a large industrial cart. We suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a gaggle of salespeople, who apparently just received stealth training. The leader then began touting extended service plan benefits to protect our purchase. The newcomers nodded in unison donning the appearance of service plan backup singers.

Now we know and believe in the value of service contracts. We’ve helped Harley-Davidson Financial Services increase service contract sales for years. We always buy them for our Harley-Davidson motorcycles and often get them for our cars, computers, and iStuff.

Additionally you should know, I treat interactions with salespeople as persuasion research, and I approach the task with the zeal of an archeologist on the verge of discovering the Ark of the Covenant.

“I thought I just selected a fantastic TV. Why would I need a service plan?” I innocently inquired. The leader of the blue shirts stammered something about how the TV is not a divine creation, and that man made things break. Another added an almost Stallone-like “Yeah.”

Then I hit them with objection after objection. Finally, as I watched the team sputter, struggle and shift back and forth trying to find answers they didn’t know, I quickly revealed my background.

“Guys, I help show people how to sell extended service plans for a living.”

It was as if I had suddenly flipped on a light switch, and the cockroaches scrambled. Almost immediately, Amy and I found ourselves alone with that gigantic TV. Have you heard the expression, “No man is an island?” Not true! It was just Amy, me and that big TV!

Compare that exchange with one we had just days later shopping a different retailer for a portable DVD player. After selecting the player we wanted, the young salesperson brought up the extended service plan. You could almost hear Amy’s eyes rolling as she knew what was coming next.

With the confidence of Babe Ruth in a T-ball game, I began my research. “I thought we just purchased a great DVD player,” I began, using my familiar refrain. “Why would we need an extended service plan?”

Again using objection after objection, building up to my big reveal: “Young man,” I said in my best pontificating Homer Simpson-like voice, “I show people how to sell extended service plans for a living.”

Without missing a beat, he exclaimed, “Perfect! Then you’re going to want the four-year plan!”

We bought the four-year plan.

Why?

He believed in what he was selling. To be convincing, you have to be convinced.