Persuasion Success: Finish Strong

In previous posts, I revealed the formula for persuasion success, suggested ways in which to engage your persuasion target, offered ideas about how to explore the persuasion situation and then frame the options for best persuasion results.

As a reminder, here is the formula: Yes = E2F3.

1. Engage your target.
2. Explore the situation.
3. Frame the options.
4. Finesse the rough spots.
5. Finalize the decision.

Now, we’ll explore the last of the three “F” components, and the final step in the persuasion equation: Finalize the decision.

Ask For Your Target’s Opinion

Do not ask for a commitment. Opinions are nonthreatening: Everyone has them, and most people want to share them.

Simply say, “What do you think?

When You Hear Yes

If you receive a positive response (“I really like the ‘Best’ option you’ve created”), move boldly forward. Finalize and formalize the decision: “Perfect! I’ll have the purchase order on your desk by the end of the day.”

Then consider yours a persuasion success story.

If You Receive a Neutral Response

When your target says, “I’m still not sure,” don’t try right away to secure your “yes.” You have more work to do. Instead, say something along the lines of: “I understand completely. Here’s what I’m going to recommend. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no. Let’s just make sure we’re clear about what we’re talking about and willing to consider it further. Fair enough?”

What reasonable person wouldn’t say “yes” to that? Most will. And guess what? That’s called a nudge.

Ask your target why he or she isn’t sure and what would lead to greater confidence. Is information missing? Would your target like to see additional people backing your persuasion position? Does a formal plan need to be presented?

When You Hear a Flat-Out No

Employ your options: “Okay, if you don’t want to go with the training program for the entire North American distribution channel, perhaps we should just focus on retailers and the field sales force. Or, if you prefer, only the field sales force. Which of those options would you suggest?”

Employ the persuasion equation the next time you need buy-in on a major decision. When formed, framed and finessed, I like your chances of hearing “yes.”

Do You Know the ‘Principle of Nudge’?

Persuasion is built on a series of small agreements, rather than one colossal, ear-shattering, cosmic “YES!!”

People often can be most effectively persuaded when shepherded along gently, not yanked through the streets. A great example comes not from a shepherd, but from my sister-in-law’s Goldendoodle, Lucky.

During one family gathering at my sister-in-law’s home, Lucky was particularly affectionate. He kept rubbing against me, looking for attention, which I happily gave him. After a few minutes, I realized I was no longer in the living room, but in the kitchen. When I mentioned my surprise at the change of venue, my sister-in-law, replied matter-of-factly, “He does that all the time. He brought you out here; this is where we keep his treats.”

Ah, the Principle of Nudge.

How might nudge work for you? Let’s say your persuasion priority is to convince your VP of marketing to allocate dollars and responsibility to you for a new product training initiative. Here’s an example of the series of small agreements you can elicit from your target:

  • “Yes, we can meet to talk about your idea.”
  • “Yes, I can provide information.”
  • “Yes, I can help brainstorm options.”
  • “Yes, I can talk to others in my circle to test the idea.”
  • “Yes, we can run some numbers.”
  • “Yes, we can pitch the board.”

Each yes slowly nudges your target toward the big one: “Yes, I’ll green-light the project.”

In most cases, you wouldn’t walk into your VP’s office and demand money and power (unless you have an absolutely monster credibility and track record, and even then I wouldn’t recommend it).

That’s like asking a person to marry you on the first date. You can, but it doesn’t make for good policy.