Paul lays out three tips on persuading your prospects and customers.
Analogy is a very effective tool in selling:
- Lay out the broader concept that you’re selling
- Identify how the buyer already uses this concept in business
- Show the linkage within your solution
Change is more likely to happen when that change emanates from within. Lead the buyer in a way that helps them self-discover their needs and the solution to those needs.
Invoke the law of reciprocity. Offer complimentary products, services, demos, even lunch. The customer may feel the need to reciprocate.
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How can I be more persuasive?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about persuasion. Recently in a training seminar, a live event (which it’s great to get back to those), a salesperson asked me, “Hey, what are your top three tips on how to be more persuasive with your prospects and your customers?” So that is what we’re going to address on today’s show.
Now, before we get into that, a quick reminder, pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times and Value-Added Selling. Both of these books are filled with pages and pages of tips and ideas on how to be more persuasive. Whether it’s in good times, whether you’re facing supply shortages, whether you’re facing tough times, whatever it may be, both of these resources are available to help you be more persuasive with your customers and prospects. You can pick them up wherever you get your books: Amazon, Chapters, Barnes & Noble, you name it, you can find the book, there. Bulk orders, actually, you can reach out to us directly, or you can also go to Porchlight. Porchlight also has some great deals, actually, for buying in bulk. So check that out as well.
So let’s get back to that question: How can I be more persuasive? I’m going to share three tips with you today. There are plenty more. We could fill up, you know, several episodes on how to be more persuasive, but I’m going to stick with three today: using analogy, invoking self-discovery, and also reciprocity.
The first tool we’re going to talk about is analogy. Using analogy—finding parallels, metaphors, whatever you want to call it—using analogy is very persuasive. So let’s talk about what an analogy really is. So, you look at the definition of analogy. It’s really a comparison between two things based on the structure. That’s what we’re what we’re talking about. When I think of analogy and I think of sales, I always think about, Tommy Boy: “You know, you can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking your head up a bull’s…”. Well, you know, the rest of it. You know how the analogy goes and you know how Tommy Boy butchers it several times throughout that movie. So, that’s what we’re talking about.
Analogies have always been powerful in sales. So let’s talk about why. So we make decisions based on precedent. Your customers and prospects, they make decisions based on precedent. They’re going to look at the decision that they’re making right now, and they’re going to say, “Okay, how is this similar to other decisions that I’ve made already?” Now, in Value-Added Selling, we talk about using analogy as a really a three-step process. Number one, you want to identify the broader concept that you’re selling. Then you want to identify how the buyer already uses this concept within their business. And then you show the linkage with your solution.
In a more practical sense, I want to expand on analogy just to help people grasp an idea and a concept. So here’s the practical example. Several years ago, I got a call from an association. They train veterinarian doctors. The director of this association was reaching out to me because they wanted to help veterinarian doctors sell healthcare-type packages to pet owners—basically, you know, included dental packages, preventative healthcare measures, things like that.
And I had to stop the director. I said, “Okay, let’s be real here. Are people really going to buy dental packages for their family dog? Are they really going to buy healthcare packages for their dog?” And I just wasn’t sold on the idea. I thought to myself, ‘There’s no way. Why would someone spend money on this?’
And the director asked me, “Do you have a family dog?”
And I said, “No, no, I don’t have a family dog. I’m not a big dog person or a cat person. I don’t have one.”
He said, “Well, you just don’t get it.” He said, “You’ve got to remember that for 90% of pet owners, they view the dog as part of the family, or the cat as part of the family.” And many of you listening to this, you have a family dog, or a pet, you relate to that. You agree that, hey, the dog is part of the family.
So, then the director used an analogy. He said, “Paul, do you have children?”
I said, “Yeah, I’ve got children.”
And he said, “People will take care of their dogs the same way you would take care of your children. You take your children to the doctor; you take them to the dentist. You do all those things.”
I said, “Yeah.”
And he goes, “Remember, for most people, the dog is part of the family, so they’re going to treat that dog the same way they would treat their children.”
That director used an analogy to help me understand. And once he did that, it became clear to me. It became clear that, yes, the dog is part of the family, just like a child. So you would take care of the dog the same way you would take care of a child. That’s an example of using an analogy to help draw connection.
I’m going to share a couple other ones specific now, and this is recently in a training seminar. I was working with a group of salespeople who are selling capital equipment. And what they were doing is they were trying to convince their executives that they’re selling to, to make an investment in new equipment, even though the future seems a little uncertain, and they’re a little wary about investing in this uncertain time. Here’s what the salesperson did. The salesperson drew an analogy to the stock market. And the salesperson said, “Look, I know there’s a lot of uncertainty right now and what the future is going to look like, but let’s use this as a buying opportunity. You know, anytime there is uncertainty, that’s when you can make money in the stock market. Think about it. When stocks go down, when the future is uncertain, when the market goes down, that is the time to invest. Wouldn’t it make sense to take that same logic and apply it to what we’re experiencing right now?”
And what that salesperson did is they drew an analogy between investing in your business and investing in the stock market, and they used uncertainty as that common thread. So, analogy is very powerful because, again, we make decisions based on precedent as a way to help ease decision making. So, all you need to do is show the connection between what you’re selling, use an analogy to draw a parallel. There you go. You’re going to help convince that buyer.
The second tip. Let’s talk about self-discovery. Change is more likely to happen when that change emanates from within. And the best way to do that is to take your ideas and sort of implant them in your prospect’s mind, or to lead your prospect in a way that helps them self-discover some of their needs and how to solve the problem. You know, when think about this for my previous sales career, selling innovative fastening systems, engineered strut systems, things like that. It was a very much a conceptual type of sale. And I remember we had this one innovative strut system that helped replace welded structural steel. So not to get too deep into the weeds on it—just think about an adult tinker-toy set. That’s what I was selling. And I remember that this adult tinker-toy set it had—and speaking of analogy, that’s an analogy, by the way, that I just used to the tinker toy set. Okay. I completely derailed there, but let’s get back on track.
So I’m selling this tinker-toy set. And I would go in and meet with customers and I would showcase to them what the product could do. I would showcase to the customer how the product actually worked. I needed to show them and just say, “Hey, here’s a strut system. I just want to show you how this works.” And I would do a quick demonstration, but I wouldn’t tell them how to use it. That’s the key. I didn’t tell them how to use it. I asked them this question: “What do you think is the best way to use this product on your job site?” Or “How would you use this?”
And once I gave them the question, I gave them the freedom, they would say things like, “Well, we could use it to replace this.” “We could use it to replace that.” Now it became their own idea. And I knew what they were going to say, but I didn’t tell them. Instead, I asked them. That’s part of self-discovery. It’s helping your customers and prospects discover solutions and uncover their needs on their own. And by asking good questions, you can invoke that self-discovery. So look for those opportunities to self-discover. If you’re selling a conceptual type of product or service, or you have all these benefits, or you’ve got all these problems you can solve, don’t just tell your customers how to use it. Get them to share with you how they plan to use it. That’s going to invoke that self-discovery.
And the final thing, and this is nothing that we’ve created here. It’s just an observation. And actually, I thought about this from reading Robert Cialdini’s book on influence, it’s called Influence and I highly recommend it—it’s a must read. It’s a perennial bestseller. If you don’t have it in your library, get it, study it, read it. It’s wonderful. In his book, he talks about the law of reciprocity. And basically, when people do things for us, we feel compelled to repay them.
Think about this—. Recently, I went out and I played some golf with some buddies. Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch. One of the guys paid for lunch. He paid for lunch. And as soon as he paid for lunch, obviously I expressed gratitude, but the first thought in my mind was ‘How can I repay this person? How can I make it up to them? How can I even it out?’ Because now, I owed him something because he paid for lunch. Think about that. I felt compelled. Actually, I felt uneasy until I could figure out a way to pay him back. That’s the law of reciprocity. When we do something for someone, they do feel a sense of reciprocity. They need to pay us back. And so finally, I couldn’t rest comfortably until I figured out a way to pay this person back. I was able to pay him back with a round of drinks later that evening. All is great in the world again. I felt better. That uneasy feeling went away.
So let’s think about how this relates to sales. When you’re working with a prospect or customer, it’s important to invoke that law of reciprocity. And how you can do that is by offering some additional insights. If you have complimentary products or services that you can use to help create value, bring them on board. Incorporate those tools into your presentation—complimentary samples or product demonstrations, complimentary trials. And I’m being careful here not to use the word free, but using complimentary trials, things like that, that can invoke that law of reciprocity. Also, entertainment. Taking our customers out to lunch. Doing lunch-and-learns for their entire team, acts of kindness. These are all things that can tap into that need to reciprocate any favors or any good things that we do for our customers and prospects.
So again, using analogy is going to be critical. Invoking self-discovery and using the law of reciprocity will help you become more persuasive.
Make it a big day.