So you want to become more persuasive and influence others.
Maybe you want to make more sales. Or you need to influence your boss, or employees. Or you need to get your clients to follow your advice.
The following 24 persuasive techniques will give you additional leverage and instantly amplify your ability to influence others.
These are in no order of importance. Pick and choose what works for you. Combine persuasive techniques and multiply their impact.
Let’s jump in…
1. Create an enemy
What do you stand against? It’s easier to bring people together who have a common enemy. Find the common enemy you can fight against together.
2. Ask more question
The person who asks questions controls the conversation.
Pause before speaking. Before responding.
After you think the person is done speaking, be quiet for a few more seconds and look curious. They’ll tell you more, often more important things, that you just asked about.
Some articles on questions:
- The Most Important Question You Can Ask Anyone
- Rapport Building Questions
- Important Questions To Ask When Selling
- The Best Sales Techniques: Ripping Apart The Worst Sales Presentation Ever
- The Question Game
3. Gain Rapport
You have to give trust to gain trust (See item 8)
Match and mirror the words a person uses, the way they speak, the way they move their body.
You want to be as much like the other person. People like people who are like their self. So work to be as much like them as possible.
4. Get small commitments first
Before you can put a ring on that finger you have to go on a date first. There are many steps in the process.
It’s possible to get anyone to do almost anything with enough time and patience.
You have to know your desired outcome and your starting point. Then, identify the steps along the way to the big commitment. Patience and persistence.
Think about the process you have in place. Work up to larger agreements from your prospects.
5. Your tone of voice
Speak with authority.
Speaking with an inflection up (called uptalk) indicates a lack of authority. It’s difficult to express this in writing but when you say a command with an up inflection it sound like a question.
“Give me the keys?” sounds different than, “Give me the keys!”
You don’t have to yell but you want to speak with confidence. And that means speaking with a down inflection at the end of command statements.
6. Dress the part
I fail at this frequently (but I can make up for it in many other ways). One way a con man can gain your trust is by appearance. A guy in a nice suit and tie appears more trustworthy and influential than a guy in ripped jeans, long hair, tattoos, and body piercing.
You may be expressing your individuality but it can hurt you more than help. Unless your customers are also pierced and tattooed.
7. Play hard to get
People want things that are hard to get. It’s called scarcity.
I don’t give out my cell phone number. I work by appointment.
Limit what you sell. Limit time or quantity available.
8. Give before you get
Reciprocity is the name of this technique. People feel compelled to give back when they’re given something of value.
However, be prepared for these 3 ways reciprocity will fail. It’s not a rule.
9. Have an outcome
What do you want to achieve with each step while influencing?
The more clearly you understand your outcomes and the steps along the path to reach them, the more likely you’ll actually achieve them.
10. Use Sensory Rich Language
You have 5 senses: See, hear, feel, taste, smell.
When describing what will happen, wrap your customer in a warm blanket of comfort. Give a verbal massage. What praise will people whisper to them after they buy? How good will they feel? Maybe a little tingle up the back? The sweet smell of success?
Chuck Palahniuk calls them “Though verbs.” Use them to become a better writer.
Victor Hugo said, “Lose your mind and come to your senses.” Remember that.
Use the senses to influence, not the mind.
11. Shut Up
This goes with item 2, ask more questions. Then you need to shut up.
Use pauses for effect. It shows confidence. Use silence for gentle pressure.
12. Make the other person feel great
Compliment them on their past successes. We all have a lifetime of mistakes haunting us. Remind them of their past successes.
In my book, Friction Free Sales and Marketing, I explain how giving a person confidence helps overcome their inertia, their fear of change. The more confident you can make someone feel about his ability to make a good decision, the better chances you have to persuade.
13. Use hypnotically enhanced descriptions
When speaking with someone, add elegant adjectives and adverbs. These are words that modify nouns and verbs.
Most words that end in -ly are adverbs. Quickly, easily, finally, shortly.
Adjectives modify nouns. The brightly colored, juice-filled strawberry caused my taste buds to become tap-dance in delight.
Use this along with #10, use sensory rich words, and you’ll be communicating in ways that are naturally hypnotic.
14. Learn another language
Okay, this will not be an instant way to become more persuasive. But learning another language, even if you’re not fluent, can help your ability to persuasively communicate.
I joke how I never understood English until I took college Spanish. Learning to represent verbs, time, and concepts in another language drove home how they impact the brain in my native language.
15. Tell a story
Use metaphors and stories to influence your customer. They’re like a Trojan horse. Stories and metaphors sneak your persuasive message past defensive barriers.
16. Be Agreeable
I don’t mean do anything the customer asks. I mean use language that doesn’t damage your message. There are a few sales words you want to avoid. One is the word, “but.”
Make an effort to replace the word “but” with the word “and.” The message will almost always be the same and you’ll keep the customer flowing along with you.
17. Avoid Negatives
Tell people what you want them to do, think, and feel.
Avoid negatives like: don’t, shouldn’t, can’t. If I say, “Don’t think of a purple turtle,” you can’t not think about it, if only for a flash.
Think about what goes through your customer’s mind they hear or read things like these:
- Don’t think about how much this costs now.
- You shouldn’t worry about what would happen if this fails…
Tell them what you want so you’re always planting the right messages in your customer’s mind.
18. Check Your State
If you’re feeling down, lacking confidence, or feel like you want to be somewhere else, you will have problems.
Check your state. Shake your body.
Your body reflects what’s going on inside your mind. Nervous? Eager? Concerned? It shows.
Sit up. Smile. Look up. Move around.
Change your physiology so you can feel good about what you’re going to say, or write.
19. Stop asking, “Why…?”
Most people like to ask the question, “Why?”
Why did you do this? Why does this happen? Etc.
It will give you reasons (not always logical) why someone made a decision. It can also create defensiveness. How many times have you been asked “Why?” by a toddler and were filled with joy? Exactly.
Don’t be like a toddler. Ask better questions. Like the next technique…
20. Ask process questions
Questions that start with “How…?” or “What…?” will get you better answers.
How did you make the decision to do X before?
How do you plan on choosing the next vendor?
How will you know when you have the right product/service for the solution?
What’s important to you after I get this solved?
What will this do for you?
Go back and read those with “Why” instead of “How” or “What.” How much better do they sound without the “Why…?”
21. Set the frame
When you have control of the frame, you’ve won over half the battle. The argument is on your turf. You set the rules of the game and have the home-field advantage.
“If you have to explain your authority, power, position, leverage, and advantage, you do not hold the stronger frame.” from Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
22. Tell them what to do
“A lot of people don’t want to make their own decisions. They’re too scared. It’s much easier to be told what to do.” – Marilyn Manson
Making decisions is difficult work. Confidently tell the person, “This is a good thing. I want you to sign this and get your started today.”
23. Change your customer’s state
If they’re in a bad mood, move them out. Match their state, agree with them, then help reframe the situation to bring them out.
Or, do something to get attention or cause confusion. I like to ask people, “How much fun are you having today?” instead of “how are you?” It’s different. It jiggles their brain and I can move them from there.
24. Use Conditioning
If you’ve heard of Pavlov getting dogs to salivate then you understand the basics of conditioning. It starts with this:
Reward desired behaviors.
When a customer answers your question, pay attention. Listen. Repeat it back. Say “thank you.”
When you give attention to a behavior, either criticism or praise, you reinforce that behavior.
Stop criticizing bad behavior. Acknowledging and rewarding the things you want others to do in your life and you’ll get more of it.
Influence others with these persuasive techniques
This is not an exhaustive list. There are hundreds of persuasive techniques at your disposal.
We can look at techniques all day. However, consider the strategy and principles behind them. The principle behind each technique is often more important. And will make your ability to influence others more enjoyable for you and the person you’re influencing.