How to Persuade People to Action

One of my favourite books by Malcolm Gladwell is “The Tipping Point”. In a nutshell it illustrates how seemingly little events can spark such a huge outcome. To put in visual terms think about how internet memes are created or viral marketing campaigns are executed.

Perhaps the most outstanding piece I took from the book was the discussion of three personalities: Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.

Connectors: Possess a strong network of people, excel at ‘connecting’ with people and building relationships.

Mavens: From the Hebrew word ‘mavin’ are trusted experts in a particular field, accumulate a vast array of knowledge.

Salesmen: Persuasive people, go-getters, determined to persuade people to action e.g making a pledge or a donation.

A lot of times we are too concerned about belonging to the latter group; salesmen. There’s increased pressure on our shoulders to meet targets either from our superior managers or the demands that we face in life. In trying to negotiate a deal we want to close the deal as soon as possible so that we meet our monthly quotas. Or even trying to get a new job we’re not actively understanding the needs of the hiring company. Often times this leads to a lot of frustration both for us and our prospects.

It is imperative that we understand the importance of not just being salesmen in the figurative sense but also connectors and mavens. Here are a few points I believe will make us better persuaders in our daily lives:

  1. By connecting with people we’re not only racking up the number of people in our immediate or external ‘social’ network. We’re truly trying to engage with them, we’re listening to their problems and observing their involuntary and voluntary actions. The question at the back or our minds should be “How can I add value to this person?”
  2. Establish an area of expertise. Of course this takes time, somewhere between 5 to 10 years of experience. The importance of this however isn't just acquiring the knowledge but asking ourselves how we can solve also solve problems. What solutions are we able to provide other people with this knowledge?
  3. Another aspect of becoming a maven is clearly understanding our prospects’ issues. How well do we emphasize with their pain? Do we take time to research on them? Are we observing and taking notes of the issues that matter most to them? There’s nothing worse than offering people ‘our solution’ when we haven’t clarified ‘their needs’.

Becoming better persuasive people requires us to painstakingly take time to listen to our prospects and understand their pain points instead of just trying to force them to action. By constantly acquiring expert knowledge in our respective fields, applying our knowledge to providing solutions and building deeper relationships with people we can gain the trust of our prospects and hopefully make that sale.