Picture-Perfect Persuasion

YoursignLately I've come across a bunch of articles and posts on persuasion, or what Lyman Beecher called "Logic on Fire". 

The summer double-issue of Harvard Business Review was all about sales.  Darren over at Problogger just did a whole series on persuasion, and Copyblogger even dusted-off Aristotle's Rhetoric for our edification!

Cause marketing is no different from other professions: persuasion is important.  I often tell people that I work in persuasion like a painter works in oils.  Here are my tips for a picture-perfect pitch.

It's not about you.  Sometimes we're so focused on ourselves we forget that it's our listeners that actually decide just how persuasive we are.  Calling yourself "persuasive" doesn't make it so.  It's only true if your listeners tell you so.  Always remembering who's in charge will keep you focused on the needs, interests and expectations of your listeners.

Persuasion occurs through identification.  The more you can align your message with the needs, beliefs, attitudes and expectations of your listeners, the more likely it is they'll agree with you.  People buy from people with whom they can relate.

Persuasion is incremental.  It takes time.  People don't generally change their minds quickly or easily, so you need to be realistic about what you can accomplish with each interaction.  Set the building blocks of persuasion in place that will get you where you want to go, but build in lots of extra time too. 

Play your strongest card.  I tend to plug listeners into one of three groups: thinkers, feelers or deferrers.  No one belongs to just one group; people are always a combination of all three.  But one is usually dominant.  Thinkers are logical and like reasoned, thoughtful arguments.  Feelers respond to emotional appeals.  Deferrers respect the opinions of others.  Figure out the dominant trait of your listener and choose the appeals that fit best.

But don't overdue it.  Fundraisers tend to approach everyone as a "feeler" and overplay the emotion card.  Read this post to learn about the pitfalls of overusing emotion and balancing it with ethos and logos (yep, Aristotle again).

"People need more to be reminded than informed".  A favorite quote of mine from Dr. Samuel Johnson.  The right pitch is the right pitch forever.  You nailed it and you know it.  The prospect knows it too, but for whatever reason, he's not ready to buy.  The "informing" part of your job is done.  But the challenge of sticking with him and staying top of mind until you close the sale has just begun!