When people hear “sales” they think of a fat dude in a used car lot with a mustache, cigar, and gold chains trying to sell them a rust bucket car.
But … sales is just persuasion.
And everything in life requires you to sell yourself or an idea to win or get access to great opportunities. So it’s a skill you want to learn. I’m obsessed with sales and persuasion.
Since I was 21 I’ve worked in the field and kept a massive database of tips and tactics.
Here’s the greatest persuasion manifesto you’re likely ever to find (featuring many of my mentors). Use it to get an unfair advantage in life.
Saving your way to wealth takes 30–40 years. Selling your way to wealth takes 3–4 years — Lawrence King
Volunteer to point out the downsides right from the start
What makes salespeople sound slick is when they try to paint their world as perfect. Like everything they offer is amazing.
Many people don’t know that 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss used to work in sales at a dead-end IT company.
His office was basically the broom closet.
He was a sh*t kicker worse than Milton from the movie “Office Space.” Tim had to cold-call people and sell them IT solutions.
To get their attention he’d start off with what their technology was terrible at, instead of saying “I know exactly how we can help” or “we’re the best in the industry.”
The downsides of an idea or solution speak the truth. So speak them first.
This is what I want to do. This is what would benefit me. This is what would benefit you. These are my risks. These are your risks. I think we both end up better off. Whaddya think? (source)
The hardest part about persuasion
It used to be my job to persuade Silicon Valley tech companies to set up in Australia.
It wasn’t easy because there were so many countries they could expand to. Our desert island full of snakes and kangaroos often wasn’t their first choice. I quickly learned the prospects weren’t the hardest part.
It was accepting the B.S. excuses I told myself about why they’d say no, which often led me to give up on potential prospects.
When you believe, they believe.
I learned to back myself and convince myself that Australia really was the best move for them. Later in my career I got way more yeses cause of this.
Logic is the worst way to persuade
Non-persuasive people try to win you over with features and benefits. In my banking days as a salesperson this would never work.
I had the worst product and the oldest tech stack. There was no way I could beat a competitor like Stripe. So I stopped fighting.
I learned emotion drives action.
The best way to convey emotion is through stories. I’d tell those I needed to persuade stories from my life or career.
I’d talk about a near-miss with cancer, or funding a school for unprivileged children, or what it was like to walk away from a successful startup.
This got their attention so they listened to my pitch. They’d often buy from me and not know why. I later found out it was because they felt something. A feeling they couldn’t describe.
Persuade with real emotion through stories. Sell the feeling not the result.
Being “better” is stupid
It’s easy to think if your idea is better you’ll win people over.
You won’t. It’s damn hard to be better. The easiest way to persuade is by being different. Let me give you an example.
My online academy sells to writers/creators. This marketplace is saturated. So all we did was rebel and say that we don’t offer writing courses. No. We offer actionable writing strategies you can implement today that make you a magnet for opportunities.
We proactively diss people who sell information because now we sell implementation and know people don’t need more information they can google. They need immediate action led by a practitioner.
Now we’re in a league of our own.
Be different instead of better.
Stop trying to sell to people (Yuck!)
No one wants to be sold to. Read that again.
The easiest way to persuade people is just to help them instead of trying to sell to them. Easy.
The more you say the less you persuade
Some people don’t know when to shut the hell up.
They just talk, talk, talk. The lovers of politics are the worst. They’ve chosen the right or the left and are completely brainwashed. All they can talk about is their side of the hell-on-earth that is politics.
Revelation: People persuade themselves.
So get out of their way and let people talk so they can convince themselves. Then gently guide them with smart questions. If all you do is talk, people won’t feel like they’re being listened to.
When we don’t feel heard our unconscious response is to say no or ghost.
Study people not solutions
I used to walk into meeting rooms with big swinging d*cks.
These pinstripe gentlemen would swing their manhood so aggressively across the room, they’d knock bystanders over. Too much ego.
My fellow salespeople thought these big knobs wanted to hear about our solutions. So they’d stay up late the night before studying the best option and learning about how our product got results.
I did none of this. I was a banking and an IT dummy.
I went home and studied the LinkedIn profile of the person we were trying to persuade. I focused on who we knew in common. Then I’d ring those mutual connections and get a story about the prospect.
I’d then drop a name and tell a short story the mutual connection told me. I’d get instant rapport. The prospect would become putty in my hand, then listen to anything I wanted to sell them.
Mutual connections are more persuasive than the best product in the world. Talk to prospects in the voice of a mutual connection. Bang!
Better yet, get a warm introduction to a prospect from a mutual connection.
If there’s no next step, it’s a no
Most persuasion doesn’t get finalized on the spot.
A “no” lets you move on. A no means a decision is made which is your main job as a student of the persuasion manifesto.
Do not leave the site of a pitch without next steps. Even better, get the prospect to suggest what next steps should look like.
Let people solve their own problems
Through the course of a persuasive pitch you may hit a roadblock. This is the time when you ask the prospect “what do you suggest we do?”
Why? Because when a prospect does the talking, they’ll more likely act on their own advice than yours.
Higher prices are more persuasive
If you’re selling a product/service/solution it’s easy to discount. Or only charge $20.
I’ve found low prices are a red flag. They insinuate what you offer is low value because the sticker price says so. Recently, I sold a $10,000 per person product. I thought it’d be hard to sell. Nope.
I had a few people complain that the same offering was $20,000 or more with others. A few people didn’t buy because I didn’t charge enough.
Still, it was easier to sell people a $10,000 product than it was a $20 product. And higher-end clients ask fewer questions and take action faster.
Direct messages can persuade (but many people miss this step)
Persuasion often happens via social media direct messages nowadays.
No problemo. I get pitched hundreds of times a day … and I never respond to most of them. Why?
I take a look at the social media bio of the person, check out their pinned tweet, and read how they help people. If they have no social proof (5 followers) or their content sucks, then it’s unlikely they can help me.
If you want to persuade you need to build some social proof online. Build a small audience of 3000 followers. Write a clear bio. Get some testimonials. Publish some high-quality ideas you’ve thought about and researched.
Otherwise, your cold DMs will never get answered & you won’t know why.
Without sounding cocky, I get replies to 90% of my DMs. Why? Enormous social proof, a few pieces of viral content anyone can google, I get to the point, and I’m clear on my value.
Do the work online to make persuasion easier.
Remember: People read bios not DMs.
With a good enough reputation, you don’t sell them. They sell you — Alex Hormozi
Know the exact reasons people buy an idea/product
Science tells us why people buy (hat-tilt to my bro Jon Brosio):
• Attain better hygiene
• Make more money
• Save more money
• Get more comfort
• Gain more praise
• Feel more loved
• Increase status
• Escape pain
• Avoid effort
• Save time
Focus on one of these outcomes if you’re trying to convince anyone of anything. Works for online writers too.
The key to business persuasion isn’t obvious
Persuasion in your career is perhaps the most lucrative form of selling.
The mistake I used to make was thinking prospects in business buy the best solution. They don’t. They buy the best option that makes them look good in front of their bosses and colleagues.
Use a prospect’s self-interest to persuade them.
Do what you love but study psychology, marketing, and sales so you don’t become a starving artist — Dan Koe
Learn from people you’ve already persuaded
If you follow this persuasion manifesto, you’ll eventually persuade a few people to buy your idea or solution.
Here’s where people stuff it up. Once you have some success just do more of what worked. The way you find out is to survey people you’ve already persuaded. Asked them what you did well and what you could do less of.
Then take what you learn and do 10x more of the good stuff. That’s how you become a persuasion machine that gets everything they want in life.