Action beats airy-fairy promises.
Do you want commitment or an illegitimate, nice-to-have maybe?
Business or life is a simple game of action. Those who can get others to take action take home all the benefits. Those who haven’t learned to persuade beat their head against the wall wondering why and blaming it all on luck.
Persuasion requires zero luck and very little skill. Anyone, even you, can do it. I didn’t start out learning how to persuade. I stumbled across the only rule of persuasion:
“Help the person you’re persuading get a disproportionate amount of the benefits.”
When you offer up more value than you take away it’s much easier to persuade a person to take action.
I have been forced to learn persuasion after working in sales for sixteen years of my life. I started out cold calling strangers, then working in different call centers, and then getting a job as a salesperson selling to other enterprise businesses. Persuasion was always a dark art to me. I wasn’t really shown and as a result I sucked at it. Now I can persuade, the honest way.
Don’t let the word persuasion confuse you either. Persuasion just means getting people to take action.
Turning umming and ahhing doubters, into doers, creates a powerful change in your life. Here’s how.
People are just buying you.
You can’t persuade a person unless they want to buy you first. Get people to buy into you. How? Show them who you are. Get them to see how you view the world. Inspire them with your experiences.
Show your human side through a personal story
Before I ever attempt to persuade somebody to take action I lead with a personal story wrapped in vulnerability. If it’s a work situation then I might mention my colleague who got the dreaded global sickness and nearly died, and share how that felt.
If it’s a new writer I’ve just met then I might share how lame I feel writing on the internet and dealing with the many pitfalls of online blogging that rarely get spoken about. Or if it’s someone who has lost their job and I’m trying to persuade them to keep going then I share my unemployment story from last year.
Wearing your heart on your sleeve is honesty.
And honesty gets people to take action.
Always mention someone they know.
One skill I have mastered is to make a cold conversation warm, instantly. How?
The easiest way to persuade someone is to mention someone they know. The best is an introduction to the person you want help from. If you don’t have that option then mentioning people you know in common works too.
Drill this into your head: never send an email designed to persuade without mentioning a person they know.
You could share the same mentor, as an example, or like the same musician. Make it genuine and drop real human names.
Reference current events.
We are all linked by world events. I always mention current events in any conversation I have that requires persuasion to bring a person to the same level as me. As an example, we can all relate to the current global health crisis — mention it as part of the warm-up to the ‘ask.’
Deliver a concise ask.
In order to persuade someone you need to know what one action you want them to take. The simpler you make the ask the easier it is to get a yes.
Think clearly about what your ask is before attempting to persuade anyone. Knowing your end goal helps you drive the conversation.
One ‘ask’ at a time.
Batching together multiple asks equals failure.
Ask for one thing and get a yes. Complete the ask and then move to the next ask. People have to get comfortable with you before you can keep asking them to do stuff and succeed.
Ask and then shhhhh.
Quiet people are incredible.
Say your ask and then be quiet. Continuing to talk after you have delivered the ask (close) will not get a person to take action. I say this because when I learned to persuade in my first job, the person training me would tell me to deliver the ask, and then he would tape my mouth shut. I remember talking to an elderly gentleman once and having him sit there for fifteen-minutes while he thought about the ask and I listened to his breathing like a serial killer.
He eventually said yes and bought my product. That’s the power of silence when you’re trying to persuade someone to take action. We keep talking when we’re nervous about persuading.
Quietness is the antidote to the fear of asking.
Crush the excuses.
Excuses are everywhere when you attempt to persuade. If you think people are legitimate with their excuses then try this:
Next year, get on a plane and fly to Florida. Drive to Manalapan. Ring the doorbell and tell the homeowner you’re there to deliver a bunch of excuses about why you can’t get what you want in life. Have them open the gates. Walk up the driveway, past the Range Rover. Knock on the door.
Have a family member let you in. Walk outside to the pool that faces the ocean. Walk over to the chair where a giant awaits you. Say “Hi Tony, I’m here to give you the reasons why I can’t get what I want.” Have the giant ask you to sit down. Tell Tony your excuses. Watch him bust your excuses to pieces.
Tony Robbins became a master persuader not when he learned how to sell, but when he learned how to get people to see their own excuses that stop them from getting the life they want. You can try and give him your excuses all day long. He will find a way around all of your excuses. You can learn this superpower, too.
Excuses are either procrastination or a tactic designed to get rid of you.
Only you get to decide whether you leave the room without getting what you asked for. Being unreasonable enough to back yourself and believe in the value you have to offer is incredible.
Let the pitch marinate.
Not all persuasion works in the moment.
Sometimes you’ve got to let your pitch marinate, especially if it’s a huge ask. Delivering the step you want someone to take and then coming back in 48-hours is hugely effective. Big asks made on the spot can look like shark tactics designed to take advantage of someone if you go about it the wrong way.
Real persuasion is in the follow-up.
It would be nice if you persuade, then ask, and then get a yes. It rarely works like that. If life was that simple we’d all be driving Lambos and working from the beach with a laptop.
The hidden secret of persuasion is follow-up. You have to ask several times to get someone to take action. People are busy. People don’t always hold all of the decision-making power. People are overwhelmed by a never-ending inbox of asks, too.
If you can be patient and follow-up, you’ll increase the number of yes’ you get.
Most people never follow-up, or only follow up once. By following up two times or more, you put yourself in the top 5% of people who use their persuasion skills to help people take action.
Rejection is the start, not the end.
When you ask you will get a lot of rejection. I think of rejection as the first step. I expect to be rejected the first time I ask for anything. It’s easier to say no or maybe later than to say yes. The odds are against you.
See rejection as part of the persuasion process and you won’t let it hold you back.
Find the unwritten rules. What is not been spoken?
Author, Alex Banyan, calls this the Third Door.
I call it the unwritten rules. People use rules to say no to you. I look for the unwritten rules. I try and ask the same question different ways to get around the roadblock.
“If you were me, what would you do?”
“Am I missing something here?”
“Who should I talk to that can help?”
“Could you could me on how to get around this problem?”
“There has to be a way around this problem.”
It takes a lot of listening to master this technique. Show the person you seek to persuade that you’re not the type who gives up easily by asking for the invisible options.
Order from the menu of options nobody bothered to ask about.
Every situation is an opportunity to practice.
Persuasion takes practice. The good news is you are asking people in your life to do stuff every day. Practice with them. Get better at asking people to take action by putting their needs ahead of your own.
Problem: There Is a Dark Side to Persuasion
Don’t be the Wolf of Wall Street. There is a dark side to persuading and it’s called lying.
Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street, taught this way of persuading in the 90s. He became famous for lying and learned a harsh lesson followed by jail time as a result. He took persuasion too far by seeing how he could manipulate people rather than persuade people. He broke rule #1: “Help the person you’re persuading get a disproportionate amount of the benefits.”
When you get good at persuading the temptation is to join the dark side. Don’t do it. Once you ruin your reputation through manipulation, you’ll struggle to ever get it back again. Honest people make the world better, not liars.
If an 80-year-old can do it…
Then you can too. Helen Cassidy Page persuaded me that I was lazy through her writing. She is eighty-something, going on twenty-one. She persuades us that age is a number and a stupid one at that. You can persuade at any age you want and you don’t have to be a salesperson.
If a 17-year old can do it…
Flynn is 17-years-old and persuades people to buy online services. He quit school to become a persuader. And he’s leaving Steve Jobs for dead. By the time he’s a grandpa like me in my 30s, he’s going to be building rocket ships that fly to Mars. In the meantime, watch this kid persuade. Send him a message and watch him go.
If a shy guy can do it…
Michael Thompson says he’s an introverted, shy guy with a speech impediment. Yet he persuades people to take action every day and hasn’t worked a 9–5 job for a very long time.
You don’t need to be an overconfident, knockout entrepreneur, Instagram-worthy model, to persuade people to do anything. You can hide behind a keyboard and inspire people to change their lives without ever showing your face.
Your personality traits don’t determine whether you can persuade.
Personality tests are a joke that makes a few niche companies a lot of money. Let Michael’s story expose the lie of personality traits.
Life is one giant sales pitch.
Learn how to persuade the honest way and you’ll get people to take action that benefits them and you. Getting people to take action is a life mastery skill.
Action is what builds companies. Action is what makes dreams become real. Action is what drives people to say “I love you.” Action is what solves problems like a global health crisis. Action is what brings joy and fulfillment to your life.
Get people to take action by showing them who you are, delivering a concise ask, being quiet, following up, and believing you’re worthy of getting a yes.
Those who believe in themselves persuade effortlessly.