Persuasion is a pretty basic human skill. Small children learn how to use persuasive techniques to achieve all sorts of benefits. They understand that parents need them to be pleasant, polite and friendly and for the small price of money, sweets or a toy they can benefit from a quiet life. Admittedly a lot of childhood persuasion verges on blackmail “Give me a sweet or I’ll have a tantrum” but the basic building blocks are there.
Persuasive techniques in business may be a little more sophisticated but they center on the same structure:
- what needs does the target have
- what features does our offering contain
- what is the overall benefit to the target
Whether you are considering the design of a web page, a mailing campaign or press advertising, the same rules apply; convince your target audience that you have listened to them and understood fully their needs. Design your offering to ensure that it has features that satisfy their needs and have a list of these features available but most of all be clear about the overall benefit that your target audience will feel when they use your service or product.
In his advertising, Mac Davenport, an Illinois lithographic printer focuses the headline and the large print on “We deliver full color quality…fast”. His full design to delivery service that takes the strain from the customer is detailed in the small print to demonstrate that his business provides features that meet the client’s every need from a printing facility.
Negotiation in the business world has become a science and an art form. Everything from how you prepare to what you wear has an influence on whether you will be more or less persuasive than your opposite number. You should expect that he or she will be well prepared and ruthless in his/her intention to get the best deal for her/his company.
Your preparation for a negotiation should include:
- Identify your goal – the real reason for the negotiation
- Knowing the facts and having proof available
- Agreeing (with your colleagues) your position and how much flexibility you are willing to demonstrate
- Know which elements can be traded – e.g. faster delivery for higher cost, more features for a longer timescale, lower cost for fewer features.
- Preparing outline contracts or agreement documents for signature
If possible, never negotiate when you are tired, always have a full stomach and an empty bladder and be comfortable. Start and finish the meeting with a handshake and an honest, friendly smile. Negotiations are seldom personal, they are a set-piece battle of the brains and you’ll always perform better if you keep that in mind. If you like or dislike your opponent, you should put those feelings aside for the duration of the negotiation as they can adversely affect your performance in the “bullring”.
Auto salesman, Jake Robertson always puts on his negotiating hat to “get into” the correct frame of mind; it helps him to be resolute.