I'll always remember the first sales course I ever attended and the definition of selling that was drummed into my brain.
"Selling is the art of creating a desire in the mind of a buyer and satisfying that desire so that buyer and seller benefit."
Now that may seem a bit old fashioned for many of today's salespeople, but I believe the principle still holds true particularly if we're attempting to persuade another person be it a member of our team, a colleague or a customer. If you're going to persuade someone to change their behavior, their viewpoint, their attitude, any other aspect of their business or personal life, then you're talking about changing a mindset.
If anyone is going to change their mindset then they need to envisage benefits for them that outweigh their present circumstances or situation. If you're the person doing the persuading, then you need the following skills, qualities and characteristics which make you believable and credible.
Belief - Successful persuaders believe in themselves and what they're talking about. After all, if you don't believe in what you're saying, how do you expect anyone else to?
Enthusiasm - I've known people who totally believe in what they're saying but fail to communicate with any enthusiasm or passion. British people in particular, find difficulty with this; however, if you want to persuade someone, you'd better find a way to get enthusiastic about it.
Knowledge - you must know what you're talking about, so make sure you have all the information, facts, figures and statistics to make your case.
Empathy - Put yourself in the other person's shoes. What do you think is important to them? Consider carefully why they should accept what you're saying. If someone is frightened of flying, then there's no point in telling them not to be silly and to stop behaving like a baby. You need to think about how you might feel in these circumstances and what might persuade you to change your mind; you need to outweigh the fear with benefits relevant to the individual.
Persistence - if you want to persuade someone, don't give up on the first "no" or rejection of what you say. Persist and persist - but do it nicely! People won't necessarily react in a negative way to your persistence when they realize you really believe what you're saying. There's a fine line between being persistent and being a nuisance. Watch the other person's reactions and if it looks like you're persisting too much - stop!
Energy- put energy into all your interactions with other people. Energy fuels enthusiasm; we are persuaded by people with energy. Many TV presenters use their energy to sell us their ideas. Think of the celebrity chefs on TV persuading us to produce fabulous meals or other presenters who get us all excited about remodeling our homes or gardens.
Consistency - Everything you do or say is important, everything counts. If you want to be a powerful persuader then you must be consistent. If you're trying to persuade someone to keep their promises, then you must always keep yours. If you say - "I'll phone you back in ten minutes" then phone them back in nine minutes.
To be a powerful persuader you need many skills, qualities and characteristics. Even with them all in place, there is still no guarantee of success. However, people are more likely to be persuaded by people they trust, they like and have a good relationship with.