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Persuasion: Getting what you want and what you need

3 min read


You just know that you can close that deal … if you could only figure out how to reach the right decision-maker. If this sounds all too familiar, now’s the time to get unstuck!

Think about it: We all persuade people in our everyday lives. In the business world, we persuade our clients, our employees, our customers and our counterparts to take action. We motivate and influence others to buy a product, negotiate a deal, hire an employee or make a decision. It’s clear: developing the skills to maximize your ability to persuade and influence in the workplace will put you ahead of the pack.

Want to get what you need? Follow these tips to harness your own powers of persuasion:

Use what you have: Witness Kim Kardashian. She’s made the most of, well, being a celebrity. Whether you’re a fan or not, it’s hard to disagree that she’s been able to captivate her customers. She understands what influences them.

Build rapport: Your company may be a fantastic place to work, but if potential employees aren’t aware of it, it doesn’t much matter. A few years ago, I was charged with putting management teams in place for a relatively new company across the nation — no mean feat. Having an established network of colleagues gave me almost instantaneous access to employee referrals. Because they knew me, I was able to persuade other quality managers to join the company.

It’s true: People like to work with someone they know and trust. That’s how many of us find jobs, get our next client or hire that new employee. You’ve heard the saying opportunity knocks. Will you be ready?

Consider the “a-ha” factor: I encourage my clients to leave some room in their overall plan for what I call the “a-ha” factor — something that will make potential clients sit up and say “This is who we need to help us get closer to winning in our marketplace.” That’s persuasion. At your next management meeting, break out the whiteboard and try a little brainstorming. Ask your team to describe three ways in which they were able to use persuasion skills in their daily work, either successfully or unsuccessfully. Next, ask for ideas on how they could change those results. You just might be surprised.

Who do you think tops the list of the world’s most influential people? I’ll give you a hint: Take a gander at Twitter, and you’ll find out more than you ever knew you needed. Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry present a Twitter tour de force with a collective 53 million followers. Marketers extraordinaire, these top influencers persuade us to follow their brand, generate loyalty and expand their sphere of influence.

In a world where who you know can be just as important as what you know, relationships are key.

Knowing a lot of people is valuable. Knowing where and how to tap into your network: Priceless.

Shannon Alter is president of Alter Consulting Group. She helps managers and companies succeed by developing skills they need to provide client solutions. Her book “Say It With Success: Foolproof Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills” is available at Alter Consulting Group.