How to Use the Power of Persuasion to Sell

You might not feel like a negotiator, but the truth is you negotiate every day. You negotiate with your son about how many cookies he can have before dinner. You negotiate with your clients about when a project will be done. You negotiate with your boss about how much money you’ll make this year. You negotiate with your wife about whose turn it is to fold the laundry. And, of course, you negotiate with your potential customers.

Whether you’re negotiating for your large firm or your non-profit organization, these shared experiences are an entry point for empathizing with others, and especially our counterparts.

First and foremost, it’s critical to understand and apply the fundamental principles of negotiation that ring true whether you’re trying to get someone home safe, or just trying to find the words a customer needs to hear.

Don’t feel their pain, label it

You know what you want from a negotiation, but what does your counterpart want? Why is what they want so important to them? Empathy is a fundamental part of persuasion; you can’t effectively sell if you can’t relate. Now, you don't need to agree with someone in order to empathize with them.

Take the ongoing debate over what to charge for music, for example. On one side, you have musicians who rightfully expect to be paid for the time and energy it takes to put together an album. On the other side, you have listeners who believe that music should be free for everyone to enjoy.

You likely have an opinion one way or the other, but it doesn’t mean you can’t empathize with both sides.

Beware yes, Say no

Persistence is often the key to sales and marketing success. Research suggests it takes six to eight touches to even qualify a lead. Don’t consider “no” or even the absence of a response, which might lead to a failure on your part. Instead, consider it the start of the negotiation.

KeySmart, the compact solution to your bulky key ring, understands this principle well.

No can make people feel safe when negotiating, like they’re in the driver’s seat. This is especially true when their counterpart is pushing for a “yes”. It’s easy to get defensive.

The silver lining to triggering a ‘no’ is that you’re sure to learn something—’no’ usually provides insight into objections and hesitations. A ‘no’ draws a line in the sand and defines desires more clearly. Don’t be afraid of saying no.

Trigger the two words that immediately transform any negotiation

The two most powerful words in any negotiation are “that’s right.” If you can get your counterpart to use those two words, you’ve transformed the conversation. Hearing “that’s right” is even better than hearing “yes.”

Why? That positive regard opens the proverbial door to changing thoughts and actions. The more your counterpart feels understood, the more likely it is they will take your desired action. That’s a win for you.

Be a mirror

When you’re acting as a mirror, you allow your counterpart to see themselves in you. You don’t let pushing your own agenda take precedence over understanding your audience—when negotiating or persuading, your focus should be on the other person. What are they telling you about who they are and what they want?

This technique is called mirroring, which can also be done with voice of customer copy. If you can repeat common words and phrases back to your visitors—if you can mirror their pain and how they describe your products—you win.

Give your counterpart control

You might be familiar with what’s known as the IKEA effect. Basically, we assign a high value to things we partially create. So, that $40 IKEA table is worth more to us after we’ve struggled through assembling it, because we’re left with a feeling of satisfaction that we put it together ourselves.

Similarly, if your counterpart arrives at a solution on their own, it is more impactful than if you had overtly pushed them to arrive there.

You can use questions and options to gently point your counterpart towards the solution you have in mind. Asking for help puts your counterpart in the driver’s seat. When you encourage your counterpart to make decisions and give opinions, you inspire action. If you structure your questions and options carefully, that action can be in your favor.

The question is no longer, “Do you want a standing desk?”, it’s, “What do you want your standing desk to look and feel like?” It changes the conversation.

Bend their perspective

An approaching deadline adds urgency to the negotiation process. Items near the checkout at a grocery store are the common example.

Urgency, even when as subtle and self-induced as the above, is effective. In an original research study, CXL Institute found that adding “Free next business day delivery if you order before 4 PM (UK)” to their client’s product pages increased revenue by 27.1%.

There’s no need to be aggressive—even a gentle nudge that reminds buyers a decision now reaps benefits now can be effective.

The reason the right kind of urgency works so well is because people would rather avoid a loss than realize a gain—it’s more important to not lose than it is to win. This is known as loss aversion, a cognitive bias.

When you show customers they will miss out on a significant discount or lose out on free next business day delivery if they wait too long, you trigger loss aversion and remind them that a decision made today can secure them a deal that won’t be available tomorrow.

There’s a real possibility that your counterpart will act, not necessarily because they want your product right away, but because they want it eventually and don’t want to lose the opportunity to snag a deal.

Humor and humanity guarantee execution

Demonstrating your humanity and humor is an excellent way to break the ice and build rapport.

A lot of factors play into flawless execution, but demonstrating your humanity and humor is an excellent way to break the ice and build rapport.