BMJ Stone
EZG Manufacturing
Federated Insurance
Fraco USA, Inc.
Hohmann and Barnard, Inc.
Hydro Mobile, Inc.
iQ Power Tools
Kennison Forest Products, Inc.
Mortar Net Solutions
Non-Stop Scaffolding
Pullman Ermator
Tradesmen's Software, Inc.
June 19, 2002 11:46 AM CDT

Selling Your Ideas


Without even thinking about it, you try to persuade other people hundreds, or even thousands, of times each month. But just how effective are you when it comes to convincing people of the value of your ideas? Without even thinking about it, you try to persuade other people hundreds, or even thousands, of times each month. But just how effective are you when it comes to convincing people of the value of your ideas?

Whatever your job, persuasion is part and parcel of your daily life. Right now, you might be trying to persuade an employee to begin using a piece of new equipment. You might be trying to persuade a customer to buy something. Or you might be trying to persuade a worker to perform a task a certain way. Effective communicators understand a wide variety of simple persuasion techniques and practice them regularly. Here are a few techniques that you can use in your own work.

Appeal to Shared Values — When the people around you share common ideals or goals, demonstrate that your idea is the fastest, most effective way to achieve what you are all seeking. For example, a conversation starter might be, "We all want the same results hereŠ"

Share Enthusiasm — Speak enthusiastically about the idea you're suggesting and others may begin to take it to heart. Conversation starter: "I heard a very exciting idea today..."

Share Examples — Base your pitch on something another company has done successfully. The closer your idea is to one that's already been implemented, the more relevant it will seem to the people around you. Conversation starter: "Let me tell you what Bob's company is doing successfully..."

Share Information — Did you read something that sounds like your own idea? Copy or clip what you read and pass it to the people around you. Alternatively, jot your ideas down on paper and circulate these random musings. Supportive printed material can easily lend credibility to your own ideas. Conversation starter: "Wait until you read this terrific article I clipped for you..."

Talk to the Bottom Line — Demonstrate candidly how your approach will get you to a desired result quickly and efficiently. Conversation starter: "I think I know how to get top-notch results in record time..."

Hint — Want something done a certain way? Very casually, suggest your approach two or three times. Conversation starter: "Maybe you could try this out sometime soon..."

Analyze — Using analysis, the "thinking person's" tool of persuasion, you can show through deductive logic why your point of view is valid. Conversation starter: "If Project A turned out well, and John confirmed the results, we ought to be able to do the same thing ourselves..."

Try, Test and Sample — Encourage others to try out a new idea for a limited period of time without them having to make a long-term commitment. Conversation starter: "Why don't we just give it a shot for a week or two?"

Train — Want something done your way? Reinforce your expectations by instructing your workers, step by step. Conversation starter: "Let me show you how it's done..."

Ask for Reports — Invite your worker to ponder your suggestion, research it if necessary, and then get back to you within a certain period of time. Conversation starter: "Spend some time looking at this idea and get back to me..."

Ask for Advice — Note the result you'd like to obtain and invite the people around you to explain how to best go about it. Prompt other people with your own thoughts when discussion gets bogged down. Conversation starter: "Here's where I think we should be going. Now, how can we best get there?"

Ask for a Favor — Most people like to respond to a request for a favor. Ask for help in putting a new idea on the table and you may tap into the positive personal habits most people display. Conversation starter: "I'd really appreciate your help on this..."

Ask for a Quid Pro Quo — As you explain your idea, find out what you can do to help your co-worker with one of his ideas if he'll help you out now. Conversation starter: "What would it take for you to help me make this happen?"

Ask Questions — Ask a series of pointed questions to illuminate the value of your ideas and the importance of getting them done right away. Conversation starter: "What do you think would be the greatest benefit of this approach?"

Rate — Invite the people around you to enter into a discussion about the value of your idea by rating it on a scale of 1-to-10 or comparing it to other ideas they've tried out in the past. Conversation starter: "How does this compare to what we saw last month?"

Enlist a Third Person — If you anticipate resistance to a novel idea, ask mutually trusted friends or acquaintances to broach it with the people you're trying to convince. A third party may be perceived as more objective than you. Conversation starter: "I heard that Bob talked with you yesterday..."

Dictate — Here you simply use your authority to issue orders and command other people to follow your directions. This is usually the least effective method of persuasion. Conversation starter: "Here's what I want you to do..."

Persuasion is both art and science. When used skillfully, persuasive techniques are powerful tools of communication and productivity. When you're confident of your position, use one or more persuasion techniques to get your point across and motivate other people toward action. Your ability to mobilize others may end up bringing you results you never thought possible.

About the Author

Richard G. Ensman Jr. is a free-lance writer based in Rochester, N.Y.


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