Mastering the Art of Persuasion in Consulting

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Author : Wendy Howard
Published: May 30, 2012

The art of persuasion is used in the workplace for everything from getting someone to buy into ideas, complete their work satisfactorily and on time, or to increase sales by persuading someone to buy from you.

Though there is a plethora of connotations and uses for persuasion, it's crucial for consultants to master this skill to survive their job. Whether it is in order to convince your clients or team mates of your ideas, or to sell yourself, as a consultant, you will need to know the following seven most efficient techniques for mastering the art of persuasion:

Technique 1: Teach by Example

Become a model for the behaviour to which you want others to adapt. Others will pick up subconsciously how you want them to behave.

Technique 2: Praise the Desired Behaviour

Give credit where it’s due. People love to feel appreciated and part of the team. Drawing attention to the behaviour you want to see displayed by others in the team means that it is much more likely they follow suit.

Technique 3: Cascade What Works

If you have a great sales person on your team who delivers by results, ethically, ask that person to share with the team what works, what doesn’t, and what they can learn from their own sales situations.

Technique 4: Mentoring & Pairing

It is similar to the above technique but taking it a notch further. Pairing up sales in situations where people learn techniques from others is a great way of mentoring the best behaviours. Sit in, watch, listen and learn. Make sure you have a meeting afterwards [built] around [the idea of] ‘what did you learn?’

Technique 5: Build Trust

There’s nothing worse than not knowing where you stand or how the other person is going to react, or even if they are likely to make changes that will unsettle someone else. Be consistent. Keep the person(s) involved in any changes. Listen to what they have to say. Keep the communication lines open at all times.

Technique 6: Energy Awareness

Be aware of the energy and commitment of your team. If you are not enthusiastic, they won’t be either. Keep that energy high!

Technique 7: Mistakes are Opportunities

This is a great one and it’s to use any mistakes as an opportunity to learn. NEVER use a mistake to make someone feel small, to humiliate them, isolate them or indeed to make you look bigger than you actually are. Always own up to any mistakes you make too, and make sure your team learns from them as well.

In summary

All research, whether its psychology, the cognitive sciences and behavioural economics has shown that emotion infuses everything we do. This includes our thinking and decision-making.

Therefore to master the art of persuasion well, you must be able to reach people on an emotional level to be able to activate change. Also, being able to understand, recognise and manage your own emotional state is critical for success.

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