Today everyone sells; not just outside the organisation but within it as well. The ability to persuade and influence is part of everyone’s job. Whether you are selling, negotiating, marketing, advertising, coaching, leading, managing or speaking in public, you are persuading others to accept your ideas. Selling is the preeminent skill.

You sell yourself everyday: your skills, your confidence, your personality, your warmth, your likeability, your competence.

Whether you’re making a sales presentation, running for office, asking someone for a date, befriending a VIP, chairing a meeting, asking your boss for a promotion – whether you’re a trainer, a manager, an author on a TV talk show, outcompeting everyone else for that job or out to make yourself a leader in your chosen field – whatever you’re doing, the skills of persuasion are critical.

You are always engaged in selling and it makes sense to have the clearest possible understanding of what the process is about. If you know exactly what you are aiming for, the words tend to take care of themselves.

How do you persuade people to act?

The objective of all influence and all selling skills is to get the other person to act, to go ahead, to accept our idea. But how do we achieve this?

Action is the result of motivation. Consequently, any sales process should be motivational. However, be careful you don’t confuse this with manipulation, which is hopelessly ineffective. To avoid misunderstanding, let’s define them both:

Manipulation is getting people to do what WE want. Motivation is getting people to do what THEY want.

No one is interested in what we want, they are interested in what they want. The two steps in a motivational, action-producing presentation therefore are:

  • Find out what the customer wants.
  • Match your product/service/idea to that.

That’s it – that’s the simple but potent key to successful selling. Selling can be described simply as helping people to get what they want. Can you recall the last time you made an important purchase, perhaps a car, a computer, a holiday or some new clothes? You had a requirement, and when you found what you wanted, you felt motivated to buy. Matching builds desire.

Find out and match is the fundamental psychology of persuasion. It always applies, whatever the situation: Highlight it in your sales and leadership training.

Examples of selling in the workplace

A speaker on the podium must know what the audience is interested in and match the presentation to that.

Modern leadership thinking stresses the importance of matching the individual’s personal goals to the goals of the organisation. How do you motivate an individual in your team? Find out what they want to achieve and match the task you have to that.

The golden rule of coaching is ‘they speak first’. In any people situation we should always begin by uncovering the other person’s thoughts and concerns. Then it becomes clearer what input and guidance are required from us.

When someone has a complaint, find out what they are unhappy about and ask, ‘What would you like us to do about it?’

These examples all reinforce the concept of find out and match. To influence anyone, the core skill is: find out what’s important to them, their hot button, and then match to it.

Find out and match is a strong reminder that questions, not reasons, form our main persuasive skill. In order to find out, we have to start by asking questions and listening carefully.

Good selling is a diagnostic process. This is one of the reasons why accountants and engineers can become skilled sellers. They are used to asking diagnostic questions.

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