How Do You Become Persuasive?

Selling in today’s environment is hard.

There is too much competition.

It’s hard to stand out.

Everyone is so price focused.

How do you differentiate yourself?  How do you become more persuasive?

Sales people often overlook their most important sales trait – their mouth.  Without language, you wouldn’t be able to express yourself, explain your points of view, share your ideas and express your passions & emotions to others.

Communication is the key to developing long lasting relationships and long lasting relationships are imperative to success in the sales world.  If that is true, it sure is worth exploring and studying more closely.

There are a number of fields of language that can help us gain a deeper understanding into communicating with one another.  Psycholinguistics is the study of how the mind acquires, uses and represents language.  Neurolinguistics is the study of how the brain structures process language.  Sociolinguistics is the study of language use in society and social networks.

“Sales linguistics” draws from these fields to help us understand how salespeople and their target customers use and interpret language during the sales process.

Steve W. Martin, Professor at the USC Marshall School of Business and author of numerous books, talks about persuasion tactics in his Harvard Business Review article “Persuasion Tactics of Effective Salespeople.”  Martin states that there are “three fundamental principles, drawn from sales linguistics.” 

We’ll get to those in a minute.  First, it’s important to understand that every customer and prospect has their own unique view of the world.  They speak their own language and it will be different than yours.  Understanding this is the first step.

Fundamental 1 – Understand that Customers Speak Unique Languages

Every person on earth speaks his or her own language.  This is based on each individual’s life experiences - where they grew up, parental views, social situations, economic upbringing, and the good and bad that happen in one’s life.  These examples shape your language and how you interpret information from others.

Businesses quite often craft a “one-size fits all” sales pitch.  This simply does not work.  Executives and sales people need to understand that customization of the sales message is so important based on the target prospect you’re talking to.

Fundamental 2 – Build Rapport through Communication

Salespeople love to talk, especially about themselves, their products & services, features and benefits. 

It is crucial to develop rapport and ultimately a relationship by asking really good questions, listening to the answers and really understanding what problems your prospects need solved. 

The old 80/20 rule applies here.  Listen 80% of the time while asking questions and talking, 20% of the time.  Unfortunately, these numbers are reversed in most sales interactions.

You must understand your prospect, their personality, their mental make-up, body language as well as what they’re saying.  Learn to read people and tune into what type of personality they have, because the more you can mirror that, the more successful you’ll become.

Fundamental 3 – Persuade People through Personal Connections

You must be able to tap into the emotions of your prospects and really understand what make them tick.  This comes into play from a business standpoint but also on a personal level.  How are you relating to your prospect?  Are you really getting to know them?  Are you making a personal connection, not as the sales person but as a human being? 

Great salespeople make prospects think decisions are made by themselves, when in reality, the salesperson lead them down the path.

It is important to understand the psychology behind selling of what really influences people’s decisions.  Salespeople that are able to master language and understand how to convey information to their prospect so that they can understand everything on their terms will have great long term success.

Greg McKinney is a respected sales leader and is nationally know as a speaker, sales coach and consultant.  He believes in helping others and serving the good of humanity.  His phenomenally popular website is a must see for all sales leaders, small business owners and sales professionals.

Sign up for Greg’s free blog at and follow Greg on Twitter @asksalescoach