If you want to sell your product, you have to persuade people to buy it.
Bringing others around to your way of thinking is an art going back as far as Adam and Eve. The serpent's persuading Eve to taste the apple perhaps wasn't the best use of the art, but we can learn plenty from the tale.
Persuasion is much more than putting a positive spin on things. Sometimes the reverse-psychology approach is more powerful. (Think teenagers!) Perhaps you need to demonstrate a negative result to sway opinion. Sometimes, actions speak louder than words.
To bring others around to your way of thinking or to some specific action, you must be able to articulate your position so that others can see the advantage of following your plan -- what's in it for them.
Anyone involved in negotiation and persuasion knows that they aren't the same. Negotiating means we both get some of what we want. You're satisfied with your deal, and I'm satisfied with what I got. That's the desired result.
But persuasion means you get what I want, and you thank me for giving it to you. That's a better result for both of us because I'm not asking you to give anything up, just to get a different, and more advantageous, result.
Benjamin Franklin was a master persuader. His methods required patience and endurance. He assumed people are won over slowly, often indirectly. Here are five of his bargaining strategies:
•Be clear, in your own mind, exactly what you are seeking.
•Do your homework, so that you're fully prepared to discuss every aspect and respond to every question and comment.
•Be persistent. Don't expect to "win" the first time. Your first job is just to start the other person thinking.
•Make friends with the person with whom you are negotiating. Put your proposal in terms of his or her needs, advantages and benefits.
•Keep a sense of humor.
I would add one more bit of advice: Be honest and aboveboard. As Aristotle said: "Character may almost be called the most effective means of communication." Getting caught in a lie will persuade others, all right -- persuade them to do the polar opposite of what you're asking.
The great political orators brought about positive societal change with their persuasive powers because they were passionate about their beliefs and presented their cases in such a manner that no one could misunderstand their message.
At an international conference, I saw a business-training exercise that illustrated how persuasion can produce a desired result. The leader drew an imaginary line on the floor, and put one person on each side. Then she told each to persuade the other to cross the line to come over to his side. Players from the United States almost never convinced one another, but their Japanese counterparts simply said, "If you'll cross the line, so will I." They traded places -- and won!
Mackay's Moral: To get others to see things your way, you must look through their eyes.