Connecting with your prospect is the first step toward a sale. The success of persuasion is to guide them to an action or decision. It is totally dependent on following an often misunderstood path. It can often be much like dating or creating a marketing sales funnel.
What does good persuasion look like…
I got an email last week from a woman who is dear friends with my disabled sister. She wanted help buying Sis a gift. Sis was born with cerebral palsy. My Sis will be 70 next month and is moving into an assisted living facility.
Of course I replied I’d be happy to help and gave her my cell phone number.
“I want to buy her a TV for her new apartment. She doesn’t have many things because she has lived with your mom and never had her own stuff.”
“That is really sweet of you Jan. Tell me more. What size and price are you thinking of?”
“I don’t want you to worry about the price. That’s not an issue. Big screen, quality picture, and good audio. She deserves this.”
We settled on a 55” tv as best for her space. Then I went shopping.
I went to my favorite big box store. They had lots of choices but it was really confusing to shop. Each brand had its own separate area to make an impressive presentation. However, it made comparing brands really tough.
Of course, they were having a sale. I looked at some models but while the salesperson, wearing his branded blue shirt was nice, I felt like I was missing something. I was confused and not sure of my decision.
So I did what prospects do when confused…Nothing.
As I was leaving, I remembered the local specialty store where I bought my last TV.
A young man dressed professionally in slacks, dress shirt, and tie, greeted me. I looked around while he finished with his client.
One of the things I noticed, the TVs were displayed not by brand, but by screen size. You could see different brands side by side.
The fellow was knowledgeable and professional. I noticed he listened to what I was looking for and the criteria and then educated me on similarities and differences.
The fellow didn’t rush. He didn’t get interrupted by a ringing telephone.
And he told me July is the best month to buy a TV because that’s when manufacturers test Christmas pricing. They sell discounted to their retailers and the retailers’ test prices.
He showed me the big box store’s ad on the same model I was considering. The privately-owned store came in $200 less than the big box store. And it had a much better warranty. Only $99 for five years any size TV, no deductibles all in-home.
I returned home and contacted Jan. She was excited about what I’d found. Pleased with all aspects including the great warranty, delivery, etc. I returned to the TV store and made the purchase.
As I left, I told him, “When my TV goes, I’ll be back.” I meant it seriously. He made the shopping experience positive and easy. He earned my loyalty.
I study the human persuasion process
I study buying pathways all the time. Through advanced courses, I’ve taken deep dives into the psychology behind the process.
The marketer in me enjoys triggering a sales funnel and analyzing it. Some are really good while others miss the mark and leave money and opportunities on the table.
It sounds straightforward but there are subtle inuendos that can make or break the results. All too often, I see where the marketer made mistakes.
When I work with clients, we look not at just what they want to sell, but their entire selling process. Every aspect of the related marketing. Each contact point with the prospect.
Don’t ignore this tip
Persuasion is an art form. It is the process of influencing a person’s attitude or behaviors via communications without duress. None of us want to be sold to.
Persuasion is the polar opposite of the typical image of a used car salesman. Someone focused on a sale, not what a person needs.
Instead, persuasive marketing gently guides the person toward a desired action or result.
3 phases of persuasion
There are three unique phases in the persuasion process. If they aren’t kept sequential, the opportunity will be lost.
It’s rather like a date. Most people avoid going on a date with someone they haven’t met. We worry about what their motives are.
We’d prefer to meet them in what we felt was a safe environment, then get acquainted and see if we wanted to progress to friendship.
The same is true in the buying process.
The first thing we need to do in order to persuade the prospect toward the purchase or action is to get their attention.
We start with a promise. It might be to help them feel better, sleep better, do more, gain status, or be more successful. It must be relevant and of concern to them.
Someone who sleeps soundly nine hours a night isn’t going to be interested in sleeping potions.
This means it’s critical to really know your target audience. Who are they? Where are they in their life? What are their interests, needs, concerns? The more you know, the easier it is to give them the right recommendation and offers.
Often I recommend starting with a story.
It’s hard to resist stories. We’re hardwired for them. If you want to get their attention, tell them a story.
It needs to be a relevant story. One that helps the reader see a person like themself. Someone who has their problem, concern, or interest. They see that person getting results and that it might work for them also.
A short relevant story hooks the reader’s interest. It builds a sense of belonging and hope. It doesn’t always result in a sale. Its goal may be for them to ask for more information.
Nurture for persuasion
When they have asked for more information, it’s time to strengthen the relationship. You have moved from meeting a person to maybe going for coffee. You would want to get acquainted. That’s nurturing.
In this phase, they need to learn more about you. They need to feel you have their best interests at heart and can help them in some way. This helps them build the confidence in your relationship to take the next step.
In the nurturing phase the more things they feel they have in common with you, the quicker they build trust. Many of these are subconscious. They happen without us even thinking about them. Part of our primitive brain, they have helped us survive the millennia.
Heard of the guy who went in to apply for a job looking like a long-haired sloppy-dressed hippy? He went in for the interview and it went okay. Then he got a haircut, shaved his beard, and changed to a suit and tie. He went back in and applied again.
The change of appearance, made the interviewer respond totally differently. Subliminally their brain didn’t connect with the sloppy hippy but did connect with the professional appearance.
The same thing can happen on a social site like LinkedIn. Someone asks to connect with you and the next sentence is a pitch to get you to do something. The person completely skipped the getting acquainted phase. There was no nurturing, no relationship, no commonalities, and the result is “no thank you.”
Become their guide
Once you have built the relationship and their confidence, then you can become their friend. You become their guide through each next step.
When I was at the TV specialty shop, the salesman became my guide and mentor. He listened and responded. His friend’s brother has cerebral palsy. He understood the challenges. That was a common thing we shared and helped us connect.
He guided me through the choices and enhanced my confidence in making the right decision. Then let me determine the timing. He didn’t have to do that.
As with every commodity, the supply chain is unpredictable. If there had only been one left in stock, I might have bought it on the spot. But he was honest and said they had several in stock, so I delayed.
In our online marketing and sales journeys, we know if they leave they may never return. So we use urgency, limited inventory, and other buying triggers to help them decide and take action now.
We guide them, like a friend, through the buying journey. And then keep the relationship solid with more nurturing and offering value. We gather them into our tribe and start growing their customer lifetime value.
Judith Culp Pearson is a freelance copywriter marketer. She specializes in helping businesses build relationships that result in loyal customers with high customer lifetime value. firstname.lastname@example.org