Twice this week the topic of persuasion came up. The first time was during a conversation with one of my referral partners. He was updating me on the proposals he had received for his new business. Of the three potential vendors he was considering, one came back with a proposal that made him wonder if they had heard anything that he had said during their meeting. The second time persuasion occurred during a seminar specifically about persuasion. I found out later that my two separate experiences were actually connected.
Persuasion is actually a form of conflict, according to those who were presenting at the seminar. While the word conflict is traditionally viewed in a negative light, persuasion is not necessarily a negative. As a verb, conflict is defined as “incompatible or at variance,” which again is not truly a negative.
You might be thinking “What does persuasion have to do with marketing?” Well, quite simply, everything. With marketing, we use the art of persuasion to engage our target audience. Individuals within our target audience can, at any given time, be in a state of incompatibility (conflict) with our messages. In other words, they may not have a current need for our product or services. However, the goal of our marketing tactics is to be top of mind, so when there is the need or opportunity for our product or service we are favored.
Unfortunately, many opportunities are missed because we have not reduced the perceived incompatibility (conflict) when we are in front of a prospect – which brings me back to my initial conversation with my referral partner. No one was listening. Not truly listening to those we are engaging with greatly increases the odds that we will not be awarded the contract or deal. Listening reduces the potential conflict because it is evidence you heard what was said. It validates the prospect and improves the compatibility between what you are offering and what the prospect needs.
Keep it personal.