Seven Pillars Of Powerful Persuasion For Entrepreneurs

Seven Pillars Of Powerful Persuasion For Entrepreneurs

This article was originally published at Forbes.com

To attain and sustain success, one must become skilled at the art of persuasion.

When I first entered the sales force at the early age of 19, I learned that I must master the art of persuasion to attain my goal of becoming the top-ranked salesperson. My gut reaction was that learning to become persuasive would mean I’d have to become disingenuous. And there wasn’t anything in the world that could incentivize or induce me to become a fake or a fibber. I wasn’t going to become one of those unethical salespeople you hear about who will say or do anything to get the sale. I shrugged off the advice and went about doing it my way. I’ve always been a hardcore values-driven person, and honesty has always been my No. 1 value. I proceeded to go on sales calls with my hardline honesty approach and though people did appreciate my honesty, I wasn’t closing many deals.

The turning point came for me when quite by accident (or as fate would have it), I came across Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book is a basic sales primer, but what enticed me was the book’s description. It promised that the principles contained in the book would teach readers how to make people feel important and appreciated. That resonated with me. Upon further reading, I learned that Carnegie believed that success in life can be attributed to how well one learns to effectively deal with people. As noted in a now out-of-print report, he also believed 85% of a person’s job success can be attributed to interpersonal skills, while the remaining 15% is a result of technical knowledge. These ideas instantly ignited a passion and enthusiasm in me. I set my intention to become adept at the power of persuasion while staying true to myself, and I set a goal to become an inspiring, well-liked and respected top-ranked sales professional.

Over the course of the next decade of my sales career, I achieved my goals well beyond my expectations. In the process, I identified my personal top seven pillars of persuasion that helped me achieve and exceed my goals — including becoming a self-sustaining entrepreneur and self-made millionaire while staying true to my values:

Do prospect research. Gather as much intel as possible prior to the first contact with your prospect. Too many businesspeople neglect to get to know their prospective client or customer, which leaves too much room for creating a barrier right from the start. Having a clear picture of who they are, what they invest in, their company’s core values and any outside interests can help quicken your path to a successful outcome.

Build rapport. Be likable. The art of being likable includes being on time and well-groomed, smiling, looking directly at the person you’re talking to, not over- or under-talking, and looking for and expressing the commonalities between you.

Ask the two most important questions. The answers to these two questions will give you valuable information to become more persuasive. They’ll also make you stand out over your competition and help you achieve your client’s goals, which is the most important aspect of sustainable success. First, what is the most imminent and critical thing for you to achieve? Second, what is the one thing that others have been unable or unwilling to accomplish for you?

Be an active listener. Too many salespeople are stuck in their own heads because they’re trying to remember the facts, figures and presentations that they want to deliver. Remember, it’s more important to build rapport, ask questions and really hear what your prospect is saying than to remember every detail of your pitch. You may find that some of it becomes unnecessary or needs amending so it’s tailored to what you’re hearing. Canned pitches leave prospects feeling unmotivated, like a number, and like they’re not perceived or valued as unique individuals.

Perform a soft close. Do a soft close by asking if you’ve been able to provide them with everything they need to decide today. If they say no, ask them what else you can provide them to help — not only to reach a decision about doing business with you but also to help them in their business going forward. Let them know your goal is to earn the privilege of developing a long-term relationship. Be prepared to go the extra mile and give them some freebies.

Overcome objections non-aggressively. Overcoming objections must be done in a personalized and compassionate way by using the information you gained from actively listening to their hopes, dreams and goals. Using a soft tone of voice, take one objection at a time and illustrate what you personally can do to overcome it. Explain why it’s important to their own success to allow you to do this on their behalf. And, if there truly isn’t a fair or reasonable way to give them what they want, present the facts that illustrate how their objection is preventing them from achieving their goal. Inform them about the payoff of letting go of the objection.

Discern hard-close timing. A hard close doesn’t happen on your timeline. Instead, it should happen when you believe your prospect is fully informed, ready and able, but is delaying their decision. Too many entrepreneurs hold on to their own timelines too tightly to meet a sales quota or out of a sense of desperation. Remember, it’s not about you — it’s about their success.

The art of powerful persuasion begins and ends with always putting your prospects’ best interests and success ahead of yours by being willing to go the extra mile to earn their trust and to make them feel honored, respected and uniquely special. In so doing, their success becomes your success.

ON THE COUCH: Shocking Confessions of a Self-Made Millionaire: 6 Growth Hacking Questions to Consistently Grow Your Success

ON THE COUCH: Shocking Confessions of a Self-Made Millionaire: 6 Growth Hacking Questions to Consistently Grow Your Success

There is only one strategy that works to continuously grow your success and that’s through consistently evolving yourself.

As one rises to ever-increasing levels of success, one’s life becomes more complex. There simply are far more decisions that need to be made, new strategies to learn, more demands placed on your time and energy, more people pursuing you, and more energy spent on how to keep one’s life in balance and not lose one’s self in the process.

There is only one asset that one can’t afford to lose and that’s oneself. How then does one, amid the crush of the overwhelming tidal wave of increasing success, ensure that they keep themselves from diminishing themselves thereby diminishing their success or compromising their #1 asset which is themselves? The answer is to have a set of questions that you can routinely ask yourself that will reliably give you an accurate assessment if you are stagnating or growing your success.

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.”
~John Maxwell

The Top 6 Success Growth Hack Questions to Routinely Ask Yourself:

1. Am I primarily focusing on having more or becoming more?
Example: You are not spending any time on inner growth, self-reflection or investing in personal development.

2. What can I do to evolve myself to the next level right now?
Example: An honest realization of a character defect that is preventing you from self-growth exhibited through a bad habit.

3. Am I striving daily to maintain a balanced achievement of both wealth and well-being?
Example: Are you taking time to nourish your body, mind, spirit, relationships and effectively managing your money.

4. If I’m being 100% honest with myself, one bad habit I have that keeps me from expanding my wealth and well-being is?
Example:  Expecting or allowing others to do for you what you should be doing for yourself.

5. What New habit can I start right now that will get me outside of my current rut and into taking new action to achieve my next level of success?
Example: Stop isolating and get out to new events and meet new people.

6. Am I being honest and true to myself or am I compromising myself and my values to get ahead or get along?
Example: Not being honest or forthright in fear of losing something or someone.

There are two ways to grow. Either you initiate it or outside forces will foist it upon you.  By being proactive in routinely growing yourself, when unexpected challenges present themselves, you will be optimally equipped to handle them with grace, dignity, strength and personal power. Most importantly, you will be rock solid in remaining true to yourself while adeptly converting any challenge into an opportunity to grow yourself, your wealth and well-being.

In Closing My Shocking Confession: It’s so easy to blame, point fingers, get frustrated and angry and think the problem is somebody else. And, maybe it is a problem within the other person.  But one day, I realized that if I can’t unhook from allowing myself to get so frustrated that it disrupts my peace of mind, then who am I to cast judgement on someone else’s character if I lack self-control? I decided right then and there to practice not getting angry. As silly as it sounds, I had a goal not to swear or get angry before noon each day. I failed a lot. I saw 1st hand how easy it was to trigger my emotions. Did I take out these feelings of anger on the other person? No. And, for a long time, I thought that was good enough. But, I realized that to grow myself, I had to control myself to the next highest level.