Campaigns & Execution

Covert Persuasion: How to Change “No” to “Yes”

covert persuasionA friend of mine introduced me to a great book recently — Covert Persuasion: Psychological Tactics and Tricks to Win the Game by Kevin Hogan and James Speakman.

The book is about creating change in the mind of clients and customers without making them aware that the changes are occurring – “covert persuasion.”  It offers great insights into human quirks, then offers words and tactics that capitalize on those quirks to help you change “no” to “yes.”

While this book should become an instant sales classic, business marketers and entrepreneurs should embrace it as well.  When we truly understand our own behaviors, decision making processes and irrationalities, we become far more effective marketers.

Covert Persuasion Summary

From their section “Fifteen Observations About People,” here are a few quirks and tactics that I found most interesting:

  • People don’t know how to ask great questions, partly because they’d rather pretend they already know the answer.  Your goal:  Develop good questions to help guide prospects in the direction you want them to go.
  • Most people let their bad attitudes, developed over time, cloud their judgement. To overcome negative attitudes, pepper your conversation with powerful questions that can adjust the prospect’s point of view. For instance, you might ask a resistant customer, “Did you know there’s a new technology that overcomes the problem you’ve highlighted?”
  • People know what they don’t want. Your mission is to help them recognize what they do want but may have trouble expressing. They suggest using this phrase:  “I know you don’t know, but if you did know, what would it be?”  A surprisingly high number of people will answer this question clearly.
  • Customers don’t know how your product solves their problem. It’s your job to find out what customers need – and once you know what they need, recommend a solution.
  • People feel a sense of entitlement. People approach businesses with an attitude of “You owe me!”  The only way to respond is to treat everyone with honesty and fairness.
  • People tend to be lazy. They always look for the easiest way to do anything. So if it’s not easier to buy from you than it is from your competitor, you may lose the sale.  To persuade them, you must clearly show how buying now will help them avoid a costly, painful problem. Then make it easy for them to buy.  Do everything for them.  Remember, if you require your prospects to do too many things, they’ll never become your customers.
  • People do more to avoid pain than they do to gain pleasure. Show the prospect what he will lose if he doesn’t take action right now!
  • People don’t really listen; they wait to talk. This may be true of you as well. Convey interest and encourage the other person to talk more.  Use questions to steer the conversation.  And listen more than you talk.
  • People overpromise and underdeliver. Companies have good intentions, but they usually fall short of making the customer feel valued. They promise a lot, and then they deliver far less.  Do the opposite: Underpromise and overdeliver. You’ll pleasantly surprise your customers, and they’ll tell everyone they know.

Again, if you’re in sales, you can easily apply these strategies and tactics to improve your skills.  You can also use these tactics in campaigns, in presentations to potential partners, and in your day-to-day business conversations.  After all, everyone wants to hear a “yes!”

Again, here’s the link to the book on Amazon.



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