Key Learning Outcomes

  • Understand that persuasion is a tool for promoting an idea, service or product, to influence specific behaviour or during negotiations.
  • Recognise the importance of credibility which can be developed from knowledge, experience, trust and ethical behaviour.
  • Develop your questioning and active listening skills so you are clear on the potential customer’s needs.
  • Outline the potential benefits of your products and services, and provide supporting evidence of these benefits.
  • Understand the need to display positive emotions and to be mindful of your customers’ emotions.


Persuasion is about influence. But it is not just about selling or trying to convince someone to agree with you. It is about gaining a shared understanding through communicating facts, using logical argument and appealing to emotions.

There are very few of us that do not have something still hanging in the wardrobe or sitting on the shelf with the tags still attached. It is likely these items were sold to us by someone with a motive of making a quick sale rather than building a long-term relationship with us. We usually give in not because we actually believed we looked great in that outfit or could really benefit from the product, but because it was a small ticket item, the salesperson gave a good spiel or we were caught up in the moment.

For those skilled in the art of persuasion, there are some real benefits not just in business but across all aspects of life. The key to persuasion is to ensure that you are using the techniques ethically, otherwise we are no better than the salesperson out for that quick sale. Persuasion is a technique that is valuable when promoting an idea or product to others, to influence certain behaviour or for when you are negotiating. There is a plethora of material available on persuasion and in some related articles we will cover some of the more popular and useful theories. In this article we will go over some of the critical elements of persuasion.[wlm_ismember]


In order to be persuasive you need to have credibility. It goes without saying, if you do not have expert knowledge and experience in your particular field or industry you are unlikely to be successful in persuading clients. There is an old saying that knowledge is power and it holds true when you are looking to be persuasive.

The other way to build credibility is through building trust and relationships. If you have had previous dealings with someone who has perceived you as trustworthy and ethical, then it is likely that they will be open to listening to you a second time. If you are dealing with people that you do not have an existing relationship with, remember that frequent contact will help build trust over time.

Ask, don’t tell

You have to establish that your proposition or argument appeals in some way to your audience. There is no use in trying to persuade someone to buy that nice sports car if they have three small children and need an SUV, no matter how good the car looks. It is important that you ask meaningful questions and then listen to the answers. Use open-ended questions and active listening skills to ensure that you fully understand your potential client’s needs.


If you are not clear on the potential benefits you are offering, there is little chance your audience will be. There has to be an upside or benefit for the person who accepts your proposition or offering. It is important that you listen to the person’s needs and then match the benefits to them. You will find more on benefit selling in this section.

Back it up

You should have evidence that what you are saying makes sense or represents value. Saying something is one thing; however, when you back this up with some compelling evidence, you will capture your audience’s attention and bring your argument to life. Compelling evidence includes statistics, examples or case studies. Once people can see and hear the proof, they are more likely to change their perspective and agree.

Appeal to emotions

Emotions are one of the primary factors in motivation and decision-making. Use your emotions to enhance your position. This may mean showing emotions such as enthusiasm or passion, or suppressing them if you are feeling frustrated or annoyed. Be alert to the emotions of the other party and respond to them. If you feel that the person is getting confused or overwhelmed, use your pace and tone to calm them down and get them back on track. Look for signs that the person is emotionally connected to your product, proposition or argument and build on them.

Persuasion is a powerful tool that once mastered and implemented can help produce some great results in your business.

Points to remember


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