Because I Said So

Oh good,  you’re back.  I guess that means you’re still in business.  After last week’s posting about the shrinking numbers and dismal prospects for Freelancers,  I thought you might have decided to cash in your chips and interview for a job at Kinko’s…

Well,  since we’re still in the game,  let’s make the best of it.  Making the best of it definitely entails getting people to do what we want them to do,  maybe even when we want them to do it.  Wouldn’t that be fantastic?  I daydream about this kind of stuff all the time–especially when I am patiently waiting for a client to pay me what is owed.  Even more so when I am patiently waiting for two clients to pay me what is owed (like now).

Getting others to do what we want is all about the art of persuasion.  If we could get even one quarter of our clients and prospects to do what we want,  we’d all be driving Jaguars!

While browsing in a bookstore recently,  I happened upon an interesting book by Chris St. Hilaire,  who is a jury selection consultant and author of  “27 Powers of Persuasion:  Simple Strategies to Seduce Audiences & Win Allies” (2010).

In his book,  St. Hilaire points out that true persuasion is not about arm-twisting or even outmaneuvering your opponent.  Rather,  true persuasion is about creating consensus and unity of purpose.  The author recommends four key strategies that will improve your powers of persuasion,  applicable to both your business and personal life:

Emphasize the goal to bring all parties to agreement

When we go into a client meeting,  we tend to assume that all parties are on the same page.  Not so,  says St. Hilaire.  It is common for people to talk past one another,  wrapped in their inaccurate assumptions,  failing to hear what the other side has said,  failing to grasp important meanings and significance.

Negotiation failure that leads to a deal-breaker can result from incomplete or sloppy communication.  It could even appear that the other party has an entirely different goal for the project at hand.  This is a Level One misunderstanding that nevertheless has the power to derail you.  Avoid disappointment by briefly summarizing your goals upfront.  Ensure that the other party knows why you are there and you will move closer to getting what you want.

Use numbers to make talking points more powerful

Americans love to quantify things.  Numbers help people to define and measure both success and failure.  Judiciously inject a statistic or two (don’t overload) into your presentation and help your client or prospect to put your goal into perspective,  help him/her to visualize and compare your features and benefits to other available options and lay the groundwork for the acceptance of your proposal,  i.e.,  your goal.

Third party validation can bring others to your way of thinking

Presenting the expert opinion of a trusted and respected source who is presumed to be neutral and objective can make your proposal  look like the gold standard.  People are often reluctant to contradict the practices and opinions of those who are known to be smart and influential.  Do what you can to make it appear that your goals are on the side of the angels.

Silence can be your most effective technique

Learn to get comfortable with silence in a negotiating/selling situation.  According to St. Hilaire,  silence allows you to control a room without seeming aggressive.  The other party will almost always become uncomfortable and nervous and blurt out what they really think,  fear,  want,  or plan to do. 

Even if you don’t receive the ideal answer,  hidden objections will come to light,  giving you an opportunity to acknowledge and resolve them.  That greatly improves the odds for your success.

Thanks for reading,



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