The Not-So-Simple Art Of Persuasion

10th December 2019
Suzanne Shaw

Ever since the concept of trade first emerged, human beings have been trying to nail down that most elusive of skills – how to influence people to share your point of view.

This is a useful skill in all sorts of fields, from politics to personal relationships. But nowhere is ‘influence’ more sought after than in business, whether you want to settle a negotiation on favourable terms or persuade more people to buy your product.

As Sir David Frost once put it: “Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” That’s amusing and pretty accurate, but it sounds a bit sinister when applied to sales and marketing. Zig Ziglar probably nailed the concept that’s most helpful to businesses in the digital era when he said: “Stop selling. Start helping.”

When you want to develop negotiation skills, the first thing is to understand the person you’re trying to influence – as in, why they say ‘no’ to things and why they say ‘yes’. Once you have a grip on how they make their decisions and what their values are, then you can see things from their point of view, which is the first step to bringing them round to your point of view.

Making a compelling case and finding a way around the roadblocks of their resistance can be very tricky, which is why Zig Ziglar’s approach is still so relevant in 2019. People are used to being advertised at; they field countless attempts to influence their buying and lifestyle choices every day. So, if you’re going to persuade them to share your opinion – which is that they should buy your product or service, or sign your deal – you need to make them understand why this is an advantageous choice for them. Which is only possible once you’ve truly understood what they see as advantageous in the first place.

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