Although we may believe we have evolved a great deal, the human mind is as irrational as it has ever been. We want to believe that we make decisions based on deliberation and rational thinking, but that’s not what tends to actually happen. We make decisions based on emotions and heuristics (mental shortcuts) which guide our thinking and make us take action. We make the decision first, based on emotion, and after that, we rationalize it with an explanation, made up after the fact.
Knowing this, we can take advantage of this human tendency for irrationality. By doing certain things a certain way, paying attention to body language, giving others the feeling of control, or implying scarcity and urgency, we can manipulate the human mind into taking certain actions. Be careful with these coming persuasion tactics. If used correctly, they can be extremely powerful. Make sure to only use them for good.
The first thing people will notice when they start talking to you, is your voice. Whether you are communicating with them through the phone, or in real life, people are going to notice how you speak. This is going to determine what they think of you, and whether they’ll even listen to you.
The most important part of the conversation, where you have to get your tonality right, is right at the beginning. You have to open up the conversation with the tone of the emotion you want to convey. If you’re selling a product that you believe is amazing, then your opening should be with a tonality that conveys enthusiasm. Be careful to not overdo this, being overly excited will immediately turn everyone off, what you need is a controlled form of enthusiasm in your voice, a kind where the other person can notice that you believe in your product, but isn’t put off by your voice.
In ‘Way of the Wolf’, Jordan Belfort calls this type of enthusiasm, ‘bottled enthusiasm’, which I believe is a very good description.
One of the main reasons it is so crucial to get the tonality right at the start of the conversation is the ‘Halo effect’. This effect essentially means that when we notice one positive quality about someone, we imagine that they have all other sorts of other positive qualities. This means that when you get the right tonality from the start, people will immediately believe you have more positive qualities (trustworthy, positive, reliable, etc.).
What is important to note is that you should never keep talking in the same tonality throughout the whole conversation. You should switch it up. When your tonality stays the same, your voice becomes monotone and boring. Humans are always attracted to change, this stems back from the times we were hunter-gatherers when we had to notice changes in our environment because they could mean danger, but it applies to tonality as well. Change keeps our attention, especially unexpected change (surprise), so to keep the other person engaged, you need to change up your tonality throughout the conversation. There are multiple tonalities you can use in a conversation as described by Jordan Belfort, such as the reasonable man, bottled enthusiasm, absolute certainty, and utter sincerity. There are tons of different tones of voice that you can use, and there is no solid answer to which you should use. Experiment for yourself and see which ones work and which ones don’t. Eventually, you’ll find your voice, and persuade people like you never have before.
When you’re on the phone, or writing an email, people are not able to see your body, so body language is not an important factor. But the moment you talk to someone in real life, or even via Facetime or Zoom, you’re body language instantly becomes one of the most important things. Just like with your tonality, the body language you display at the start of a conversation is crucial because of the Halo effect. Once they see that you have the right body language, they’ll immediately ascribe more positive qualities to you.
Although almost nobody is a body language expert, people unconsciously understand body language. You may not know what a certain posture means exactly, but you will feel a certain way after noticing it without you even knowing.
What types of body language you should display are different depending on what you want to convey. If you want them to believe that you are confident in what you’re selling, don’t have a hunched back and a closed posture. Open yourself up, keep your back straight, chest up, and stand confidently.
You want your body language to convey that you are someone who can be trusted, someone the other person would like, someone who is confident in their abilities and their product, and someone who they can feel comfortable with. This is achieved by open body language. What people often do when they’re nervous, is they close up. The person in front of you doesn’t want you to be nervous, he wants you to be confident. So to convey this confidence, open your body up. To show that you’re listening to the other person and interested in what they have to say, lean in a bit, and do not cross your arms when they talk. Leaning back is a sign of disinterest, and crossing your arms is a sign of closed-mindedness.
Conveying the right body language is not complicated, but it is crucial to any success you’re going to have. You shouldn’t think however that if you get the perfect body language people will instantly be persuaded.
Good body language is not something that makes the sale or persuades the person, but not having good body language definitely ruins every chance you have of doing any of those things.
Start with no
When you start the conversation, you want the person you’re talking to feel at ease, and preferably, you want them to feel in control over the conversation.
This may sound odd because you’d think you want to feel in control of the conversation, but that’s not what this is about.
You want to ‘be’ in control of the conversation, but you want the other person to ‘feel’ in control of the conversation. This is because then their decision feels like a product of their own choices and not someone else’s.
If you buy a product from someone but you feel like they are in control of the entire conversation and essentially force you to buy it, you’re not going to like the product as much as when you feel like you made that decision all on your own. The other person should feel like he is in control, and that he makes his own choices.
The best way to give them this feeling of control early on in the conversation is by getting them to answer ‘no’ to a question. What this does is it lowers people’s defenses and makes them feel like they’re in control.
What a lot of salespeople will tell you is that you should get as many yesses as possible, because this would make people more positive towards you or your product. This is true, but it is very beneficial to let the person say no a few times in the conversation.
The word no carries a powerful meaning, it means defiance, it means making your own decision, and it means rejecting someone else’s request, something that should require independent thinking and a sense of control.
So how do you do this in the best and most effective way possible? How do you get a no or a couple of no’s early on, without them thinking negatively about you or your product?
The best way you can do this is with the first sentence, how you introduce yourself. Start with a question that they have to answer ‘no’ to. So instead of saying: “Is now a good time to talk?” say: “Am I interrupting you?”
Instead of a yes answer, you’ll get a no, with essentially the same question. However, this does give the person you’re talking to a feeling of control. Instead of just yesmanning, the person gets to say no. Now he or she gets the feeling of having control, while you only framed the question a tiny bit differently. Slight difference, but huge effect.