How to convince your customers, followers and collaborators

What is the number one reason for why entrepreneurs fail?
[drumroll 🥁]: no paying customers.

In other words, nobody buys their product. That’s pretty simple.

In general, why does someone not buy a product? Logically, either they can’t afford it or they don’t want to spend their money on it regardless of how much money they have.

And what if they can afford it but they still don’t buy it?

Logically, either they don’t need it or they prefer to buy it from someone else.

Either way, seems like you have to convince them before you can expect them to buy from you.

You have to convince them that they actually need your product (this is easier if your product is actually useful). You also have to convince them that they should buy it from you, not from someone else.

So you have to convince them about the usefulness of your product. That it solves their problem. Heals their pain. Makes them happy. Is better than the competitor products. You have to convince them to at least try your product, because then you get indicative data about whether you have a selling problem or a product problem (click here to read more about solving problems).

But successful businesses and product launches require much more than convinced potential customers. To be successful, you also need to convince your partners and collaborators, mentors and consultants, investors and lenders, colleagues and supervisors, retailers, distributors, maybe your friends, maybe your spouse, maybe your mom.

You must basically convince anyone who provides you with resources or is a potential customer. Otherwise their support won’t last long and they won’t spread the word.

You will fail, because you didn’t convince them.

So how can you convince people and persuade them to say yes?

The 6 principles of persuasion

There’s a number of techniques and resources both online and offline explaining how to sell anything. Many of those resources can be very helpful. I have written articles on how to sell more by using different pricing strategies and how to build products that sell themselves. These should be helpful for entrepreneurs in any field.

The best way to convince someone is to provide a working solution to a really painful problem they have.

But even then you will probably have customers and collaborators who can’t fully relate to the problem and need to be convinced. And even when people are convinced, influencing their thinking and convincing them even more can lead them to be willing to pay a higher price for your solution.

One of the best ways to convince people and influence their decision making is to apply the principles of persuasion developed by Robert Cialdini, a professor of behavioral economics. In his book “Influence: The psychology of persuasion” from 1984, Cialdini proposes six principles of persuasion to influence people’s decisions.

The six principles of persuasion are 1) reciprocity, 2) scarcity, 3) authority, 4) consistency, 5) liking, and 6) consensus.

Rather than explaining the six principles and the background of the method here in detail, I embedded an animated video that nicely elucidates and illustrates the subject with real life examples and scientific studies. Watch the incredibly insightful and informative video below.

Here are Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion summarized:

The 6 principles of persuasion

In conclusion

The principles of persuasion can be applied by anyone, not only entrepreneurs. For example, a corporate employee who has an innovative idea needs to convince their superiors and colleagues to receive required resources and support. A job interviewee needs to convince their counter partners to get the job. A dude needs to convince his friends and their wives to go on a road trip together.

Anyone who is selling an idea and wants others to like it can apply these principles. They can be used smartly without having to explicitly beg people to say yes. Like it says at the end of the video, these principles provide “small practical, often costless changes that can lead to big differences in your ability to influence and persuade others in an entirely ethical way“.

Sometimes products and ideas are so good that it seems like there’s no persuasion needed whatsoever. It’s good to remember however that the “final” idea or product is rarely the same as the first idea or the first product version. Most likely it’s been a long way from the first idea to the final product. All the persuasion and convincing arguments have been integrated into the product and marketing already. But that’s persuasion too.

There’s always persuasion in one form or another.

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