Persuasion techniques in sales get a bad rap.
With the right mastery, certain sales gurus claim, they can be used to hypnotize prospects into buying practically anything. Much like a captivated cobra following the pipe of a swaying snake charmer.
But sales persuasion techniques aren’t for ripping off marks and suckers—if your product doesn’t have value, they won’t work anyway.
Instead, they’re for boosting your rapport, demonstrating your expertise, and quickly building trust with prospects. And that puts you in a better place to truly serve your buyers’ needs.
This guide shows you how to do just that using five techniques of persuasion. Inside, we look at why these techniques work, break down my proven framework, and highlight a few pro tips to make influencing your buyers even easier.
So if you want to cut through the crap of persuasion psychology and find out what really works in sales, let’s jump in.
Persuasion: Because Facts Alone Don’t Sell Products
No matter how revolutionary your product is or how much of a game-changer your service has become, if your conversations with buyers only focus on the numbers, you’re letting sales slip right through your fingers.
True, logic is a primary sales motivator, especially in the B2B space. And quantifiable data is key for attracting prospects.
But ultimately, decisions are made based on feel.
As the old saying goes:
“People buy on emotion and justify with logic.”– Every Sales Leader Ever
But why? Why are we so compelled by gut when the numbers—the real logic behind a purchase—are staring right at us?
There are three reasons in particular:
- We are emotional
- We are social
- We are risk averse
We Are Emotional
The majority of purchasing decisions (95%) happen in the subconscious mind, according to research from Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman. While we like to believe we are driven by logic in the moment, emotions tend to play a much larger role than we think.
Logical decision-making is the ideal. And we’d like to think every choice we make—from what we eat in the morning to where we invest our money—is driven by cold, calculating rationality.
But it turns out the overwhelming majority of our choices are driven by our subconscious, by our emotions. While we imagine ourselves as the cool-headed Vulcans when it comes to purchasing decisions, we’re really the hot-blooded Klingons.
Sure, sure. B2B buyers are bound to be more focused on the details. But even still, emotions, social pressures, and downright trust are all going to come into play much more than you’d think.
So don’t spend all your time on the numbers. Because deep down, we’re animals driven by our emotions.
We Are Social
“Human beings are wired to connect – and we have the most complex and interesting social behavior out of all animals… This social behavior is a critical part of our adaptive toolkit. It allows us to come together and do things that we wouldn’t be able to do on our own.”– Biological Anthropologist Michael Platt, Ph.D. at Neuroscience 2019
Whether you’re a people person or not—and in this line of work, you probably are—the truth of the matter is we as humans are incredibly social. Believed to be more social than any other animal in some circles in fact. Heck, we even have a specific area of our brain devoted entirely to recognizing the faces of others.
It is in part our complex social behaviors that have led us to create culturally rich and distinctive societies all around the globe. And it’s these behaviors that allowed us to thrive as a species when the odds were stacked against us.
It isn’t surprising, then, that the opinions of others—of society—tend to factor heavily into our decision-making. Learning from the experience of our peers is advantageous. And the more our associates trust something (product, service, whatever), the more likely we’ll be to trust it too.
It’s why the persuasion techniques that focus on social proof (more on those later) are so powerful in sales.
We Are Risk Averse
“Only a mere 3% of people consider salespeople to be trustworthy.” – HubSpot
Yikes. That one stings a bit, doesn’t it?
A whopping 97% of people immediately distrust what you’re saying based on your profession alone.
Shifting your body language, sending persuasive messages, using peer pressure, leveraging social psychology hacks… getting a buyer across the curiosity gap and having them agree to a larger request for time or money is going to be difficult.
Even if your buyer’s already seen all those amazing numbers and product specs, they’re still going to hesitate. Why? Well, they’re probably wondering, “How is this going to screw me over in the long run?”
That’s because as humans, we are hardwired to be risk-averse. When we lose something, it hurts deep. In fact, it hurts more than not gaining. And as a result, we’re less likely to risk what we have and are more likely to maintain the status quo.
Facts matter. But if you can get a buyer to truly trust you, then you can get over that risk-averse hump. And that’s where persuasion psychology comes in.
The Instant Influence Framework
Okay okay, so we’re not as logical as we think we are. And with the right persuasion techniques, we can tap into the less quantitative side of our buyer’s brains, earn real trust, and nudge them closer to a purchase.
Now, the question is how?
I’ve found the following five persuasive techniques to be the most effective in the B2B sales space.
- Commitment Begets Commitment
- Leverage Your Social Proof
- Reciprocity (You Get What You Give)
- Scarcity Is a GOOD Thing
- Exude Authority
These techniques make up what I call The Impactful Influence Framework. And if you can implement them into your processes, you’ll be amazed at how much cachet your words hold with prospects.
(And that, of course, translates to more sales…)
1. Commitment Begets Commitment
Once we buy into a product or service that works, we’re more likely to continue buying from that same source.
Simply put, people tend to avoid changing their minds. And in the past, if we made a decision that didn’t harm us (or better yet, benefitted us), we weren’t going to question making that decision next time around. We’d just do it.
It’s a matter of reducing cognitive load. By choosing the path of least resistance, we conserve our energy so we can better evaluate new situations.
And believe it or not, the same principle applies to sales. If you can get your buyer to agree with you (even on small matters), then they’re much more likely to keep on agreeing with you throughout the buying process.
Micro-Closes: The Key To Commitment
The best way to leverage this step of persuasion techniques is to use “micro-closes.”
I’ve talked about micro-closes before in the closing framework. But basically, it’s all about getting small yesses throughout the sales process that make the final yes more likely. Think of it like building buy-in momentum.
You can use micro-closes in practically any step of the process, including:
- Locking the buyer into agreement on your goals: “Does it make sense to move forward with this if you can achieve XYZ?”
- Getting the buying group together for a meeting: “Does it make sense to get Barry and Jenny involved in the next meeting?”
- Closing the budget: “If you have a budget of $X, does it make sense to look at Y?”
Ultimately, each yes you earn is building buy-in momentum. And it’s also building rapport by giving the buyer a sense of agency throughout the process.
It’s a win-win!
Pro Tip: Aim for commitment, not compliance. The beauty of micro-closing is it reinforces the fact that the buyer/seller relationship is built on mutual power. No one needs to strong-arm the other party. As a result, buyers don’t feel like they’re being taken advantage of, boosting rapport and increasing the chances of closing.
These frequent micro-closes (or “check-ins”) also continually remind your buyer they’re still in control. If something’s holding them back from moving forward, they have the opportunity to bring it up. And you have the opportunity to address that objection.
For you, that means no nasty surprises when it comes time to close.
“In investigations and in sales, we are striving for a commitment, not compliance. Compliance is essentially obeying an order. It’s very short-term, it breeds resentment. Commitment is achieved when people have the opportunity to at least take some idea ownership for the process, and the linchpin behind all of this is encouraging people to protect their self-images throughout the entire process.” – Interview with Michael Reddington, Certified Forensic Interviewer & President of InQuasive, Inc
2. Leverage Your Social Proof
As we all know, buyers have a hard time trusting sales reps right off the bat. Remember, just 3% consider salespeople to be trustworthy.
We can debate the merits of this natural distrust day and night. But the fact remains—you’ve got to do some serious trust-building before you can close. And that’s where social proof comes in.
Social proof is any instance of a third party showing you and your product are credible. This could include:
- Customer ratings
- Case studies
- Success stories
- Social media cloud (likes, shares, followers, etc.)
- Influencer endorsements
And when you pepper in your social proof throughout your interactions with buyers, you’re subtly and potently shifting them closer to trusting you and what you’re selling.
Social Proof Techniques
You can’t just throw testimonial after testimonial at a buyer and continue to see results. There’s the law of diminishing returns to consider here.
That’s why if you’re going to use social proof (and you should), you’ve got to do it right.
Below are a few social proof techniques you should try to follow.
- Use Faces – Always include the faces of past buyers in testimonials, quotes, and other forms of social proof. It adds credibility and helps prospects connect on an emotional level with the words.
- Get Quantifiable – Focus on numbers if you can. A quick “Sam was great!” doesn’t hold the same weight as “Sam’s recommendations directly led to a 1.5X increase in our revenue and a 2X reduction in our overhead!”
- Benefit + Feature – You want social proof to mention the benefits. But you should also focus on blurbs that mention specific features of your product or service too. This helps tie those earned benefits to concrete aspects of your product.
- Fit the Type – Each social proof type has optimal formats. For instance, testimonials on your site shouldn’t be six paragraphs long. And case studies should be in-depth reports that dive into the weeds. Be sure you familiarize yourself with each type of social proof.
Pro Tip: Make it simple for potential buyers to find your social proof. Try putting a direct link to your testimonials right in your email subject line. You should also have a specific section of your website dedicated to successful experiences your past clients have had with you.
Don’t fret too much over modesty, either. You offer a valuable service. And it actually benefits prospects to know you’ve helped other buyers just like them. Truth be told, prospects are probably already looking for reasons why your product is their solution. All you’re doing is making their job of finding those reasons even easier.
“If you want to become a recognized expert in your field, the things you need to concentrate on, number one, content creation. This is just getting your ideas out there so that people know what your ideas are and can see that they’re good ideas. Number two is social proof. This is basically your credibility. Why should people take you seriously? What affiliations do you have? What are the markers that you know what you’re talking about?” – Interview with Dorie Clark, Duke & Columbia Business Professor, WSJ Best Selling Author
3. Reciprocity (You Get What You Give)
Tribes, towns, cities, countries—they all stem from one thing: reciprocity. It’s the social contract we all live by. When we’re given something, we’re hardwired to want to give back.
But don’t get it twisted. That desire comes from a selfish place. Each gift leaves a hole, a debt dent if you will, that we’re compelled to get rid of. And as a sales professional, you can leverage that need for reciprocity to boost your sales effectiveness.
Making use of reciprocity is easy. And it doesn’t involve any weird hacks, tricks, or manipulation techniques. All you have to do is offer value and respect your buyer.
- Start your buyer conversations by providing insights, free of charge. When you teach the buyer something new upfront, they’ll reciprocate with their time.
- When doing a demo, give the buyer what they need to know without wasting their time. They’ll make a buying decision quicker in return.
- Use logical negotiations to get the deal done seamlessly with little stress for everyone. The buyer will get the contracts signed with minimal (or zero) follow-up.
And if you’re following the Selling Made Simple Academy training, you’re doing all of this already.
The Benjamin Franklin Effect
Reciprocity is a powerful pull. But doing the opposite can actually increase the likelihood of earning more value from your buyer too.
This is what’s known as The Benjamin Franklin Effect. And it was discovered by none other than the founding renaissance man himself. In his own words:
“He that has once done you a Kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he who you yourself have obliged.”
Essentially, asking for a favor will bring more favors.
Now, this isn’t to say you should be wasting your buyer’s time or holding back on providing valuable insights. Instead, try using The Benjamin Franklin Effect in tandem with the reciprocity techniques described above.
- Ask a prospect for insights into their area of expertise.
- See if you can feature a quote from them in an upcoming piece of content.
- Get them to participate in a poll you’re conducting.
Don’t get pushy (of course). But try getting small favors from prospects throughout your conversations. You may be amazed at how much it influences their purchase decisions.
Pro Tip: Quality content is an invaluable component of this step. Whether you’re an industry thought leader or someone who just has a good handle on the biz, when you create and share content that brings real value to the table, you’re already planting the seeds of reciprocity in your readers’ minds.
Sharing your best content with buyers at the earliest stages of conversations primes the pump, so to speak. They’ll want to give back. Because you’re bringing real value to their business with that content. And consequently, they’ll be compelled to pay that value forward to you.
“If you want to create attraction, you have to create content. So if you’re going to be perceived as a salesperson of any kind of value, then I want to know what you think about how I win. Content has to be prepared in a way where the customer feels they win. And if they do, then you win.” – Interview with Jeffrey Gitomer, Best Selling Sales Author & Speaker
4. Scarcity Is a GOOD Thing
We all want the hard-to-get stuff, don’t we?
Like the other sales persuasion techniques in this framework, the appeal of scarce goods gets down to a biological and evolutionary level. Scarce resources were food and shelter in our pre-tribal days. And a drive to value scarce resources over abundant ones often meant the difference between life and death.
In the world of B2B sales, the same is true!
Buyers want to work with salespeople who are oversubscribed. They want to have a meeting with the best of the best. And they want to buy from reps who have clients jam-packed in their pipeline.
Think of it like this—if you find out you have cancer, you don’t want to go to the doctor who has zero patients. No, you want to be checked out by the doctor who can just barely squeeze you in this week.
And the best way to appeal to this scarcity bias is by valuing your time.
Value Your Time (Have Some Self Respect!)
You are not a pesky salesperson that’s trying to con and trick your way into a deal. You are a consultant. You are an expert. And you are a deal maker—so start acting like one!
And that means you should value your own time.
You need to be prompt with your responses to the buyer, sure. But you sure as hell don’t need to miss your kid’s school play to jump on a sales call. Instead, tell the buyer you’ll call them at a time that fits your schedule.
Equally importantly, stop begging for meetings and be happy to walk away when the buyer is clearly not a good fit (or is being downright rude). Doing so sets the ground rules for your relationships. And paradoxically, you’ll find yourself closing more business because of it.
As soon as you position yourself as an expert in your field, stop chasing crappy buyers.
Stop bending over backward to please everyone.
And embrace a reasonable level of scarcity with your time. You’ll become immediately more influential as a result.
Pro Tip: Setting boundaries is the first (and often most important) step towards boosting work effectiveness and managing burnout. Sales can be tough. You know it, I know it, and the rest of the world knows it too. But that doesn’t mean you have to let work consume the important things in your life—family, friends, personal passions, health.
The stricter you are with your work/life balance boundaries, the better you’ll feel. And surprisingly to some, you’ll also be in higher demand, earn more respect, and have more influence over your prospects too.
So set your (reasonable) boundaries. And for heaven’s sake stick to them!
“I guess the key message is you don’t have to hit bottom, reject the job or create arguments or send shitty emails. You don’t have to hit that point in order to start to find some wellness.” – Interview with Tim Clarke, Senior Marketing Leader at Salesforce, Co-Founder & CEO of UNCrushed
5. Exude Authority
We as humans wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without some sort of social hierarchy. There have always been experts who knew more than others on a subject. And we turned to them for advice, guidance, and reassurance.
These are the authorities—the individuals whose opinions hold more sway than everyone else. And they’re the ones that spur more action, too.
For instance, if I got a call from Warren Buffet about changing my investment strategy, you’d better believe I’d listen. But if it was from my deadbeat friend who dropped out of high school, I’d be a lot less likely to take his advice.
Authority matters. And if you can appear more authoritative, you can influence your prospects to close more frequent and more lucrative deals.
How to Boost Your Authority
So, how do you boost your authority? Below are the five best techniques I’ve found to appear more authoritative in front of prospects.
- Create Valuable Content – Publishing and sharing insights is the first step towards building your authority. Just make sure those insights are truly valuable (no one’s going to read them if they aren’t).
- Build Your Own Website – You can use this website to host testimonials, new content, and contact forms. Plus, your own site goes a long way towards showing you’re serious about what you do.
- Beef Up Your LinkedIn – Fill out your entire profile. Add skills and endorsements. Showcase your certifications. And bring in more followers. LinkedIn is one of the most valuable social business tools on the internet today.
- Be Assertive – If you have expertise on a subject, speak about it confidently. If you need something from a buyer, ask for it. And always remember, you are a professional with real value.
- Have Some Class – Finally, don’t be afraid to invest in your appearance. Beyond just physical, you’ll also want to invest in the “production value” of your website, your content, and even your meeting setup and tools.
Pro Tip: Get quantified with your authority boosters. Sales tends to be a numbers game. And when it comes to the persuasive power of your authority boosters, the same principle holds true—the better your numbers, the more respect you earn.
For instance, pick out testimonials that highlight how much a past client’s revenue shot up after adopting your product. Shine a spotlight on exactly how much more efficient (%) your services made a past customer.
When you anchor your solution to real, tangible numbers, it not only makes your value more concrete. But it also proves that you’re the real deal. And your words hold some serious weight.
“Results are the thing. If you want to know if someone is as good as they say they are, you want to look for tangible results.” – Interview with Daniel Disney, Founder/Owner of The Daily Sales, Keynote Speaker, & Author
Humans are inherently emotional, social, and risk-averse. And unfortunately, that means numbers alone often aren’t enough to turn an on-the-fence prospect into a satisfied buyer. They need that extra push of trust to get over that final hump.
With the persuasion techniques outlined in The Impactful Influence Framework, you can give your buyers that final necessary push.
All it takes is following the five simple steps:
- Commitment Begets Commitment
- Leverage Your Social Proof
- Reciprocity (You Get What You Give)
- Scarcity Is a GOOD Thing
- Exude Authority
Remember, these aren’t some sleazy tricks to dupe buyers into making a purchase they’ll later regret. Instead, they’re meant to help you build rapport, earn serious trust, and position yourself as an authority in your field—which you are!
If you’re already providing solid, comprehensive numbers and data for your prospects, adding these persuasion techniques into the mix will help you appeal to both their logical and emotional side.
The result? More closed deals. Happier buyers. And a fatter commission.
How do you feel about that?