Persuasion advice is all the rage these days — but does it really work?
Whether it’s yet another influencer dishing out obsolete Ben Franklin quotes (nothing against Ben but the world was a simpler place 300 years ago), or some book telling you to “create urgency,” one thing is clear: Somehow, the world is full of more unpersuasive people than ever before.
Curiously, some of the least persuasive people are actually professional salespeople. Be honest, when is the last time a salesperson REALLY influenced your decision to buy something?
It may happen on rare occasions, but it’s definitely not the norm. (This is why whoever sold you your last car/refrigerator/couch/TV/dishwasher probably doesn’t work there anymore.)
Personally, I’ve noticed 4 levels of professional grade persuasion:
1) Tricksters. This is the type of person you’ll often find working at car dealerships, or leasing apartments. They think persuasion is about tricks, gimmicks, and being slick. They’ll tell you blatant lies, like, “You better act quickly — there’s only 1 unit left at this price!”
2) Pot-Shotters. Think of the salesperson who accosts you at Costco trying to get you to sign up for DirecTV. These people believe that persuasion is a numbers game. Go after enough shoppers, and some will inevitably say yes…right? This salesperson’s real game is facing loads of rejection. Their mantra is, “Next!”
3) Relationship Builders. These are usually smart people with a generous helping of people skills they can use to sell just about any solid product or service. They don’t just know your name, they remember all of the details, right down to your exact needs and preferences, and even your kids’ birthdays. At the low end you might find them selling gym memberships; at the higher end they can sell anything from advertising to pharmaceuticals, Beverly Hills mansions, and even private jets.
4) Invisible Persuaders. These are the only true persuasive masters. You usually won’t find these people selling on the front lines — they’re usually operating at scale, orchestrating the persuasion of tens of thousands (or even millions) of people every day. They make it look easy because you never see the invisible strings they are pulling. For example, they may tell a simple story…then stand back as herds of people do whatever they say.
I don’t know about you, but that last category interests me the most. Not just because they can teach us the most about how to be persuasive, but also because learning and internalizing these lessons can help you be more resistant to persuasion — a very useful quality.
Tomorrow, I’ll show you real examples of Invisible Persuaders in action, including one who made an art out of stealthily persuading very powerful people — without them ever realizing it.
In the meantime, care to take a guess as to what industries or jobs you might find Invisible Persuaders working in? Hint: They’re all around us, and tend to hide in plain sight. You can find them in just about any industry, but you’re more likely to notice them in certain jobs or fields.
Just for fun, leave a comment below and tell me 1 off the top of your head.