Elite AgentOPINION

Powers of persuasion

The power of persuasion is a valuable skill for real estate agents to have in their toolbox. Michelle Bowden explains precisely how to build your persuasive skills and make others take notice.

When was the last time you had to persuade someone?

Was it this morning when your children forgot to make their beds or needed to do their homework?

Maybe you needed to ask a landlord for something, or resolve a problem with a service provider?

Maybe it was a pitch to a potential vendor?

From one day to the next, despite the huge number of times we need to ask someone for something, most of us don’t think of ourselves as ‘persuaders’.

Most people think of persuasion as something for people in politics or the United Nations.

Maybe you think persuasion is for lawyers and talent agents, people like Tom Cruise’s character (the sports celebrity agent in Jerry Maguire) shouting “show me the money!” 

If you think about it, we persuade people every day. 

When we need or want something we must get the attention, the support and the endorsement of our families, our stakeholders, our staff, our suppliers, and our clients.

Persuasion is pervasive, whether we are conscious of it or not and regardless of the name we give it.

So what is persuasion?

Persuasion is the ability to alter or sway an individual’s thoughts, beliefs, or actions. 

When you understand the process of persuasion, you’ll know how to maximise your power moments (the moments in a relationship or interaction when you are best able to get what you want), while creating and maintaining trust.

First-rate persuaders achieve their objectives while building and then maintaining trust, rapport and respect.

There’s nothing cheap, manipulative or underhanded about effective persuasion.

It’s an ethical process that relies upon integrity, trust and long-term relationships.

Successful people know how to persuade

The more successful entrepreneurs I meet, the more I realise that – regardless of their intelligence and business acumen, their first-rate products or service, and irrespective of their commitment to their business – these successful people have one thing in common. 

They know how to present their ideas in a compelling, persuasive and memorable way.

They know how to structure their thoughts, how to connect with people, and they say what they want to say in a way that resonates.

They inspire and compel people to take action, and they often get what they want.

Anyone can be a master persuader  

And the good news is that in my experience, as someone who has trained many, many thousands of people in this area over much of the past two decades, anyone can learn how to influence others. 

It’s just a matter of knowing what to do and doing it.

Here are seven tips to fast-track your persuasive power:

1. Believe in yourself  

The saying goes: “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

The mindset of knowing you will reach an agreement requires you to eliminate all negativity from your environment.

No matter how the stakeholder responds, keep it light and maintain a can-do attitude throughout the persuasion.

When you let negative thoughts occupy your mind, there is only one outcome, and it’s not good. 

2. Plan effectively

Work out what you want and make sure your desired outcome also serves the needs of your stakeholder.

3. Know your audience

First-rate persuaders truly believe they can satisfy the stakeholder’s needs.

They see the benefits, features, and limitations of their product, service or request from their stakeholder’s view.

They weigh things on the stakeholder’s scale of values, not their own. 

4. Prepare your message

It’s critical to identify and understand the impact and diversity of different strategies and styles available and the impact they have.

In general, an effective persuasion process generally has an opening that builds rapport, a middle that asserts your perspective, and a close where you call your stakeholder to action.

5. Build rapport

Rapport, rapport, rapport.

Before you can persuade others, you must build rapport with them.

We like people who are like ourselves.

So, from the first word you say, make sure your voice, body and language patterns reflect the similarities between you and your stakeholder, rather than the differences. 

6. Connect through eye contact and smiling

Connect with the audience with your eyes and mouth.

When it’s time to influence, stop focussing on yourself and look at them in the ‘whites of their eyes’.

Really see them, whether it be one person or 1000 people.

Smile authentically while you’re at it.

Professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University Alicia Grandey’s smiling research in 2005 found a direct correlation between authentic smiles and an increase in persuasion.

Conversely, she also found the more inauthentic the smile, the less effective the persuasion.

7. Ask for what you want

People are not mind-readers.

Be explicit when asking them for the thing you want and be sure to articulate the next steps clearly.

Depending on the scale of your persuasion, it can be really important that you get your agreed outcome in writing.

In some cases, you need to assertively get the ‘yes’ from your stakeholder out loud.

Take a pen to important persuasion situations so you can write important things down and even sign them if necessary.

You can do it

Remember, it doesn’t matter how good your business is, how good your products or services are, how good your ideas are, or how good your message is if no one’s listening. 

Anyone can be a first-rate persuader – learn what to do and do it.

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Michelle Bowden

Michelle Bowden is Australia's expert on presenting persuasively in business. She's a best-selling, internationally published author of How to Present: the ultimate guide to presenting your ideas and influencing people using techniques that actually work. For more information visit michellebowden.com.au