Business Development

The art of persuasion- What’s the best way to skin a cat?


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It’s a question I’m often asked by clients- “what’s the best way to sell an idea in a sales pitch?”.  The honest answer is, obviously, ‘It depends on who’s in the audience’ but in reality you often have to choose an influencing strategy as you start to prepare your pitch.

Most people only have one approach, and use it without thinking, and some people know a few strategies, but are more comfortable with one than the rest so they too have their ‘default’ position; which can make for an inflexible approach to sales presentations.

Three key approaches to sales presentations can be summarized as follows…

1. A motivated sequence approach- Classic sales pitch useful with trusted and trusting clients

When you have a clear plan that you believe is right and you lead your client through- Attention-getting, client-need identification, proposal plan to deliver, results focus, and direction to action.

2. A reflective/discursive approach- Great for clients that need to reach consensus together and with you, and particularly for complex projects. When you  lead your client through your thinking from problem definition through possible solutions to chosen solution, solution benefits and a final call to action.

3. Proposition to proof of proposition- Where you’ve done the thinking and the answer is clear to you and you’re convinced it’s right for the client.  Where you short-cut to your solution (proposition) then ‘prove’ it’s the right one for them in the rest of your pitch.

My advice? Choose the right sales or persuasion strategy for each opportunity depending on the quality of the relationship you have with your client, the complexity of the issue you are discussing, and the likely levels of agreement or disagreement your client team may have about the solutions.

Marjorie Brody outlines three key influencing approaches in a great deal of detail (all good!) in her post indicated below. See Marjorie’s excellent post here- Marjorie Brody | Six Minutes.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey
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