Here’s a scary thought: In today’s economy, your company can do almost everything right and still go out of business. You can have a thorough business plan. You can have a beautiful website that’s responsively designed to help you gain more mobile customers. You can have all components of your marketing well integrated. You can even have a snappy, eye-catching logo.

But if you can’t get your prospects and customers to say one, simple, three letter word to themselves or out loud, you will fail and be out of business in short order. So what is this three letter word?


You have to persuade buyers to say “yes” to investing in your product or service.

Let’s look at a few ways you can get to that important commitment with your prospects and customers.

Most buyers are often hesitant to say “yes.” Chances are you’ve found this out the hard way. Why? “Yes” can be such a difficult answer to reach. Think about it. Unless you sell low-priced commodity items like groceries or gasoline, your prospects have a financial risk involved in their buying decision.

You are asking them to part with their hard-earned money. The product may not give them the results they want. In a B2C purchasing situation, they may face the wrath of an unhappy spouse. In the B2B world, they may lose their job, or their company may be at risk financially if a large purchase goes sideways.

You can bet they have their guard up. So even if they are in the market and are qualified to buy what you sell, you don’t have a slam-dunk guarantee of making the sale.

Are You Trying To Sell Steak To Vegetarians?

So what can you do to increase your chances? Enter the art and science of persuasion.

To get your buyers to commit, you have to make sure you are trying to persuade the right audience. This is critical, so please don’t skip over it. It doesn’t matter if you have a solid marketing plan, well-written, engaging content or stellar sales skills. If you are trying to reach the wrong audience, you will fail.

Here’s an absurd but compelling example: If you owned a restaurant, would you try to persuade committed vegetarians to buy your steaks and barbecue? Of course not. You  would invest your time, energy and resources trying to appeal to steak eaters.

According to legendary copywriter and direct response marketer Dan Kennedy, this is paramount to the success of your business. So once you have determined that you have a viable product or service to sell, find the audience that’s ravenously interested in it, and market your product and yourself to them. Go after the “meat eaters,” and don’t even think about trying to convert the “vegetarians.”

Focus On “Them” Not “You”

To paraphrase Dale Carnegie, talk in terms of “what they want, not what you want.” Obviously, you want them to buy from you. But they are not buying for the sake of buying, they are considering buying because they are hoping you can help them solve a frustrating problem or reach a desired goal.

Before you can convince your audience to say “yes,” you have to first gain their interest. That all starts with capturing their attention. Talking to them about what they want will help you stand out in a sea “me first” businesses.

Authenticity Above All

Here’s another crucial point: Persuasion isn’t manipulation. It’s not trying to trick your audience. It’s not “twisting their arm.” It’s helping them to do something they already want to do. The steak eater who can afford to go out and dine at a local steakhouse and has the financial means and desire to do so is going to do so somewhere. Work to persuade him to buy from you.

Your customers have to trust you. So work on building that trust. How? Be likable. Give without demanding anything in return. And demonstrate your credibility by showing case studies – actual results of what you have achieved for customers – and client testimonials on your website.

Written client testimonials leverage a powerful persuasion technique called “social proof.” This plants the notion in your prospect’s mind that, “Hey, other people like me have bought from that company and enjoyed great results. Maybe I can also!”

It has been said, and rightly so, that “selling is a transfer of emotion. The enthusiasm you have about your product and the good it can do for your potential buyer shines through when you are selling and makes your prospect more likely to buy.

The same thing is true for your written sales copy and content. To quote poet Robert Frost, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” The emotions you feel when you write your marketing messages are noticed by your reader and can actually affect their emotions. So when you are writing your marketing content, be excited! Be enthusiastic! Generate an emotional state in your reader that will generate momentum towards the sale.

Yes, momentum is crucial in the sales and persuasion process. You need to get the ball rolling and do your best to keep it rolling. A proven way to do that is to get your potential customers in the habit of saying “Yes”. In your written copy and face-to-face, ask them simple, low-commitment questions where their only natural response is to say “yes.”

Developing the sales momentum of getting them to say “yes” to little questions will make it more likely they will commit when you ask them the big question.

Continue Your Persuasion Education

I hope this article has developed your motivation to learn more about why the power of persuasion is so vital to your sales success. It’s far too big a topic to cover in one brief blog post. Want to learn more? Robert Cialdini, Ph.D’s Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion and Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People are two proven resources in the persuasion department.

And here’s a bonus to keep in mind: persuasion isn’t just a valuable business and sales skill. It’s a useful life skill. So my advice? Become a passionate student of persuasion.