The Power of Persuasion
By Bridger Pennington
Let’s talk about the power of persuasion when pitching investors, pitching partners, or even pitching other people to join your team. Before that, I want to tell you about a show my wife and I recently watched on Netflix called ‘The Push’.
It was recommended to us by a friend. Essentially, there is this producer, Derren Brown, who is exceptionally good at social experiments. He goes out and will set up intricate experiments with tons of people in both public and private settings.
The purpose of his experiments is to see if a person can be manipulated by social compliance, or if they will take a stance against the majority/crowd and follow their moral compass.
In this episode I watched, the premise is- that in 90 minutes, an innocent civilian can be influenced to commit murder through social pressure. It’s called ‘The Push’ because the objective is to get this innocent person to push somebody off a ledge in 90 minutes.
It’s all staged, other than the random innocent civilian who is progressively pressured, passively at first, to comply with the group and do things that he/she normally wouldn’t do. The demands by everyone get greater and greater until the random civilian is put in a situation where pushing someone else off of the bridge is the best possible outcome for everyone.
Crazy right?! Derren conducted this experiment with four different people. Three of the four actually pushed the guy off the ledge.
The reason I want to bring this up is that you can pretty much convince somebody of anything in 90 minutes with just the right tools, the right techniques, the right social conditions and pressure.
Obviously, I don’t think we should be using social tricks or techniques to get someone to commit murder… But is demonstrates a point.
This producer has essentially proven you can convince someone of murder in 90 minutes. I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me saying, “Bridger, I can’t pitch investors,” or ” the partners don’t want to join up with me. I just don’t do a good job at persuading people.”
People can always be influenced. And there are always things that me and you can do to be a better salesman. There is an incredible feeling that comes with being able to walk into a room and to change someone’s mind.
If you look at most deals that happen in our industry, you will start to see this game being played on around you.
The negotiation process is all a game; most of it is not just zeros and ones either. It comes down to being able to understand and display emotion.
As humans, we’re all incredibly emotional beings and the better we can understand the psychology behind ourselves and others, the better we can persuade people to take a deal at 10% discount or to buy our deal at a 10% premium. Right?
When we understand emotions, we can convince partners to come in and join us. Some people naturally have this gift of charisma or persuasion, whatever you want to call it- natural sales gene- and some people really must work on it.
The beautiful thing about it, is that something that can be learned.
This is something I personally need to get better at. But one book that has helped me immensely, especially regarding how to raise money is, ‘Flip The Script; by Oren Klaff.
It’s incredible. The book talk about how to ‘give a pitch’. Oren is professional pitchmam; he will fly to Europe or Asia or California or wherever to do professional pitches, to get people to land deals for their company. These deals are typically anywhere from $20 to $50 million each!
Oren approaches sales with the mindset that the customer already wanted to do it, but he is just helping them through it. I think true salesmanship isn’t pulling, dragging a person into a sale, it is convincing people or persuading people to do something they already want to do.
Instead of perceiving yourself as a salesman, look at yourself as a consultant. You’re helping consult a person on what’s the best course of action for their future. And sometimes people just need someone to walk them through it.
And that is what you are there for.
I think in general; we can always do better. When pitching, when finding partners and investors, we can always sharpen the ax. Don’t let yourself off and just say, “I don’t have the sales gene. I’m just not naturally good at that. I can’t persuade people.”
If this guy on ‘The Push’ can convince somebody to go from zero to murder in 90 minutes, I think all of us could be a little more methodical and detail oriented in creating a convincing pitch, presentation, or close.
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