Bestselling Author Daniel H. Pink's 4 Strategies to Help You Persuade Better and Sell More

December 7, 2020 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For entrepreneurs, sales mean life — our sales directly impact our livelihood and ability to provide for others. Our ability to sell or persuade people on an idea (e.g., kids eating their broccoli) determines our effectiveness in the role we play. Therefore, becoming a more extraordinary salesperson and a better persuader should be for everyone. 

Related: Why Being Persuasive is More Important than Having a Great Idea

The best businesses do something for the world

For the last few decades, the term “servant leadership” has led and reminded us that outstanding leadership empowers and equips others to embrace and accomplish their full potential.

Daniel H. Pink, author of bestsellers like DriveA Whole New Mind and To Sell is Human, has suggested that in the way many of us understand leadership synonymously with servant leadership, we must also understand selling as synonymous to servant selling.

He told me, “The presumption is either you run a business or do something good. I don’t believe that! The best businesses do something for the world. We have this belief that for me to win, you have to lose. But that’s rarely the case. I think it’s wrong morally and analytically.”

I drew four insights and strategies from our conversation, which can help lead to more powerful persuasion and more outstanding sales.

Related: Servant Leadership Is a Philosophy, Not a Checklist

1. Remember your business is good

One of the fundamental strategies to better persuasion and sales is first to remember why you are doing what you’re doing and what you’re selling.

You most likely started your business to provide something, whether a product or service, to fill a gap in people’s lives. You wanted in some way to make their life better. Good. Remember that.

Your product or service makes lives better, so persuade and sell with confidence and a good conscience.

2. Think like a scientist

When I learn new things, I can get overwhelmed by the multitude of insights, tactics and strategies. So I asked Pink how to know which option to choose. He told me, “Think like a scientist … you have to say, ‘I have a hypothesis, I think this frame will work, but let me test it out.'”

Just as scientists test and prove their hypotheses, so should entrepreneurs test their marketing. Say you have two approaches for your next big sales presentation or marketing plan, but you don’t know which one to choose. Why not spend some more time to test out your different approaches? It could be as simple as asking your family or friends. Just find some neutral people you can experiment with.

When I launch a new product, one of the first things I do is create a survey and send it to friends and people I know that I’d ideally like to work with. It helps me get an idea of what’s connecting with people and also what I may be missing or blind to.

3. Use social proof

When you hear the term “social proof,” what do you think of? I think of brand names and logos plastered over a company’s website. But social proof is more than that. Social proof is anything that proves to your audience that you share something in common and part of a common tribe that affirms what you are selling.

When persuading someone, whether a client or a prospective mentor, try to bring in social proof to your conversation. Mention how someone they know just recently invested in your product or service. Appeal to their relational and social instinct: When they know someone in their tribe trusts you, they’ll be more more likely to trust you, too. 

If you’re trying to get someone to become your mentor, mention how you’ve spoken with or are friends with someone they consider a peer. Just make sure it’s actually true.

4. Focus on one word

“When I say ‘Google,'” Pink asked me, “what word comes to mind? And when I say ‘search,’ what word comes to mind?”

When starting a company, developing or redeveloping a brand, a helpful exercise is to find your “one-word.” What is that one word that describes your product or service? Is it “search,” “marketing,” “paper?”

If you have difficulty honing your one-word down, simply ask some friends, your clients, or other people. Ask them what word comes to mind when they think about the business.

Sometimes we want ourselves or our business to be something that we are not. The sooner we can get over that and embrace who we are, the more clearly our clients will be able to see us, and the more confidence they will have to buy from us.

Whatever word you find, become that word and embody that word.

Related: You’re Not Actually Bad at Sales: 3 Ways to Gain More Confidence

A better servant seller

Sales and marketing are for everyone. It’s for budding entrepreneurs, organizational leaders and parents who want their kids to eat broccoli.

If our intentions are pure and our product is good, then we don’t only have the right but the obligation to become a better seller. Remember: Your business, your sales and your persuasion are not merely a means to a personal end; it is an act of service to another, others and the world. 

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