Do This One Thing and You’ll Persuade More People

I was recently in the market for a CRM so I signed up for a 30 day trial.  After kicking the tires for a few weeks I received a call from “Mike”.  Here’s Mike:

“Hi Josh, this is Mike with ACME CRM.  How are you doing today?”

Me: “Great Mike.  How are you?”

Mike: “Doing well Josh. The reason I’m calling is to see if you had any questions about ACME CRM.” 

Me: “Nope, no questions Mike.”

Mike: “Good to hear.  Hey I wanted to let you know that since it’s the end of the year, we’re running a promotion that will give you 15% off the annual license.  But you need to sign up before the end of the month.”

Using Urgency Can Make You Less Persuasive

Mike wants to move the sale along by creating urgency.    But creating urgency can sometimes make you retreat if you feel that your ability to choose freely is being restricted, a psychology barrier known as reactance.

For instance if someone tells you that you can’t have sushi, you want it more because your choice is being restricted.  To get your freedom back you might decide to get sushi anyway.

Behavioral Scientists Nicolas Gueguen and Alexandre Pascual studied how to overcome reactance.  In the study the researchers dressed as panhandlers and asked for money.  When the “panhandlers” ended their request with “you’re free to accept or refuse”, reactance was reduced and donations increased by 400%.

Giving People Permission to Say No can Make You More Persuasive

How Does This Apply To Selling?

Let’s use the tactic of giving people permission to say no and apply it to Mike’s request.

Before (no freedom)

“Hey I wanted to let you know that since it’s the end of the year, we’re running a promotion that will give you 15% off the annual license.  But you need to sign up before the end of the month. “

After (freedom)

Hey I wanted to let you know that since it’s the end of the year, we’re running a promotion this month that will give you 15% off the annual license.  This is our biggest promotion of the year that you can take advantage of if you’d like.”  

Giving me permission to say no makes Mike’s request more persuasive.

Example: Using “Permission to say No” to Persuade In a Cold Email

Here’s an example of giving people permission to say no that you can use in a cold email:

Hi John,

I’m a sales growth advisor to early stage technology companies.  I’ve helped companies such as a, b and c get a steady flow of demos scheduled within 30 days using lesser known scrappy outbound tactics.

Feel free to say no if you don’t see a fit, but allow me to ask, is this something that sounds interesting? (Hat tip to Blaire Enns for this phraseology.)

~Josh

Understand the “Why” to Be More Persuasive

Pro Tip: An even better approach would be for Mike to understand why  I’m not moving forward.  By offering a discount, Mike assumes the reason I’m not moving forward is about money.

But my hesitation may have nothing to do with money.  Perhaps I need more licenses for others on my team.  Or maybe I’m concerned with paying the annual fee up front.  Or the level of support I’m getting. Maybe I’m stuck because the decision maker is on vacation. (Timing objections have nothing to do with price.)

Here’s a question that would allow Mike to learn more while still giving me a choice:

Josh, would it make sense for me to see if we do something different for you if we can get things buttoned up by the end of the month?”  (Hat tip to James Muir, the author of The Perfect Close.)

The phrase “something different” is vague by design.  It allows you to peel the onion back and understand the “why”.  It also piques curiosity.

Let’s play this out a bit.  Here’s me:

“Something different?  What do you mean Mike?”

Mike: “Well typically when my customers didn’t move forward it’s was due to one of the following three reasons:  One, they haven’t been able to connect with someone that needs to weigh in,  two, they’re concerned they don’t have enough licenses or three, they don’t want to pay the entire fee up front.  Do any of those reasons resonate with you Josh?”

Me: “Actually I’m using a free CRM right now and don’t know if it’s worth switching.”

Clearly a 15% discount isn’t going to help.  From here Mike can learn about my desired outcomes and how I’m doing things today so he could determine if his solution makes sense.

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