The best leaders have technical competence in their industry along with emotional intelligence and a gift for persuasiveness. Think about it—we constantly laud CEOs for their ability to make tough decisions under pressure, especially when it comes to products and design. But do we hear much about a CEO’s ability to be persuasive? Not much. Being persuasive is absolutely critical, especially for small businesses. Small businesses are looking to make connections early on, and the failure to do so can make or break the business. That is why it is important for leaders to learn how to be persuasive and when to apply those tools.
Understand Your Target Audience
In order to persuade an individual or a group, you have to know what makes them tick. What are they interested in? What do they dislike? What kinds of arguments have persuaded them in the past? Doing this kind of research on customer segments is common place, because businesses need to know how to reach their target audience and be convincing.
It is one thing to understand your target audience, but it is another thing to build credibility with them. Building credibility looks different for each business, but generally it is about learning how to look, feel, and sound authentic to your target audience. If your target audience is seniors, for example, you wouldn’t try to reach them via social media. If your target audience is young people, you wouldn’t try to reach them through a newspaper ad. Be authentic!
Creating an emotional connection is a great way to become persuasive. This comes through the development of a narrative and a storyline about your company and your brand. How do you want other people to view your company? How are you going to get that story out there to your audience? Why should your prospective customers feel emotionally invested in your business and its success? An example could be a health friendly food store that is focused on good environmental practices crafting a narrative that appeals to vegan and vegetarian consumers.
You can learn to be persuasive, just like you can learn any other skill. It isn’t something that is innate, you aren’t born with the ability to persuade others. But it is an especially critical skill for leaders that they must master in order to reach their full potential. A great leader can persuade talented people to join their company as employees. They can persuade prospective customers to become repeat buyers. And they can persuade the skeptical news media that their products actually work and are of significant value to the public. Persuasion is a powerful tool, and leaders that wield it responsibly tend to find a greater level of success.
* Be You image credit goes to: Victor Garcia.