Using the Art of Persuading Customers for Business Success

“Persuasion has become a kind of force. The more the advertiser knows about what consumers want, and the more desires the product and packaging seek to fulfil, the more coercive the force” – Virginia Postrel

Businesses, especially the customer service and sales teams, constantly face challenges with convincing and persuading customers to buy the company’s offerings and do so, on a sustained basis. The reason persuasion is so hard is because each customer would have a different reason to buy or not, their business needs would be different, and their financial ‘power’ would vary. The teams responsible for customer interactions must be trained constantly and provided with the most effective techniques that would enable customers to buy from and remain with the company. Good communication skills with well written for trying to convince customers therefore content are possibly the cornerstones to persuading customers, consistently. Success at persuasion would come from understanding why customers would make certain buying decisions – it would be imperative to understand their ‘triggers’, which could be emotional or purely logical.

Anyone in business would know that emotional triggers are perhaps the top reason for customers to buy. Companies and their representatives can succeed in persuading customers to buy by showing them that they are in control – by reiterating the importance of the customer’s emotions and their ‘right to choose’. Persuasion to buy from your company would be all about reinforcing to customers that it is entirely their choice to pick one company (yours – in this case) over another because the company understands their needs. By placing control in their hands, what a company essentially displays is an understanding that customers cannot be coerced and they do have the right to say no. Smart companies use phrases and words such as “under no obligation to you” or “you are free to cancel” – indicating to the customer that it is completely their choice and nothing anyone says or does, should not force them to make any decision.

Persuading customers is all about understanding what would be most appropriate for them – what is it that they would find appropriate. What this means is that ‘umbrella’ communication is no longer advisable or effective when trying to convince customers. Every customer has their unique and individualized needs and speaks a specific ‘language’. Their businesses, experiences, knowledge base, needs, emotional triggers, situations, and other such factors are all unique to them and hence they are unlikely to be persuaded by language and ‘sales pitches’ that do not ‘speak’ to them and their needs. Every customer would interpret a company’s communication in their own way – it would make sense then to customize messages and content sent out to different customers / customer groups. As mentioned, persuading customers is an art – messages therefore must be individualized for them to make sense to a wider audience, ‘individually’.

By focusing on the pertinent needs and expectations of each customer, what a company does, is to show customers that the company is about the customer. We mentioned in an earlier exposition, that a company must speak to customers about what interests them, rather than speaking about itself and ‘how great it is’. Customer-focused messages arouse interest and leads to engagement over time. Engaged customers are more likely to form a relationship and rapport with a company, making it easier to persuade them to buy from the company. Persuading customers begins with understanding their problems, the values they stand for, the long and short-term goals of their company, and how best to make their lives easier. It is all about speaking to customers about the customer – a harmonious blend of different communication styles that would soon engage customers enough to work towards the success of the company. They would be happy to offer great reviews and referrals – two of the strongest pillars of a successful business.

Possibly the most effective method of persuading customers (or anyone) would be to build and sustain a personal connection. Customer service and sales representatives could be extremely knowledgeable and know everything about the company and its products, but this would not suffice, unless they are able to show customers how this knowledge can be used to their benefit. Product knowledge combined with the ability to resolve problems and simplify things for customers would get customers interested and would increase their ability to trust the company. Trust builds personal connections – companies that become the ‘go-to’ partner for customers, are more likely to be able to succeed at persuading customers to buy and influencing them to become loyal and brand ambassadors.

As mentioned above, a company that is able to gain the trust of its customers would be able to influence them to make decisions consistent with the trust. This would mean getting them to provide consistent and useful feedback, provide repeat business, get others to engage with the company, and remain committed to the company. With so much competition, commitment from customers is possibly one of the toughest things to earn – learning and practicing the right techniques for persuading customers could help a company stay ahead of its competitors. Customers that become committed, are more likely to accept solutions and ideas from the company and would stand by the company even in tough situations. They would even be willing to pay incrementally more for the company’s offerings because of their belief in the company. Commitment breeds consistency and loyalty in the behaviour and buying patterns of customers – this bodes well for any company. The more loyal customers it can show, the easier it would be to attract other potential customers and tap into wider markets.

Persuading customers is best done by showing them the benefits and advantages they can gain from the company’s products and the association. By doing so, company representatives would not need to push from a selling perspective – as this is a complete put-off for customers. Every message from a ‘desperate’ company would seem to ‘sell’, which in turn could lead to customers and prospective ones, turning away and leaving for good. What a company and its representatives must ensure is to use any inhibitions and apprehensions of the customer, by showing them how the offerings can simplify those very problems and ‘objections’. Illustrating the advantages of the company and its products, is a subtle yet potent way of persuading customers in your favour – possibly for life. However a company approaches its customers, it must be remembered that post the initial sale and interaction, customers should be able to see consistently good service and have happy experiences. This consistency would reflect commitment from the company to address their needs, which in turn would retain these customers and persuade them to convince others too.

As mentioned, customers like to feel important and special. Hence, each time a customer makes a purchase the company must thank them and if possible give them a token of their appreciation through freebies, discounts, incentives, or other such attractive offers. This could help in persuading customers to make large purchases in the future and divert business from other sources, to the company as well. Customers appreciate being taken care of and would be happy to reciprocate in any way possible. It would be a smart move to talk about your customers via social media too – this is social proof not only of the ‘niceness’ of your customers, but also a way to indirectly speak well of your company too.

Persuading customers may not be an easy task but with concerted effort and time, keeping in mind their best interests, a company would get them to start an association and stay with the company for a long time.

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