Need to convince clients or suppliers to complete a task? Provide this one, persuasive thing, and they may just take swift action.
At the end of each check-up, every dentist I’ve ever known has said to me, ‘It’s important to floss everyday’. I nod solemnly, cross my fingers, utter something about how I’ll get started immediately, and run home to eat chocolate.
I mean, I agree that flossing is important, it just takes forever because my teeth are so tightly packed. The process leads to frustration and tiredness for the floss, and exasperation and boredom for me.
But, I saw a new dentist last month, and something very strange happened. At the end of the clean and polish, I braced myself for the Ted Talk on flossing. But instead, he provided just one thing that persuaded me to floss forever.
What was it?
Specific, compelling information.
You see, previously, all dentists provided general information relating to decay prevention. It’s stuff I’d heard before, knew was important, and ignored with ease.
But this dentist painted a clear, compelling picture with specific information: ‘There’s a type of bacteria that doesn’t need light to survive, so they burrow down into the roots and can create real problems. Flossing can keep that bacteria at bay.’
Being a visual person, I immediately imagined my mouth full of Gollum-like bacteria hacking away at my gums with bread knives, blunt sickles and slivers of gangrenous tooth.
Ever since that day, flossing has become part of my nightly routine: Netflix and floss, Netflix and floss. Well, almost. Sometimes the floss is located almost a metre away, and it’s impossible to get up, I mean, I’m not an elite athlete.
Persuade people to fulfill a task
There are countless business situations where you require people to undertake a task, so persuade them by providing compelling, specific information that will inspire action.
Practical example 1
A big annoyance for service providers such as graphic designers, copywriters and web developers is waiting for clients to provide feedback on the work provided.
Instead of writing this general instruction in your email: ‘Please provide feedback within 7 business days’, consider writing something compelling and specific that relates to your personal situation.
‘Thank you for providing feedback by 7 October. Providing feedback by this date ensures we’ll meet the agreed deadline for your project. As you know, I work with several clients simultaneously. All projects are at different stages, but all are planned meticulously so that every client has their needs and deadlines met. If for some reason the feedback isn’t received by the due date, unfortunately your deadline will be pushed out by several days or possibly even weeks. Thank you for your understanding, and I look forward to feedback by 7 October. We’re making excellent progress so far, and the end result will be amazing!’
By providing this compelling and specific information upfront, you reduce the need to have a difficult conversation later.
Practical example 2
A website I visited had three words next to a product description – a product I wanted to buy. The words were in in red, and they signalled danger: ‘Only 2 left’.
That type of information forces people to act because not only is it specific, but scarcity prompts action, making it compelling too.
Don’t be afraid of being persuasive!
Wherever appropriate, don’t be afraid to include specific, compelling information to help boost your powers of being persuasive. Sometimes it might be the most insignificant detail that leads to the most significant results.
Must dash, I have to floss!
What are your thoughts? Got any further tips on being persuasive?