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How to convince anyone to buy a product or service

Did the title shock you, or provoke a response from you in any way?

If you are a star sales performer, or are experienced within the sales industry, then you might be thinking I don't know what I'm talking about. Surely modern sales is all about providing an environment where people can buy rather than be convinced to buy something?

There was a reason I did this, I promise. About 14 months ago, I was having a conversation with a fellow sales professional, in which we discussed the increasingly negative connotations associated with the word "convince." Many industry commentators were saying sales was not about strong-arm tactics or convincing people to buy.

I agree that modern selling is about providing an environment where people buy, I was not quite sure the humble phrase deserved the negative press it was getting. Some of the definitions of the word convince are:

* Causing one to believe the truth of something

* Having a strong belief or conviction And from the Websters dictionary:

* To bring to belief, consent, or a course of action

I don't know about you, but these are some qualities I seek to bring about in my sales interactions. I definitely want people to see the truth of something, and when I do, it is with a strong belief and conviction. Of course, generally there is a requirement to bring about a course of action. That conversation sparked an idea for a little experiment that has rolled out over the last 14 months. On my blog, I wrote a post called "How to convince someone to buy from you." In it, I included one of my favourite quotes from Dale Carnegie: "There is only one way...to get anybody to do anything...And that is by making the other person want to do it."

My intention was to see what type of response the blog post would get. It didn't take long. Within days, I had received a scathing comment from a prominent sales trainer, advocating the use of pull sales tactics rather than push sales tactics (his words). I couldn't understand this personally, because surely you couldn't get much more pull than the words of Dale Carnegie. Yes, you can argue that the quote, "By making the other person," implies there is an element of underhandedness. We know that's not true because we also can refer to Dale Carnegie's other famous quote:

"Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still."

I soon discounted the opinion of this sales trainer, because a quick search on Google showed his historical article contribution was littered with push-style sales tactics.

The real lesson for me from my experiment is one I secretly expected. This blog post quickly became one of the most highly searched for blog posts. In fact, this phrase has been searched for more than twice the amount of the next popular post.

What does this tell me?

This tells me that despite our intellectual posturing over the right way to sell, which methodology to use, which new buzz phrase sales system to use, and which new ground-breaking book has cracked the sales code, the majority of salespeople out there are still searching for a way to convince someone to buy something.

My optimistic side would like to believe they are searching for a way to cause one to believe the truth about something, by having a strong conviction to bring about a positive course of action. My realistic side, however, knows differently. Many of these searches are performed as a way of trying to find that "silver bullet" or those magic phrases to close every deal, instead of trying to develop their own sales skills and professionalism.

What you can take away from this:

* If you are a true professional who acts with a strong conviction to bring about a positive outcome for you and your clients, then congratulations. Pat yourself on the back because there aren't many like you around. You deserve the rewards you get from your professionalism.

* If you are in sales management or the sales training industry, don't overlook your duty to provide the sales fundamentals to those sales people you have the power to influence. For all our intellectual posturing around acronyms, sale processes, and what is the right way, never lose sight of the fact that there are thousands of salespeople out there who only want the answer to one question:

"How can I convince someone to buy a product?" 

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