The persuasion process | salesperson and customer

Every time you try to sell your service or product, you’re attempting to persuade someone. As a company you’re constantly attempting to persuade your customer into choosing your service or product. Every persuasive attempt is an interaction between you, as a salesperson, and your customer. Many theories regarding consumer behavior put a strong emphasis on gaining results. The perspective of the customer in this persuasion attempt is often times overlooked. What does the customer know about the product you’re trying to sell them? What does the customer know about you, as a salesperson? And last but not least, does the customer have any knowledge of persuasion, and more importantly: your attempt of persuading them? This last kind of knowledge is called persuasion knowledge. All three kinds of knowledge that were just addressed, are important factors in deciding whether your persuasion attempt will be successful. They are all part of a model that tries to describe all important factors within the interaction between salesperson and customer: the Persuasion Knowledge model.

Persuasion Knowledge model

persuasion knowledgeAs stated before, three kinds of knowledge have a key role in the process of persuasion. They are:

  1. Topic knowledge: knowledge of both the salesperson and the customer regarding the product
  2. Salesperson/Customer knowledge: knowledge that the customer has of the salesperson, and vice versa
  3. Persuasion knowledge: knowledge of different ways of persuasion

Based on these three kinds of knowledge, the salesperson decides how to persuade the customer. Three questions are asked to get to this decision: “What do I have to offer?”, “What do I know of the customer?” and “How can I persuade the customer?“.

The customer picks a coping strategy, to deal with the salesperson’s attempt to persuade him. Three similar questions are asked: “What is being offered?”, “What do I know of this salesperson?” and “How is this salesperson trying to persuade me?“.

Knowledge of the product and of each other is often easily accessible or readily available, but how’s the persuasion knowledge of both parties?

What’s the deal? | persuasion knowledge

As soon as the customer realizes that he is being persuaded, more specifically: the way in which this is being attempted, there can be a change of meaning. In this case, the persuasion attempt is no longer seen as sincere and harmless, but as a cunning and “dirty” attempt of persuasion. This negatively influences both the reputation of the salesperson, and the effectiveness of his persuasion attempt. Chances of detection of a persuasion attempt, and a negative change of meaning, increase with the use of any of the following ways of persuasion:

  • excessive use of rhetorical questions
  • denigrate other companies or products
  • incongruent product placement; showing of your product or brand in an annoying, irrelevant way in series, movies, events, etc.)
  • excessive use of compliments
  • incomplete comparisons (for example: “doing your groceries at supermarket A is cheaper than doing your groceries at supermarket B, therefore supermarket A is better”, without taking quality of the groceries into account)
  • persuasion knowledgeborrowed interest tactics; where you take something that people are interested in by their nature, and present it with your product – for example: putting a pretty lady next to the car you’re trying to sell)

In many cases, detection of a persuasion attempt has a negative effect on your reputation and persuasive ability. For both online and face-to-face persuasion attempts goes: be subtle, and don’t excessively use any of the tactics mentioned above.

Is detection of a persuasion attempt always harmful?

No, detection of a persuasion attempt doesn’t always lead to a negative change of meaning. A customer can be aware of a persuasion attempt, without a negative change of meaning happening. As soon as a customer notices the salesperson putting in a normal and expected amount of effort to sell his product or service, they assume that the salesperson must have a good product. But when the salesperson overdoes it, by excessively using persuasive tactics, the customer, aside from experiencing a negative change of meaning, can get suspicious of the product’s or service’s reliability or usability. In conclusion, what goes for persuasion is: be subtle, and be aware of how both you as a salesperson, your product, and most importantly, your methods of persuasion come across to your customers.

Persuasion Knowledge model and som digital

At som digital we know a lot about persuasion. Do you want to know more about how to successfully persuade your customers? Feel free to contact us.