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personal persuasion

Feb 28, 2008
In all cultures there are certain rules and norms which citizens are expected to adhere to. This is particularly true in "polite society" and business contexts. And while I appreciate the value of rules and norms as a guideline, I always felt some were meant to be bent, if not broken entirely.

"Professional decorum" dictates that we don't get too personal with our clients and prospects. But I truly believe that the people we work with and sell to are really craving that personal touch.

Adding storytelling to your business interactions is one way to build and keep amazing relationships that will last a lifetime.

One of my favorite ways to create fast and powerful rapport is to start with the following statement: "Let me share a secret with you. . ." A secret? I like secrets. They're exciting. And doesn't the word 'secret' sort of compel you to want to know more? Sharing a secret with someone makes them feel special.

When you work 'secrets' and personal anecdotes into your rapport building, you increase the amount of and the speed with which your prospects begin to trust you. Of course, keep it within reason. You want these stories to be pointed and geared toward the matter at hand (i.e. what you're selling).

I share personal stories when I'm teaching. I will often open up about mistakes I made as a young man just beginning in sales and figuring out the world of persuasion the hard way, when sometimes honesty and integrity were not at the top of my list of priorities. These are tough lessons which I wish I didn't have to learn and which I'm not proud of. And relating them is difficult because they are blotches on my personal integrity which embarrass me. And yet, having overcome these and having learned from my past, I tell these stories to illustrate to my students what *not* to do as they begin to persuade.

When I get into the more personal aspects of teaching like this, I also make sure to step outside of the first person and enter into a meta state to explain how this personal storytelling can really be an art. When you think about it, you can be an artist at nearly anything. You can be an artist at creating amazing friendships. You can be an artist in business. You can be an artist of persuasion. Some of our creativity within certain arenas is natural. . . we've got it to start with and we can make magical things happen as a result of it. Other things are learned. I wasn't born the persuader I am today. I have put years and years into my art and each and every day I wake up and realize what all that hard work has done for me.

My suggestion. . . find a personal story that relates to your business and start relating it to your prospects and clients. Watch how this quickens rapport and trust by magnitudes. We all crave a good story.
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches techniques to earn the business of affluent prospects using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion techniques.
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