Influence: How to Persuade Anyone In Business to Do What You Want

10-Point Plan: Train Self-Managing Teams with an Outstanding Bias Toward Quality

Communication Through Persuasion


The best executive team I was ever a part of was 8 people who knew their jobs — none of us were experts in the jobs of the others but the team worked highly efficiently with sincere commitment and we followed a principle we called the “Persuade Me” form of leadership. It looked something like this …

I may not know anything about the new phone system you want to introduce into the building, but I’m an intelligent, thinking person, who knows how to make a good decision. So, persuade me that this is the right one.

No matter the question, the problem, or the innovation that was put before us. We sat ready to listen to the reasoning that would move us to understand why we should champion its cause.

How to Get Anyone In Business to Do Whatever You Want

Whether we’re a consultant, a freelancers, an entry level employee a C-Suite executive, the work we do has to move something forward for us it to benefit us and our customers. Sometimes that means getting the people who work alongside us and the people who sign our paychecks to take our advice as to what needs to be done.

If you want to get people do what you want, it’s matter of persuasion. Whether you’re looking to move a huge organization or get someone to sponsor a small event or project you’re planning, persuasion is the key to positive action. Persuasion is a strategy that requires these steps.

  • Know your audience. It’s hard to persuade someone you’ve never met and know nothing about. Understand what moves them and what worries them. Get inside their needs, wants, and desires.
  • Ask about their short-term goals and restate what you’re hearing as you listen. As people tell you what they’re trying to accomplish, clarify your understanding by restating what they’re saying in your own words. So if I’m hearing you right that means you want to … Define scenarios that might achieve what they’re shooting to make happen.
  • Ask about possible obstacles to their goals. Let them keep talking until you fully understand what they’re facing and truly want to help them get where they want to go. Learn about their process and how decisions are made. Find out who needs to be “sold” for a new idea to be adopted.
  • Suggest that you might help them by aligning their goals with your own. Offer your idea, project, or plan in the context of how it will benefit them. Point to the goal and the possible obstacles they’ve mentioned, then show how your suggestion will remove the obstacles and move them toward their goal.
  • Explain how your plan, project, or idea works for them. Focus on the benefits not what you love, but what makes sense to their situation. Champion those benefits with all of the passion that drew you to idea or project from the start.
  • Ask how you might make the two work together even better. Suggest that they discuss how well the idea might work over time with their coworkers, how it might need to be changed, and whether it needs outside input. Allow them to add or remove content or pieces. Do we need to make it smaller or larger to get the right kind of attention? Do we need to bring anyone else to keep things going?
  • Build a strategy on how to introduce them to the larger group. Discuss how easily you and they might be able to persuade peers and paycheck signers to participate. Step back and let them own the process while you talk. Should we offer training? a meeting? Shall we propose a proof of concept to demonstrate and measure the validity and success?

Those who best navigate a business culture are those who know that persuasion works better than confrontation. It’s important to stand for your values and to champion your expertise, but the presentation can be softer than an all on debate.

People like to be in on the thinking and to know that what we’re proposing benefits everyone, not just the person proposing it. So whether it’s a ReTweet, a budget cut, a new product idea, or a complete renovation of the operation, it works best if we reach out knowing that the folks we’re speaking to are

“intelligent, thinking people, who may not know anything about the intricacies of what we’re proposing, but who knows how to make a good decision.” So the job is to persuade them with facts, logic, and humanity that what we’re doing is something they want to be doing too.

How do you persuade your clients, customers, bosses, employees, vendors, and volunteers that what you what is worth doing?

READ the Whole 10-Point Plan Series: On the Successful Series Page.

Be Irresistible.

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!

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  1. Amy Knapp, Legal BizDev Consultant says

    Ever read Spin Selling? This is a version of that 4-step process which is all about listening, drawing out, validating assumptions and then aligning your solutions with (the decision-maker’s) needs.

    • says

      Hi Amy!
      No, I’ve not read it, but it sure sounds like a book I’d like to find. The only place I like to negotiate is from the same side of the table. So it sounds just up my alley. Thanks for recommending it!

  2. says

    Once upon a time I worked in a retail store that relied on high pressure sales tactics. I hated it. It wasn’t until much later (in a B2B context) that I discovered that actually CONNECTING with prospects (humour, empathy, curiosity – y’know HUMAN stuff) actually HELPS the sales cycle. Of course you know this. I’d somehow been trained to believe the opposite.

    Now selling is a lot easier. I show up fully, listen carefully, and look for the ways I can bring the most value to the situation. A lot like your outline above. Part of the deal for me is being willing to walk away – to accept when it’s simply not the right fit… for now. That takes the pressure off, which lets me show up even more fully.

    BTW – someone taught me a valuable lesson about the difference between “pressure” and “tension.”

    PRESSURE is external – ie: a high pressure sales pitch ala Glengarry Glenross. I don’t do pressure. Just not my thing.

    TENSION is internal. It’s what your prospect experiences inside as they weigh the decision to move forward with you or not. That kind of tension is a good thing. It drives change. Increasing my capacity to “be with” that tension in a client has been rewarding on multiple levels.

    Great post Liz. Thanks for asking :)

  3. says

    It’s so much common sense that it has to work!
    Restating what you’re hearing is a great tip because we forgot this so easily. We all know that people always communicate in the context of their specific “mental coordinate system” but it is so easy to forget and to assume that they mean what we are hearing. Thanks for reminding!

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