There are a lot of skills that might make you a great entrepreneur -- passion, ambition, work ethic, etc. But one of the most important factors in your business success is your how well you can persuade other people. Making sales, forging business partnerships and even hiring employees is all about being able to convince other people that your company is worth their investment, whether it's time, money, or both.
If you're not a naturally charismatic and persuasive person, don't panic: Like any other skill, you can practice and improve your ability to persuade. Below, eight entrepreneurs share their top tips for becoming more persuasive.
Understand what motivates your audience.
No matter how large or small your audience is, knowing what will motivate them to take action is essential for effective persuasion, says Justin Faerman, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Conscious Lifestyle Magazine.
"Put yourself in their shoes," he recommends. "What are their dreams, desires, struggles and frustrations? When you know these, you can get anyone to do anything."
Talk about needs they didn't know they had.
According to Rachel Beider, CEO of PRESS Modern Massage, clients typically feel that most of their needs are already being met. You become more persuasive when you can discuss needs a client didn't even know they had.
"People make a lot of decisions based on fear and uncertainty, and when you introduce the concept that there are unconsidered needs, you might win someone over," she adds.
Share a story.
Storytelling is essential in sales and marketing. That's why Colbey Pfund, co-founder of LFNT Distribution, believes that having a story to tell can make you more persuasive.
"Knowing where we came from and why we do what we do is important," he says. "It shows your passion and where you want to go, and it gives people a way to relate. I approached everyone with what I brought to the table, how I got started and why I thought it was so important."
Practice persuasive writing.
Most people think of persuasion in terms of a face-to-face conversation or sales pitch. Before you state your case verbally, Codie Sanchez, managing partner at Cresco Capital Partners, suggests writing down your thoughts and critically analyzing them to improve your argument.
"When you spread your words across a page, sit with them, analyze how they flow together and read them aloud, you can't help but perfect them," she explains. "This labor-intensive process pay dividends when the right words paint the pictures you need others to see."
Learn to adapt to the personalities of your targets.
Matthew Capala, founder and managing director of Alphametic, believes in being adaptable when trying to persuade someone. It's important to play to the individual's personality type and consider how their world view might impact the way they perceive your pitch.
For example, if you're speaking with an analytical person, he recommends pitching the numbers and data. If the person is socially driven, they want to like you, so try to forge an emotional connection with them. "There is no one-size-fits-all in sales," Capala adds.
Establish common ground with your audience.
Being relatable is important if you want to be persuasive, says John Turner, founder of SeedProd LLC. When you build a friendly rapport and establish common ground, your audience is more willing to listen and buy from you.
"Many people are wary of listening to and buying from a stranger. Find something you have in common and connect over it," Turner says. "Ask questions to help uncover common ground."
Use your track record to support your argument.
While persuasion is certainly about the words you choose, it's also about your history of success. When you combine concrete arguments with a strong track record, you don't need to go out of your way to persuade people, explains Nicole Munoz of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
"Actions speak louder than words, so make your record of actions carry the weight for you," she says.
Show your passion and confidence.
Sometimes, your own excitement and belief in what you're selling or doing can be the most persuasive argument of all.
"If you can show your authentic passion for what you are pitching, people are a lot more likely to buy in," says Kasey Kaplan, founder of KWK Studio. "In a world where everyone has a lot of choices, energy, passion and non-verbals go a long way to convince people what you're pitching is right for them."