But with gentle persuasion all that is required is the ability to effectively communicate what is best for the customer, that is, to do business together.
Certain steps taken by people in sales can help improve their ability to be persuasive, according to one sales book.
Gene Bedell's 3 Steps To Yes: The Gentle Art of Getting Your Way takes a psychological and principled approach to selling ideas, products and services. Bedell explains the three-step plan and provides 21 gentle persuasion habits that can be woven into any sales process.
"To persuade gently, you mustn't think in terms of winning or imposing your will," Bedell explains. "Instead, you must think of persuasion as effective communication."
Bedell says that forced persuasion does not work because people react not to just what is being offered to them but also to the persuasive force behind it. "When you push them, their natural reaction is to resist, to push back," he explains. "When people know you're trying to persuade them, the harder you push, the harder they resist."
First, identify and fulfill the customer's needs, he says. In the book he lists 14 basic needs that most people have, including wealth, recognition, and winning. These needs must be taken into consideration when developing a sales proposal.
"Don't underestimate people's need for security, predictability, and low risk," he says. "Make your proposals as risk-free as possible."
Credibility is a key factor in persuasiveness, the book says. Three characteristics that must be displayed for credibility include perceived competence, trustworthiness and "the extent to which you seem to put other people's interests at least equal to your own," Bedell says.
And to communicate effectively, Bedell says, one has to remember that most people are "me-centered."
An effective way to gain their attention is to use their name and the word "you," he explains. A salesperson might open with a story that relates to the customer and then follow-up with, "let me tell you about our firm," to attract interest.
To develop a "personal position," or elevator speech, Bedell has created guidelines designed to succinctly and intelligently communicate what the salesperson's target message is.
Using ambiguous terms, unique descriptors, and reasons of distinction, Bedell says to craft this message in 50 words or less. Without bragging, "describe yourself, your ideas, and your services in terms of your listener's personal needs."
Supporting evidence of any claims must also be provided during the sales process to provide credibility.
"Telling isn't selling," Bedell concludes. "Collect evidence and references and weave them into a credible substantiating story that proves your claims."