Contrary to popular opinion, human beings don’t resist change. We all, however, resist being changed.

We have no problem stretching our own comfort zone, but we each throw up our defenses the minute we are forced out of it (intentionally or otherwise) by someone else.

This subtle nuance is critical to your understanding as an entrepreneurial leader. Master persuaders recognize this fundamental truth of human behavior and get others to do what they want, while thinking that it was their idea.

Use the simple framework below and you will be well on your way to mastering the art of persuasion:

1. Understand who you’re trying to influence.

There is a universal scale of influence. Every person you know falls into one of these three categories. It is important to orient yourself not through the lens of how you perceive the relationship, but more importantly how they (their results and their ego) perceive the relationship.

The three categories your targets fall into are:

  1. Someone who you look up to.
  2. Someone who sees themselves the same as you.
  3. Someone who looks up to you.

CREDIT: Courtesy Chris J. Snook

The way you ask someone to do something has the majority of impact on whether or not you will effectively persuade them or be vigorously blocked by their innate defenses. To bring the shields down you must use specific words and style with each of these three categories to get them all to do the desired action.

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For example: Let’s assume you want them to all join the beta launch of a subscription-as-a-service for your newest product offering that solves a problem you know they have that they currently use a competitive and inferior (in your opinion) solution to solve.

2. Tell ’em what to do.

With those who look up to you, the good news is you get to “tell” them what to do. This person in your scales of influence is the friend, family member, co-worker, or follower, that when you ask them what they are doing Friday night says something akin to “I don’t know, why? What are you up to?”

They will never call you up and ask you to an event, and literally live their life unconsciously waiting for you to come along with something better than their ideas or plans to say yes to. They would never want to openly admit this and shatter the tiny bit of ego that allows them to feel like an autonomous being, but their actions will always map to following you.

Note: All this advice is predicated on my belief that you would only sell and persuade someone to do something that was in both of your best interests. You can feel completely at peace calling them up and telling them that you want them to visit your website, pull out their credit card, and sign up–and that there’s no need to thank you for changing their life. After all, you’re just being a good friend.

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3. Invite them to a V.I.P. experience.

People in our peer set see themselves as the same as us. We are no worse (give or take ten percent) and certainly no better than they are. Their identity and ego has mapped to keeping up with us or being a slight bit better off than us in their mind.

This dynamic in their conscious mind blocks them from taking our ideas with anything more than a grain of salt. After all, we are the same as them, so if they didn’t think of it, how different could it be?

In the past 20 years, I’ve learned one thing: People won’t travel across the street or put down their candy crush addiction for an “opportunity,” but they’ll fly across the world to meet someone they believe is important.

The key to influencing these people is to build up the value of the V.I.P. experience. They want and will respond to red carpet opportunities, VIP access, special meet and greets with people you have edified and celebritized. Anything that separates them from the unwashed masses.

Instead of telling them to visit a url and sign up like in the prior section, you would want to build up the value of being able to attend a special release party, open house, fireside chat with the owners, intimate and exclusive tasting party, etc. This will get them in front of the enrollment opportunity in a way that plays to their desires to feel different and position the brand as more than just a utility.

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People that know us well, trust us, but don’t respect our opinion as an expert in anything new. Build up the value of the “expert” (anyone or thing other than you that displays the value proposition), and they will hear it without a filter and take your desired action.

CREDIT: Courtesy Chris J. Snook

4. Ask ’em for their help and opinion.

Lastly, for those people that think you look up to them: Specifically present this as an opportunity to “help” you by taking a look at something with fresh eyes and give you their seasoned “opinion.”

Ask them for advice and let the product and expert do the rest. Use your enthusiasm to send up their superhero alarm where they feel like if they don’t take a look at this, they may not be able to save you from your self before you jump into something crazy with both feet again.

When they come in thinking that they are there to primarily protect you from making a potential mistake, they are listening and learning with both ears and eyes open. Their normal filter to block information will be gone and they will see it for what it is. Assuming you have a great solution or idea in front of them, they will likely feel compelled to act when you get done showing them.

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