8 Persuasion techniques that actually work (backed by research)

Persuasion is a skill that will make your life so much easier. And do you know why?

persuasion techniques, persuasion

Because if you want to succeed you must be able to connect with other people.

You must be able to work with brilliant people.

And you must be able to attract as many people as possible to buy your product.

In this article, I have captured a list of the most effective persuasion techniques. But, I haven’t included the 6 weapons of influence by Robert Cialdini.

The reason is that I explained them in other articles.

1. Become an expert

Since we were kids, we learned to rely on authority figures for sound decision making.

Authorities such as parents and teachers are not only the primary source of wisdom while we grow up but they also had control over us. That’s why we’ve been taught to believe that respect for authority is a moral virtue.

As adults, it’s easy for us to transfer that respect to society’s authorities such as doctors, police officers, bosses…

We assume their positions give them special access to information and power.

You will encounter resistance if people doubt you’re an expert on the solution or idea you’re selling. But, if they perceive you as a competent and trustworthy person, they will do what you ask them to do.

In a research paper from Eric Jaso stated

“In the study, salespersons with high expertise attempted to sell nutraceuticals to customers. The study revealed that the consumers who felt the salespersons were competent were more likely to purchase the nutraceuticals.”

In addition, another study from Cunningham (2008) showed that athletes were better representatives of the energy bars that were the actors.

For example, a well-known athlete is a more good endorser for Gatorade than a television actor.

So, how can you establish credibility and expertise?

– The quickest way is to show your credentials.

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For example, when you enter someone’s office you see that their wall is decorated with degrees and awards. And that can make you trust him/her more.

But make sure to not tell your prospect about your degrees or awards because it can make you appear arrogant.

And remember the second rule, your qualifications should match the product you’re selling.

If you’re selling software, the literature degree won’t help your credibility.

– Hang out with other experts.

When you associate yourself with other experts, it will make people perceive you as an expert. Attend different events and get to know and connect with those people.

Create a website and write helpful articles about the topic you like. You can also increase your online presence by joining Quora. It’s a perfect place to share advice.

2. Likability- The magic bullet

We have seen many celebrities advertising a product, but they aren’t really experts, they’re just paid to say what others tell them to say.

Why do their endorsements sell so many products?

The reason is that we like them. And, more importantly, we trust people we like.

Likability is a crucial part of persuasion.

Trying to understand what makes someone likable is a complex matter, but there are some basic rules.

For example, we prefer highly attractive people, to a disturbing extent.

Various studies have shown that we perceive physically attractive people as smarter, stronger, successful, and with higher moral character.

All of this based only on their physical appearance.

We’re more prone to like and trust people we know personally. A 1999 News poll from CBS showed that 85% of the respondents expected the people which they know personally to be fair.

In addition, experiments by Dr Jerry Burger showed that we’re more likely to comply with a request by someone who shares a birthday, or a first name.

Salespeople, of course, know this trick. Why do you think they often have a friend from your hometown, or children the age of yours?

3. How to win an argument?

Every argument has two sides, even if sometimes we hate to admit it.

Whether you are arguing online or offline, you can notice that people tend to think their side of the argument is the only alternative.

They only talk about the benefits of their idea/product. And it might scare them to point out a weakness in their ideas.

We tend to choose the safest course which is presenting only our side, otherwise, we risk losing traction.

But, does this approach works?

Daniel O’keefe from The University of Illinois did a meta-analysis of over 100 studies to see which is more persuasive, one-sided arguments or two-sided arguments?

He concluded that two-sided arguments were more persuasive than one-sided arguments, but only when they provided counter-arguments.

When you talk about the benefits of a particular action, accept that there might be some drawbacks but then offer counter-arguments that minimize the effect of drawbacks.

You’re basically overcoming objections before they even raise them.

4. Fear

Fear is our old friend. It has helped us survive for so long in an unforgiving environment.

At the same time, fear is a very persuasive tool.

Many politicians use fear to influence people.

A study showed that politicians can use fear to manipulate the public into supporting policies they might otherwise oppose.

Manipulation is more likely to happen when the public doesn’t fully understand the issue or can’t overcome the fear instilled by the politician.

We also need to understand that using too much fear can backfire.

Many anti-smoking campaigns terrify people as a way of convincing them to quit. But that seems to make things worse.

Many ad campaigns tried to persuade people by stating the dangers of obesity. But that didn’t have the desired impact.

So, the best way is to use fear combined with a clear solution.

If you want to persuade someone to be healthy, give some scary facts about obesity and then show him a step-by-step guide on losing weight.

5. Inoculation – Persuading people to avoid persuasion

Inoculation is a technique used to make people immune to persuasion attempts by first exposing them to small arguments against their position.

In medical immunization, weakened forms of viruses are injected into the body, which triggers the production of antibodies in response.

Later, when exposed to the stronger version of the virus, the body will know how to respond.

Attitude inoculation exposes someone to weak logical arguments. Then, when exposed to a strong persuasion technique, the individual already has arguments to use in defense.

Let’s say that you want to make sure your teenage son doesn’t smoke.

So, you talk to your son and warn him that his “friends” will probably say he’s too scared to try smoking.

And then he should say something like, “I’d be a real chicken if I smoked just to impress you”.

6. Storytelling

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

– Philip Pullman

Everyone loves a good story.

For thousands of years, humans have been telling stories to each other.

Storytelling can be a great tool for persuading people.


They laughed when I sat down at the piano. But when I started to play!

We all recognize these opening lines. It was an Ad written by the copywriter John Caples promoting music lessons by mail.

Another great example is a sales letter written by Martin Conroy which Wall Street Journal used it for 28 years.

And It sold $2 billion worth of WSJ subscriptions

And why it was this letter so successful? Because it tells a compelling, relevant story.

Where to find stories?

There are 4 categories to find compelling stories:

1. A time you shined – This story is about something good that happened to you. A time when everyone told you to quit, but you didn’t listen to them and it turned out great.

2. A time you blew it – This is about a time when something bad happened and it was your fault. Sharing a personal failure will make people trust you and they might also share a similar story.

3. A mentor – Was a person who had a big impact on your life? Then tell a story about him/her.

Telling a story of admiration and gratitude towards that person communicates that you’re humble.

Also, people will assume that you share the same qualities and values as your mentor. 

4. A book, movie, or current event – There are millions of stories from articles, books, or even movies that might help prove your point.

In addition, a great story needs to have 4 key components: The hero, Goal, Obstacles, Transformation.

A perfect example is an Ad from Coca-cola called “A bridge for Santa”.

The hero is a young boy who wishes for Santa to come into his town. But the obstacle is the broken bridge. Then the people help his dad to build the bridge, hence overcome the obstacle.

7. Tonality

I have been studying Jordan Belfort’s selling system for quite some time now.

And I learned that tonality is a crucial element in becoming extremely persuasive.

It’s easy to master tonality patterns because you have been using your entire life.

The difference is that in the past you weren’t consciously aware of what they could do and how to use them.

Tonality Patterns

1. Scarcity/Urgency – It’s in human nature to want things that are in short supply. Salespeople use it all the time in terms of information scarcity or an actual product that’s scarce.

And scarcity combined with urgency (to do it now) causes people to take immediate action.

For example, say “I have 16 products left and they’ll be completely gone forever,” in a normal/neutral tone.

Now say the same sentence but using the tone of scarcity- when you lower your voice to just above a whisper.

The second one has a greater emotional impact.

2. The Reasonable Man – A good tactic is to ask for permission before presenting an idea or a product.

e.g. “If you have 60 seconds I would like to share an idea with you. You got a minute?”

Now, most of the people will agree with your request.

We are both reasonable men, and it’s a reasonable request.

3. Absolute certainty – Your voice takes a firmer, more definitive tone.

4. I care –  You ask someone “Hey Martin, how are you doing today?” in an I really want to know, tone of voice.  He will match your tonality and instantly you created unconscious rapport.

5. Phrasing a declarative as a question – When you first pick up the phone you’ll introduce yourself and tell him you’re calling from somewhere.

e.g. “Hi, my name is John Smith calling from X company in California. How are you today?”

You are making a declaration. There are no tonal changes. 

Now try turning that statement into a question:

“Hi, my name is John Smith? Calling from X company? In California? How are you today?”

It makes people wonder “Am I supposed to know this person?”

At that moment it paralyzes the person’s internal dialogue from working against you.

The person is trying to figure out whether they should know the person who’s calling. In addition, it will open up the possibility of further influence by you.

6. I feel your pain – It’s used when you’re trying to uncover your prospect’s pain points and if possible amplify them. If you try to do that while using an unsympathetic tonality, then you’ll break rapport with him.

But when you use the “I feel your pain” tonality, the prospect gets this gut feeling you really understand and care about him.

7. The presupposing tone – It’s when you say something in a way it presupposes that the product is great.

e.g. “You’ll make money with this. But what we can make about you in the long term…”

Action Step: Pay attention to the tonality patterns used by Leonardo Di Caprio in this video:

8. Reveal the business nobody knows

Joe Vitale, in his excellent book “The 7 lost secrets of success” tells the story of Bruce Barton.

In 1935, Bruce wrote the famous slogan for Steel Corporation.

He said Andrew Carnegie “came to a land of wooden towns… and left a nation of steel”.

This completely changed the perspective.

People were no longer buying a product called steel, they were supporting a mission to improve the lifestyle of a nation.

Now, how does your business contribute to improving lives?

For example, if you teach people how to write books, you aren’t just selling knowledge but immortality.

You put yourself in that book. You have created something that will live beyond you.

There are many famous writers who passed away years ago, but their work has touched millions of people beyond their grave.

Cosmetic companies aren’t just selling a lipstick. They sell romance. And they should focus on the romance derived from using the product.

Barton used this strategy in his own profession.

When people complained that advertising is misleading or manipulative, he responded:

“If advertising is sometimes long-winded, so is the US Senate. If advertising has flaws, so has the marriage”.

He reframed the way people look at his profession. And it worked because his agency became one of the largest in the world.

The gasoline nobody knows

In 1928, Barton was talking to the American Petroleum Institute, and he urged them to stand one hour at their filling stations. He said, talk to people and discover what magic a dollar’s worth of gasoline a week has worked in their lives’.

“My friends, it is the juice of the fountain of eternal youth you are selling. It is health. It is comfort. It is success. And you have sold it as a bad-smelling liquid at so many cents a gallon. You have never lifted it out of the category of a hated expense.”

The magic was mobility. People could go where they wanted whenever they wanted. And this was an uplifting message for oil company owners.

Read more:

How to sell over the phone like Jordan Belfort Step by Step

17 Powerful Psychological trick to influence anyone

9 Extremely Effective Manipulation Techniques


26 Powerful Techniques to persuade anyone by Akash Karia

The Power of Persuasion by Robert Levine

Whoever tells the best story wins by Annette Simmons