“I’m not very persuasive. I envy people who are persuasive. I could never do sales.” If that rings true, then this post is for you.
The first thing to understand is that how you persuade as an analytical introvert looks nothing like how a salesperson does it. This blog post does not contain any black magic on how to trick people in to wanting something they don’t really want. It does shed light on a couple reasons analytical introverts often fail to persuade, and covers an approach that uses your natural strengths and a little bit of stretching to make you more influential.
Preparation is Key
One of my biggest sticking points in meetings historically was that I needed time to process information, poke holes in it, surface the truth, and then figure out how I was going to convey this information in a brilliant sound byte. 10 minutes later, I have a brilliant suggestion but we’ve been on a different topic for the last 5 minutes…
And the times where I spoke up without doing that processing, I lost half the room. Awkward!
Missing windows of opportunity is one of the key reasons analytical introverts fail to persuade.
My secret to success is to do all that thinking before the meeting. If I get an invite that I don’t know what the topic will be, I’ll reach out ahead of time to get some clues that I can process before hand.
Most of the time this is doing a brain dump in notepad and typing my way through the different branches of a decision tree. Or pulling some data which may just make the decision obvious. By doing the work ahead of time, I have some idea of where this conversation might go, what points warrant raising a red flag, and what an ideal solution might include.
What you’re really trying to get out of this process is to have a couple high level talking points with jargon removed. By preparing ahead of time, you’ll be ready to jump in and influence the second opportunity presents itself.
Tailor Your Message To Your Audience
For a long time I kept falling into the same trap, where my persuasion style was talking quickly through 100 details. Obviously others will process that all on the fly and appreciate the fact that I shared every single detail… right?
The thing to understand is that most people aren’t wired to keep up when you take that approach. And the ones who are wired that way probably have their own spreadsheet they want to get back to.
Losing your audience in the weeds is another key reason analytical introverts fail to persuade.
To be more persuasive, you need to deliver your message in bite-sized chunks. For example: here’s one 1-2 sentences on the problem, and I have two solutions I’ll walk you through. <pause for questions or clarification> Here’s the gist of Approach A, and the top strengths and weaknesses. <pause for questions or clarification> Now here’s the gist, strengths and weakness of Approach B.
The pauses are important – it gives other analytical people processing time, and ensures the room follows what you’re saying. You know you’ve succeeded when you hear others explain the situation the same way you did in an earlier meeting. Bite sized chunks are one of the best ways to accomplish that (bonus: you’re not in the spotlight as long!).
By serving up bite sized chunks of information and pausing regularly for questions, you’ll ensure the nuance of your ideas are understood by all.
Keep it Genuine
You’ll notice in the example above I didn’t suggest using hype like “here’s this amazing idea that’s going to triple your revenue.” No one is going to believe you if you try to “sell.” It’s just about taking your natural style – exploring and presenting options, identifying and being transparent about potential problems, staying far away from the hype train – and packaging that up in a way that is really accessible to other styles.
Adam Grant did research that showed people who admitted real weakness in a job interview were more likely to get hired. That sounds a lot more like my natural approach than how I assume a salesperson would approach an interview.
By staying genuine you let your natural strengths shine through. Remember, these are the strengths that have made you successful in business, and they’re compelling enough to have earned you a seat at the table. Your persuasion style looks different than the traditional playbook because it involves strengths that many other people don’t have.
The way I’ve been trying to stretch is to lead with a recommendation, rather than just presenting a couple good options. I’ve been doing that by leveraging my strengths – which option aligns best with the audience’s goals? Or if there’s a weakness I’m really concerned about in an option – how can I communicate that in a way that I know the audience cares about?
The other stretch goal is cutting myself off when I start going down the rabbit hole. I try to remind myself that if people want to know how something works they’ll ask.
To summarize –
DO: go down the rabbit hole before the meeting and create a bite sized deliverable
DON’T: take your audience down the rabbit hole during the meeting
You may find that you’re already some or all of this without realizing it. Is there anything that works for you that I missed?
BONUS – You’re more persuasive than other styles when…
- Someone in the room fires a tough question and you’ve already thought through that answer (vs. “let me follow up with the team”)
- You can articulate the risks involved with different approaches (vs. just hyping the upside)
- The people you’re trying to influence also happen to be analytical introverts!