Convince Me: What it takes for us to be sold on an idea.

With the general consensus that we all run away from high-pressure sales people, there is an inherent attraction to people who help change our minds.


Particularly, when we related to a “fad” or “trend”, there is something in us that wants to join.  But, also, we do not want to look foolish.  Proper diligence must be exercised so that we don’t risk looking like the gullible, the “flip-flopper”.  What does that diligence look like, though?  Is it months of research and study?

Psychologists say no.

A new idea is adopted in an instant if three things exist:

  1. A cultural point of reference.  We have to have already been introduced to a sister concept through culture.  Yes, even a sci-fi movie counts.
  2. A thought-leader.  It may only take listening to a lecture or reading a LinkedIn article by a believable expert.
  3. Probable personal recognition.  It’s always the stories that we tell ourselves that win in the end. “Narrative Psychology” has gained traction in recent years.  It’s the story of ourselves, our brand and it is told at 140 characters.  What will my colleagues and friends think if I make this decision?  Will I look like a pioneer, an early adopter, a revolutionary?

On the veneer, we like to think of ourselves as prudent, logical and steadfast.  But, what we most often “feel” is what helps us make decisions.  Once we go through the 3-step convincing, the decision is pretty easy.  Admittedly, there are some who use the same inherent process to disprove a decision, those that tell themselves, “wait and see” defines their more prudent personalities.

Perhaps you are the “idea seller”, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Gather Information.  The more informed you are, the more authority you hold in this conversation.  If you don’t know the market, the appetite and the pain points…no one is going to trust you.
  2. Prepare Professionally.  The bigger the idea, the smaller the napkin.  Meaning, you must address pain points and advantages over a variety of mediums (lectures, white papers, etc)  And, by all means .. please, no death by powerpoint.
  3. Know your audience. This is, in fact, the most important role for you.  Where is your potential client struggling?  Can you alleviate or mitigate that pain?  Is there competition ahead?  Have they gotten stale in the industry?

The moral of this story (regardless if you are the idea seller or buyer), is that EVERYTHING IS SALES.

Don’t believe me?  From the car you drive to the toothpaste you use…it was sold to you.  Said something about your story and you bought.  Art/Music?  That’s emotional sales.  Technology?  That’s efficiency sales.


Once you accept that everyone wants to sell you something, you have two choices:  You can feel a freedom with this knowledge and make choices better related to your story, your tribe.  Or you can close yourself off to any new ideas at the peril of being left behind, being antiquated.


We all want to add to our own story, we are constant buyers ready with a hair trigger decision.  It’s in the gut.  And, it’s everywhere.