Persuasion Skills In Business Correspondence English Language Essay

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Nowadays, promoters tend to approach and attract random public by introducing products or services that they think is appropriate and fill the demand of the public. Even so, they are able to attract some customers to stay and listen to what are they about to say. These customers also seem to respond to what they have been told during the talk to some extent they even purchase the product or become a member of the service provided. Many have argued promoting is persuading customer through communicating relevant messages (Starch, 1914). According to Reynolds (1995), certain types of information in advertising messages provide personal relevant meaning to audience.

Many researchers have been conducted to discover the power of persuasion both in spoken and written by focusing on how they use the make use the skills under certain circumstances. Many studies have been conducted to see the skills used in persuasion that enables the person persuades listeners; for instance, it is known that, salesperson able to influence customers to buy products or services if the promoters can convey the message appropriately. It is also related to the skills the promoters presented to influence the customers to change their belief, attitudes and behaviour (Sparksa, 2000) as he had stated,

"Studies in many communication settings report that audiences evaluate speakers using powerful styles of speech more favorably with respect to social power, sociability, credibility, competence, attractiveness, and intelligence than speakers using powerless styles of speech"

Early research suggested that, language style has little or no role in persuasion (Gibbons et al., 1991), however, according to Sparks et. al. (1998),

"Language style indeed influences persuasion as a peripheral cue, but only given low audience ability to process information".

This shows that, language also plays minimal role in influencing people (Sparksa, 2000) as it helps in the process of information that the promoters conveyed to customers.

However, not everyone will agree immediately to a request unless the promoters able to indicate what he or she can get from the offer, so promoters shall take two steps ahead of the customers.

Problem Statement

Persuasion occurs everywhere. It does not only begging and pleading but most likely is viewed as a skills reserved for promoting products. It is also seen as a manipulative strategy and most likely people try to avoid. Persuasion can also become negotiating if the persuader can persuade customers effectively.

Promoters also are known as persuader since they try to persuade customers by promoting products or services that they are about to introduce and sell. More or less, promoters have the skills to persuade as well as the language skills so that they can influence customers.

The purpose of this study is to discover the persuasion skills and persuasive language used to persuade customers by the promoters who tend to persuade customers to buy their products or services.

Objectives

The study is carried out to analyze the skills promoters present as well as the language they used during promoting. The purpose of the study can be understood by looking at the research questions that will be answered throughout this study. The research questions, which focus on the study, are listed as below.

To identify the persuasion skills used by promoters to persuade customers.

To identify persuasive languages involve in persuading customers.

Research Questions

The study is designed to identify the persuasion skills presented during the sales presentation and the use of language in promoting. The study will seek answers to the following questions;-

What are persuasion skills that promoters present in persuading customers?

What are persuasive languages that promoters use in persuading customers?

Definition of Terms

In this study, there are several terms that are used relevant to the study. The definition for each terminology will be used during the study. It is important to understand the meaning for each term in order to sustain optimum understanding while reading this paper.

Persuasion

Persuasion is perceived as a skill reserved for selling products and closing deals (Conger, 1998). It is an interactive process in which a message given can influence one's view over something that may change his or her behaviour (Murphy, 2005). Persuasion aims to resolve a conflict of opinion. It is also commonly viewed as a form of manipulation people's mind and attitude to accept and believe what had been said. It indeed involves moving people from a position into position that they do not currently hold (Conger, 1998). Persuasion can also be defined as the ability to influence people's minds and actions using specific methods and strategies (Behera, 2010) Persuasion attempts to change peoples' mind and get them to act (McGaan, 2010).

Persuasion skills

Persuasion skills refer to the tactics use and the ability of promoter to influence a customer that can affect external change that is the behavior and the internal change that is mind of the customer to accept the idea and eventually act the way the promoter wants. The customer allows the promoter to get what the promoter wants without having to use force (Lee, 2009).

Persuasive language

Persuasive language refers to the language that can convince others to believe one's perception and make the listeners to think and act in a certain way that a persuader wants the listeners to do (Philips, 2002). Persuasive language can influence one's emotion since the language use in persuasion can evoke one's emotion and feelings.

Significance of the Study

This study is carried out to identify skills which salesperson presented in persuading customers. Salesperson's presentation is referring to the style related to how promoter presents the main message to customer and controls their effects on persuasion (Sparksa, 2000). It is also focus on the quality of salesperson's language and its effects on the audience attitude, behaviour, and inner mental. The quality stated is referring to the skill of delivering a verbal message that can change ones view. Research on language offers useful understanding into carrying sales presentation quality.

The findings of this study will help promoters to determine which skills and language can be used under certain situation to influence customers and help the promoters to find new strategies to make their persuasion more effective and reduce customers' resistance.

On the other hand, it also can help customers be aware of the persuasion skills and persuasive language so that they are not easily being persuaded to buy product or service.

Limitations and Scope of the Study

The study is carried on to identify skills and languages that can influence customers to change their attitude, behaviour, and inner mental. The study involves salespersons who are promoting products or services and random customers that might or might not respond to the advertising. So, there will be some limitations in conducting the research.

The first limit is the cooperation among the chosen customers in respond to questionnaire. Not all the participants will answer the questionnaire honestly. And some might just answer the question because they have to.

Second is the accuracy of the data. Since the study is not involving large number of customers and will be conducted in shopping mall areas, the participants do not represent salespersons and customers as a whole because each of promoters have their own way on presenting persuasion skills and the language that they use. The results of the data getting from the observation also are not quite accurate since it is just an opinion based on the researcher and do not involve any other opinions from another parties.

Third is the time limit which will influence the result of the data. Since the questionnaire is given to the salesperson that might be busy in promoting, they might answer the questions just for answering. Thus, it influences the result of the data.

Chapter Summary

Persuasion is a powerful skill anybody can pose. However, not all people can be influenced if the persuader does not present a good presentation during persuasion. This is because, people judge the person based on their image and powerful language which reflects the persuader's image and intelligent.

The very basic of persuasion skills lie in the person who doing the talking (Lee,2009).To be able to persuade a customer, a promoter must have some skills that can attract customer's attention thus make them change their attitude, belief and behaviour to accept and approve the promoter's thought.

Apart from it, language also plays a role in order to help promoter to persuade. Using appropriate language can help the customer to process information so that the customer can think, judge, accept and the least approve the promoter's opinion. It is best if the promoter uses language that the customer tends to use and avoid to use jargon or terminology that might cause the customer to lose interest to listen to the promoter anymore.

Chapter 2

2.1 Literature Review

Persuasion is defined as social influence (Dugan, 2003). It is focus on people (Appelbaum, 2009). It is the process of guiding customers and oneself toward the adoption of an idea, attitude, or action. Influence, in a way is similar to power, the capacity to bring about change (Dugan, 2003). Persuasion is an interactive process in which a message given alters one's view over something that may change his or her behaviour (Murphy, 2005). Persuasion aims to resolve a conflict of opinion. It is important to investigates the causes if human changes whether the changes in behaviour, attitude or a belief. Changes in behaviour are called compliance, changes in attitude are called persuasion, and changes in belief are called propaganda (Dugan, 2003).

As a promoter, he or she must have self-confident (Lee, 2009) to counter customers. Promoters should know how to approach the customers and persuade them to believe and accept what the promoters have said.

Thus, persuasion involves in changing in people mind to accept a suggested idea and make them to act the way you favor (Behera, 2010). Persuasion typically uses information to influence others (McGaan, 2010).

General purposes (McGaan, 2010) of persuasion are;

Create uncertainty to make them less certain they are right.

Reduce resistance towards the promoters.

Changing the customers' attitude.

Gain behavior by making the customers to act the promoters wants them to.

Some elements are used in persuasion in order to help the promoter to persuade customers. These elements are somehow can persuade involved people in the process.

2.2 Elements That Cause Someone to Change Their External Behaviour and Inner Mental System

Persuasion takes place when a person causes someone to change his or her external behaviour, and inner mental system, attitudes and beliefs. Some elements cause someone to change their behaviour, attitude, and belief. The elements are;

Intent.

To persuade customers, we might do it intentionally or not. In fact, persuasion can change customers' attitude, belief, and behaviour.

Coercion

With coercion, agreement can be achieve as it changes behaviour but not the inner mental system.

Context

The context might as well make customers change their behaviour towards something.

Plurality

One can persuade a person or more than one person.

Presence

Persuader might present to allow maximum communication with the other customers or communicate with medium such as telephone or written.

Media

Media is used to communicate for a wide range.

2.3 Persuasion Strategies

There are some strategies used to persuade customers. According to Cialdini (2000), there were six weapons of influence;-

Commitment and consistency where customers like to commit what they think is right. For example, in furniture sales, the price is suddenly raised at the last moment because the buyer has already decided to buy.

Social proof makes the customers to determine what is correct be it a behaviour or belief by finding out what others think or doing. For example, when there is a show, if one person goes to the spot, then bystanders will also do the same.

Authority or expertise where customers are more likely to respond to the authority or expertise figures such as an artist or an expert. People tend to believe to experts as they have the special knowledge of a subject beyond others and tend to believe in what they recommend as it can change one's perception. (Appelbaum, 2009).

Liking where customers are easily persuaded by other whom they admire. Customers like to buy things if they like the seller who sells things to them.

Scarcity where most of business does this by generating demand and stating the limit to the offer. Scarcity makes something more valuable. Business tends to make limited offer for certain products or services. Whenever the free choice is threatened or limited, it makes the customers to wanting them (Appelbaum, 2009).

2.4 Persuasion Skills

The key to persuasion lies in how the promoter responds with the resistance of the customer. Promoter tends to use skills that can handle objections and resistance. Promoter sometimes uses techniques that customers failed to notice. To be persuasive, promoters must design message that would make the customers feel care, the customers know that the promoters are an expert and make them believe that the promoters can help them (Zimmer, 2005). To enable the promoters to deliver persuasive message, promoters should have skills or techniques to help them achieve the goal. Some of the skills are listed below;-

Mirroring and matching.

The technique of "mirroring and matching" involves changing your verbal and body language to more closely match the person you are with (Gillman, 2007). Promoter tends to match the language, the speech, the position customers in and the expression customers gave. This technique enables the promoter to develop bond with the customers.

Using words that can motivate customers to think.

Using words like "think about it" is one of a motivating sentence. If promoters tell a customer to think about it, they will often do that. However, that is not a call to make the customer to take action (Gillman, 2007).

Using words customers tend to use.

Promoters tend to use words customer often used. That way, promoters are able to speak the same "language" as the customer did (Gillman, 2007). Using the customer's most common words to create bond and make the conversation more friend-like. For example, if the person uses "I see" few times, then the promoter will use phrases like, "you could see how…" (Gillman, 2007).

Presupposition

Presupposition is a carefully worded question that already assumes the person you are trying to persuade has agreed to whatever you are suggesting (squidoo.com). When using presupposition, promoter tends to make them sound as casual to unable the customer to detect the command and yet creating barrier and resistance. For example,

"Do you want this in red or white?"

Bait and switch

Bait and switch is a tactic where a promoter offers something that has a low value price that cannot be possibly refused by the customers and then replacing the offer with something with a higher value. This is a very common method in sales, for example, in car sales. Promoter tends to show the basic car design in the showroom with a low price. Once the customer is interested, the promoter influences them by offering another model which has a high value than the display one.

Foot in the door (FITD) tactics

This is a tactic where a promoter requests for something small and the when the customer give it to the promoter, the promoter then ask for something bigger and maybe bigger again.

For example,

Promoter : Can you wait for a moment please?.

Customer : Yes.

Promoter : I'm not taking long but I would like you to see our new product.

Customer : What product?

Promoter : Now, you were asking. Let me show you the product. This is…. [continue to talking]

Door in the face (DITF)

DITF is a tactic where a promoter requests something that will be rejected and then make another request that most likely be accepted by the customers. This tactic works by getting a "no" and then a "yes" for something that is offered.

For example,

Promoter : Will you donate RM 5.00 to our cause?

Customer : [hesitate]… No…

Promoter : Then, what about RM 1.00?

Customer : Oh! Okay then.

Low ball tactics

This tactic is frequently used by promoters by offering a customer cheaper products. After that particular customer purchased for the product, the promoter then offering another item that might be a compliment for the item purchased. In the end, the customer still needs to purchase the other item. In this tactic, the initial request made is catching customer's attention whilst the second request is not so outrageous that can lead to refusal.

For example, a customer who purchases a package holiday. Then finds out that there are surcharges charged in the package. The customer might pay this without questions.

That's not all (TNA) tactics

This tactic is a sequential request where the promoter keeps offering the customers an incremental piece of items rather than offering it in one piece. For example, after offering an item with a higher price, then offer the customers with a discount in several stages or add another extra gift if they purchase for the product.

Door in the mouth

Door in the mouth tactic is a tactic where the promoter tends to use nice words to customers. This tactic can make the customer pleased and certainly will make the customer to start liking the promoter. When the customer likes the promoter, he or she will automatically listen to the promoter and consider what the promoter has offered.

For example, "The red dress looks nice on you".

2.5 Persuasive Language

Language also can act to persuade customers. This is because; one can modify the meaning and sometimes exaggerate more to attract customers. This technique sometimes is successful but it depends on the person who is listening. The languages used in persuasion are;

Final impact: Impact or force is planted at the end of the sentence.

Final impact builds tension in the speech causes the customer to think and wanting to know more. To maximize the impact, it is best to put the main impact at the end of the speech, give a hint at what will come soon, create promise that keep them wondering to leave the customer in the state of desire instead of wishing for the speech to end soon.

For example,

"I am going to let you into a secret -- but not yet. First, I want you to know that I have been listening to a lot of customers like you who have similar problems. And I also think you will be pleased to know I have been able to help them get over those problems. And the secret of solving their problems lay in the effective use of a remarkable new support system." (Changingmind.org)

Hidden commands: Commands are burying in every sentence.

Command is hidden within the words of a longer sentence. The commands were softened by other words which distract the listener from resistance. There are some strategies used to hide the command;

Pleading - using the word "please". For example, "Please, just a moment"

Doubt - make the audience felt uncertain about something. For example, "are you sure you don't want to buy it?"

Assumption - forces the person to agree or think more. For example, "you have to add another RM 0.20 for the plastic"

Intensifiers: A modifier that has little meaning to increase the emotional impact of a statement.

Intensifier is used to subtly suggest the other person what emotions they should feel. The uses of the adverbs in the speech help to increase the effect of the verbs hence let the listeners to consider the emotions and begin to feel it.

For example,

"That is extremely interesting." (Suggests extreme response)

Object focus: Focus on the object and let the subject slip by.

By focusing on the object, the attention shifts from the subject unnoticed. It also causes the subject gets neglected as the listeners focus on the object. When the person makes the object as a focus of the sentence, less attention is paid to the subject.

For example,

"Look at the brand of the bag" (omitted subject is the bag but the promoter tends to let the customer to focus on the brand of the bad)

Power words: Words that have special meaning.

Power words are hardly noticed but these words are the words that can alter customers' attitude and beliefs. However, the effects of power words depend on the context used in the speech. Overload power words can make the speech sounds ridiculous and sometimes arouse anger. The best choice of using power words is using words that can trigger the need of the listener.

For example,

"Apply now for this limited offer to discover these amazing benefits."

Pronoun language: adding power to the statement.

Pronouns are very powerful little words that can add much power to persuasive language. By using the pronoun words can show gaps that are created by the salesperson. Too many pronouns indicate the aggressiveness and seem manipulative. Too few and it makes the person seems distant.

When using the pronoun "I" in persuasive language, it shows that the person is placing him into the position, showing commitment and purpose. If the person used "you", it sounds like the person wants to put the other person into his position. The using of "you" word creates separation between the one person to another and also bond between each other.

For example,

"I think that is good" (committing your own opinion)

"Have you ever felt the pain in the joint muscle" (putting the listeners into self position).

Sensory language: Language that bring up senses.

Senses in language are more powerful and can trigger person's five senses. It can stimulate the senses thus make the person to feel rather than requiring the cognitive or thinking effort. There are five senses that can be stimulated using the sense languages.

Sight - refers to the visual sense triggered by colours, visible shapes and appearance.

Sounds - refers to the auditory sense that is triggered by loudness, actual spoken word and noise.

Taste - refers to the gustatory sense that is stimulated by flavour.

Smell - stimulates by aroma and it is powerfully evocative sense and trigger early memories.

Feeling - refers to physical and emotional feeling that is triggered by the physical bodily experiences and tensions.

Customers tend to pay more attention on objects that reflect things they prefer, thus, almost all salesperson preferred sense channel in order to attract customers.

For example,

"This cake is made of vanilla" (triggers gustatory sense)

Short sentences.

Short sentences work better to grab attention and to summarize and show completion. The short sentence is used to make a point and let the listener to get the whole thing in one go. Naturally, pause is added between the sentences and this will make the listener to consider what is said and add 'thoughtfulness" into it.

For example,

"The first vacuum that doesn't use suction" (Retrieved from The Apprentice)

Temporal language: Changing time and meaning.

Temporal language is using time in a statement. It leads the listeners to cognitively move to the time indicated. Three time zones that are widely used in persuasive conversation;-

Future tense - Lets the customers to think of future and possibilities. This can distract the person away from their current state. Possibilities can also be positive or negative. Positive possibilities keep the person to think about the future whilst negative possibilities keep the person from acting.

Present tense - gives the urgency and makes the present more important. This urges the person to make decision without thinking further.

Past tense - gets the customers to relive the past experiences. It makes the person to re-experience the emotions associated with the past memories. It can be a good memory to keep them feel good or unpleasant thought to stop them doing something.

If the past, present and futures are to be merged together, it gives a sense of continuity and timelessness by switching the past and the futures between the time zones. It creates multiple effects and causes confusion that can lead a person to open to persuasion and suggestions.

For example,

"What will happen if you keep on smoking? It is better to stop now."

Trivializing words: Deflating what others say.

Trivializing words can make something less important than it really is. Such words can be used to defend and to attack. If trivializing words are applied to other person, words or things, it can reduce the status of the focus. Trivializing can be done with complete sentences and it can make the other things seem unimportant that the person will not object to it.

For example,

"Just for a while" 

Using pauses: Adding power with very largely nothing.

Pause is used to add more impact into the speech. However, the pause must be appropriate that it is worth the wait. Pauses should not be vocalized. A silence can be much more powerful if it is combined with a composed and steady body posture. Matching body language with the pause creates alignment and increases trust. Using the pause can trigger the need of completion thus increase the tension to the customers. Too much pauses can tip the tension into irritation. A pause between request and command separates them thus make the command more powerful whilst retaining the polite overall framing of a request.

For example,

"And here it is… a vacuum that does not use suction" (Retrieved from The Apprentice)

Hypnotic language patterns

Hypnotic language is about how you can alter states of consciousness through the use of language (Basu, 2009). It is a way of bypassing objections and focusing on the real heart of the matter. Promoters might want to avoid the usual sticking points like price and want the customers to enjoy the quality of the products. They tend to speak in a way that draws customers in until the customers are hanging on every word they say by presupposition that the customers will buy their products. Examples of hypnotic language are;-

"Will you want the 10-year extended warranty on this, or just the standard 3-year warranty?"

"Do you want the basic or the deluxe model?"

2.6 Chapter Summary

Though persuasion seems simple but one must have enough skills for the persuasion to be succeeded. The persuasion skills and the language used in persuasion is used in order to help the promoters to reduce the opposition of the customers towards the promoters thus enable the promoter to coax the customers into believe and accept what the promoters offer them. The language has small impact in persuasion but it also helps in manipulating people's mind since the language is used as a medium to convey messages and information.

Chapter 3

Research Methodology

3.1 Introduction

The study will examine how promoters influence and convince customers to purchase products or services promoted through their persuasion skills and the usage of persuasive languages. It also will observe the kinds of presentation salespersons provide (skills and languages) that will attract customers. Questionnaire will be given to salesperson on persuasion skills and persuasive languages that they tend to use during promoting. In this chapter, the researcher will deal with population sample, research instruments and method of data analysis.

3.2 Research Design of the Study

3.3 Procedures

There are several procedures used in collecting data that will be used in this study.

Questionnaires

The questionnaires will involve ------ customers. There will be ----- salespersons chosen randomly. Questions are prepared and given to the selected participants. There are two sections altogether in the questionnaire which are divided into two categories. Category A is represent the language used in persuasion and category B is represent the persuasion skills use in promoting. In order to answer the questionnaire, the participants need to tick the frequency usage of the language in the "frequently use", "seldom use" and "never use" tables.

The first category focuses on the persuasive languages use in promoting.

The second category is looking at the skills that promoters use in promoting and how they present themselves in front of the customers.

Observations

Observations will be carried on salespersons' presentation to attract customers. It will be focused on their strategy, which involves language styles and the way they present the stimuli (products) to the customers and how the customers respond to the presentation. The observation will focus more on the skills they tend to draw when persuading the customers and how the grab the attention of customers.

Document analysis

The study will present stimuli in the form of written transcript of sales presentation. The text analysis is used to identify persuasive language that is used in promoting. The transcript will be taken from drama TV series "The apprentice" of season 29.

3.4 Participants

The study will involve at least ------ customers, which consists of -------- random chosen salespersons.

3.5 Analysis Method

In order to see the tendency of using persuasive language and persuasion skills, the researcher will analyze and interpret the data based on the answers the participants gave. The answers then are being compared to see the most common language used in persuasion and the skills that they presented. The results of this study will be reported in the next chapter.

3.6 Chapter summary.

CHAPTER 4

4.1 Introduction

This chapter will look at the result of the data gathered throughout this study. Firstly, analysis is based on the observation made to the salesperson during promoting. Second is the analysis of questionnaire and third the analysis of the text document used in this study.

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