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Change the Way You Pesuade
Transcript of Change the Way You Pesuade
By Gary A. Williams and Robert B. Miller
Purpose for the Article
To present research on the five distinct decision-making styles that executives tend to fall into: Charismatics, Thinkers, Skeptics, Followers, and Controllers.
•11% of executives surveyed
•Cerebral, intelligent, logical, academic
•Most difficult decision makers to persuade
•Not known for social skills; tend to guard their emotions
•Impressed with arguments that are supported by data; asks many questions
•Tend to have a strong aversion to risk
•Slow to make a decision
•Examples: Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Katherine Graham
•19% of executives surveyed
•Highly suspicious of every data point presented
•Aggressive style; strong personality; take-charge people;
tend to trust people similar to them
•Demanding, disruptive, disagreeable, rebellious
•Will challenge your position
•Make decisions quickly
•Examples: Steve Case, Larry Ellison, Tom Siebel
•36% of executives surveyed
•Responsible, cautious, brand-driven, bargain-conscious
•Make decisions based on how they, or other trusted executives, have made decisions in the past
•Risk-averse; focus on proven methods; afraid of making the wrong choice
•Challenge your position
•Easiest to persuade but most difficult to identify (often mistaken with skeptics); tend to yield when challenged
•Examples: Peter Coors, Douglas Daft, Carly Fiorina
Motivation for the article
Managers tend to make the mistake of focusing on the content of their argument and not how they deliver the message.
Important take away:
This information is intended to be neither exhaustive nor definitive, and most executives exhibit only some of the traits.
Knowing the general characteristics of the different styles can help you better tailor your presentations and arguments to your audience.
•25% of executives surveyed
•Enthusiastic, captivating, talkative, dominant, persistent
•Risk-seeking yet responsible individuals
•Attention span is short
•Dislike canned arguments & will interrupt you to get to bottom line
•Rely on other executives when making major decisions
Examples: Richard Branson, Lee Iacocca, Herb Kelleher
When Presenting to a Charismatic
•Use visual aids to stress the features and benefits of your proposal
•Start with most crucial information
•Fight the urge to join in his excitement
•Arguments must be simple and straight forward
•Keep discussion focused on results
•Buzzwords: results, proven, actions, show, watch, easy, clear, focus
When Presenting to a Thinker
•Have lots of data ready; market research, customer surveys, case studies, cost-benefit analysis, etc.
•Openly communicate your worries and concerns about your proposal
•Appeal directly to their intelligence
•Give them ample time and space to come to their own conclusions
•Buzzwords: quality, academic, think, numbers, intelligent, plan,
Two year project that studied decision-making styles of 1600 executives across a range of industries.
When Presenting to a Skeptic
•Challenging a skeptic is risky and must be handled delicately
•Do not directly correct a skeptic; allow them to maintain reputation and ego
•Do not help a skeptic, they prefer to have people think they know something already
•Buzzwords: feel, grasp, power, action, suspect, trust, demand, disrupt
When Presenting to a Follower
•Make them feel confident about deciding by proving others
have succeeded on that path
•Use proven methods, testimonials, and references
•Use past decisions by the follower/other executives
•Buzzwords: innovate, expedite, expertise, similar to, previous
•9% of executives surveyed
•Logical, unemotional, sensible, detail oriented, accurate, analytical
•Hate uncertainty and ambiguity
•Strong personalities, over-bearing, see things only in their perspective
•Loners, self-absorbed, rarely capitulate when cornered
•Key difference between controllers and skeptics: need ample time to make decision (hate to be rushed)
•Often will jump to illogical decisions and if something goes wrong will blame on others (unlike charismatics, who take responsibility)
•Examples: Jacques Nasser, Ross Perot, Martha Stewart
When Presenting to a Controller
•Argument needs to be structured and credible; Don’t be too aggressive
•Only way to sell an idea is not to sell it; instead let them make the choice
•Supply them with the information they need and hope they are
•Buzzwords: details, facts, reason, logic, power, handle, physical,
grab, just do it