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The 5 Paths to Persuasion: The Art of Selling Your Message

The 5 Paths to Persuasion: The Art of Selling Your Message

by Robert B. Miller

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The truth is - it doesn't matter how smart or how slick a presentation is, if it isn't in sync with the decision maker's mindset, then it's bound to fail. That's the conclusion drawn by Miller and Williams, who completed an exhaustive study of more than 1,700 key business executives. Their research shows that decision makers can be placed into five distinct categories


The truth is - it doesn't matter how smart or how slick a presentation is, if it isn't in sync with the decision maker's mindset, then it's bound to fail. That's the conclusion drawn by Miller and Williams, who completed an exhaustive study of more than 1,700 key business executives. Their research shows that decision makers can be placed into five distinct categories: Charismatics, Thinkers, Skeptics, Followers, and Controllers. Once the category the decision maker falls into is determined, then the presentation can be tailored to their precise mindset.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Knowing one's audience is the key to making the sale and closing the deal. It's that simple, say authors Miller and Williams, executives and customer research experts at Miller-Williams Inc., with writer Hayashi. The specific nature of an idea or business opportunity is, of course, important, but more crucial is how and in what manner it is presented to the potential signer-on. By thoroughly studying the type of decision maker to be propositioned, the presenter can, in effect, get into his or her head and customize the idea to the mindset. The authors have delineated five categories of decision makers: skeptics, charismatics, thinkers, followers and controllers. By providing a detailed account of the how, what, why and why not of persuading each type, the authors' message is clear and consistent throughout the book: decode the individual and then go in with the proper tools. Some require extensive information, others just the "big picture"; some want to be coddled, others don't mind being challenged; some take their time and others make decisions on the spot. Knowing what each type is looking for makes all the difference between success and failure, the authors argue. Busy corporate types would do well to refer to this guide to figure out why they just can't make the big sale or how they could make an even bigger one the next time around. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This book takes aim at the "one size fits all" approach to selling. Instead, the authors, who head up a market research firm in San Diego, conducted a decision-making survey of some 1700 executives (primarily from the United States). They found that participants exhibited one of five different management styles: they were charismatics, thinkers, skeptics, followers, or controllers. Using these findings, the authors consider those they feel fit each type and also provide specific persuasion techniques tailored to each. They conclude with more general information on reading people, common mistakes made in trying to influence people, various steps in the decision-making process, and their survey methodology. This well-written and engaging book is wide-ranging enough to appeal to a variety of readers. By focusing on the types of people targeted and on how to tailor one's message, it also takes some of the art out of persuasion, transforming it into a skill we can all hone. Recommended for all libraries.-Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. of Ohio, Oxford Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Grand Central Publishing
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Hachette Digital, Inc.
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Read an Excerpt

The 5 Paths to Persuasion

By Robert B. Miller Gary A. Williams Alden M. Hayashi

Warner Books

Copyright © 2004 Robert B. Miller and Gary A. Williams
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-69590-4

Chapter One


It was a tense weekend. Jason Wheeler and Ed Reynolds, entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, kept on trying to reach their new business partner, Rick Pearson. They called frantically, first Pearson's office, next his home, and then his place in Palm Springs, hoping he might be spending the weekend there. But Pearson was nowhere to be found, and Wheeler and Reynolds had been counting on him for the $100,000 investment he had promised to give them that Friday.

Earlier, Pearson had been ecstatic about the deal. A self-made multimillionaire, he was bored and had been looking for new business opportunities. So when Wheeler and Reynolds told him about this new urban recording artist who had just broken from her recording company, Pearson was instantly enthralled with the idea of signing her up and launching a new label to advance her career. He had promised Wheeler and Reynolds the $100,000 as an initial investment-money that the two men were now counting on to finance some promotional work for her. But then Friday rolled around and Pearson had all but disappeared. What happened?

In today's tough business environment, deals are being lost, promotions are being scuttled, and raises are being denied because people lack the necessary skills to effectively persuade others. Even win-win proposals that should have been no-brainers are instead being tabled-the victims of intense scrutiny and skepticism. Indeed, especially in tough times, good ideas do not sell themselves; they need help.

In The Five Paths to Persuasion, we present a new framework for understanding how best to influence others. From our two-year study of nearly seventeen hundred executives, we have found that persuasion is most effective when it's tailored to one of five types of people:

Charismatics, like Jack Welch and Oprah Winfrey, who are easily enthralled with new ideas, particularly bold and innovative ones, but will not make a move until they are sure that others have thought through the details

Thinkers, like Bill Gates and Michael Dell, who need to cautiously and methodically work through each pro and con of every conceivable option before rendering a decision

Skeptics, like Larry Ellison and Ted Turner, who are highly suspicious of every piece of information and will rarely trust anything that doesn't fit with their worldview

Followers, like Carly Fiorina and Peter Coors, who make decisions based mainly on how other trusted people, including themselves, have made similar decisions in the past

Controllers, like Martha Stewart and Ross Perot, who must be in charge of every aspect of the decision-making process and need to have some ownership of an idea before proceeding with it

The five styles of decision making span a wide range of behavioral characteristics. Controllers, for instance, shun risk, whereas Charismatics actively seek it out. But in spite of such differences, people often mistakenly use a one-size-fits-all approach when trying to persuade others, concentrating too much on the content of their argument and not enough on how the intended recipient wants to receive that information. In fact, we know of numerous companies that force their salespeople to use canned presentations, with the same format and order of information-down to the exact number of PowerPoint slides!-for different customers in diverse industries. Another common mistake is that people misapply the Golden Rule: They try to sway others as they themselves would like to be persuaded.

Such tactics simply don't work. In our research, we have found that far too many decisions have gone the wrong way because of a crucial mismatch in how information was presented versus how it should have been presented. An argument geared for a Follower, for instance, might easily flop when delivered to a Skeptic, no matter how terrific the ideas. Instead, people should tailor their presentations to the executives they are trying to persuade, using the best language to deliver the right information in the most effective sequence and format. After all, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey do not make important business decisions in the same way. Knowing the differences can dramatically improve your ability to sway executives like them.

Human behavior is far too complex for cookie-cutter approaches. But the breakthrough of our new framework is that you don't have to start from scratch every single time you're dealing with someone new. Our study shows that executives tend to make big decisions in one of five predictable ways, and through empirical research we have determined the strategies that are the most effective for influencing each. Paths to Persuasion helps you to understand-and adapt to-the different ways in which your colleagues, partners, bosses, and others make decisions. In particular, you will learn how the five types of executives prefer to hear (or see) specific types of information at different stages in their decision-making processes.

With this information, you can tap into the full power of persuasion. You will be both seen and heard, even by busy top executives. You will push through your initiatives and close deals. And you will successfully argue for the raises and promotions you deserve. In short, by learning how to make your arguments stick, you'll avoid the type of costly mistake that the entrepreneurs Wheeler and Reynolds committed, and you will get business done.


Excerpted from The 5 Paths to Persuasion by Robert B. Miller Gary A. Williams Alden M. Hayashi Copyright © 2004 by Robert B. Miller and Gary A. Williams.
Excerpted by permission.
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Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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