How to Convince People to Take Your Advice

To be great at sales you must be able to convince people to take your advice.

Do people regularly ask for your opinion and then do their own thing?

Are you amazed when people pay you for your advice and then immediately disregard it?

Have you ever wondered why this happens?

The answer lies not in what you say but in how you say it.

There are three specific steps that will help get people to put your good advice into practice. They are:

  1. Make an emotional appeal
  2. Give them specific action steps to follow
  3. Associate negative consequences with NOT following your advice

Here’s some additional detail on the steps listed above:

The Emotional Appeal – Ninety percent of all decisions that are made by humans in life are emotional decisions. It is human nature to make decisions based upon our emotional reaction to a given situation and the JUSTIFY our decision with rational reasoning.

This is even true in a business-to-business setting.

Once I was proposing a complex (and expensive) organizational effectiveness solution to a large multi-national company. There was an involved bidding process that had my firm up against two large competitors. My company nailed all of the presentations we gave to the decision-making board involved in this process. Our solution was competitively priced. We believed we were “a lock” to get the business. When the decision was made, we found out that the deal was awarded to the highest priced competitor. I asked for a meeting with the committee to debrief (mainly to find out why we were not selected so we could improve). The head of the procurement committee responded with a statement that I will never forget.

She said:

“Dave, your firm was a perfect fit in every way. When we presented the proposals to the president of the company he told us that we needed to go with your competitor. He said that his son played youth soccer with the president of the competing firm and he had a deep personal relationship with this man. He believed that this relationship would help us receive better service and save us money in the long run.”

In the case highlighted above, the president’s emotional decision – justified by logic, trumped even the most compelling logical argument I could make.

When you make an appeal to someone to take your advice, focus on emotions such as trust, integrity and fear (more on that in a few paragraphs). Emotions resonate with people. That’s what they remember.

Provide Specific Steps – We must make it easy for people to buy from us. There can be no ambiguity.

When you are taking a trip to a new place do you ever use your GPS? Do you keep glancing at the map or do you listen to the turn-by-turn commands? Which portion of the guidance do you find easier to follow? Most people respond that the turn-by-turn directions – the specific words – are easier to follow. This is because our brain finds it easier to grasp the directions in small segments. The map requires a specific visualization of the route and we all know that the map often does not accurately reflect the territory.

Giving people specific action steps to follow is a way to help them grasp one step at a time in a specific process. It is far more likely that folks will listen to, and take advantage of, our guidance if we break it down into manageable chunks.

Clearly Articulate the Consequences of NOT Following your Advice – This is where fear comes in. People are far more likely to take action to move AWAY from fear than they are to take action TOWARD pleasure. This is just how we are wired.

One of my neighbors is a personal trainer. He was having problems retaining clients after they went through the initial orientation session with him. He made one seemingly minor change in his approach and he doubled his client base almost overnight.

At the outset of the orientation training session he wrote down the participant’s weight, height and he calibrated their body fat. He then proceeded to take them through the exercises in the gym that he recommended for them. At the conclusion of the session he gave the participant an insurance actuarial chart that determined their life expectancy based upon their weight and their body fat.

He then circled the amount of years they were taking OFF of their life by being overweight. The fear – in this case the fear of an early death – was enough to motivate over 80% of his clients to sign up with him for a 90–day training program.


Fear is healthy. It keeps us from doing all kinds of stupid things that could harm us. We can all learn how to use fear for our benefit in our personal lives as well as in our interactions with our clients.

Remember, these tactics are powerful. If you use them to manipulate your client, you may get them to take action in the short run but ultimately they will feel betrayed if they find out that you used them unethically.

Here are three more resources you can use to help you sell more and get home on time for dinner every night.

Get Inside the Mind of the Client

You must know how your client thinks before you can convince him to take action. If you want to sell, you need to read this article.

How to Create a Culture of Sales Success

If you are building a sales team, this may be the most important article you read this year. Creating a culture of sales success is critical for your growth and the growth of your company.

Make it Urgent for Your Client

Want to create urgency? This is your guide. Read this article – right now.