Book Review - Persuasion by Dave Lakhani

Uncategorized Oct 14, 2019

Persuasion – Dave Lakhani:

The act of persuading often gets a bad wrap. Persuasion can be seen as manipulation. Images of greasy second hand car salesmen trying to pass of the ‘deal of the century’. Dave Lakhani starts his book by saying that ‘virtually every element of human interaction involves some level of persuasion’. To survive we must persuade. As a baby we use crying to tell our parents that we need something. As children we learn different techniques to get our own way and then prefect those techniques as adults.

If we look at persuasion as just a negative thing then we are doing ourselves a disservice.

David Lakhani starts out by identifying that manipulation is solely for the benefit of the manipulator. Where as persuasion is about creating an environment that lets two or more people find common ground and belief.

In regards to the art of persuasion, being likeable gives you a huge head start. Building a relationship based on what you have in common gives you a great place to start from.

The first few chapters are quite simple, they lay the ground work. He addresses the factors of appearance, voice, communication skills and body language. Lakhani then moves into the art of story telling and positioning yourself as an expert. In chapter 6 he lays down a step by step plan on how to become an expert in your chosen subject area.

From there the real persuasion begins.

In the following chapters Lakhani starts to challenge your beliefs. To change ones actions, you must first change their beliefs. ‘In order to persuade effectively you have to suspend your models and beliefs long enough to test them to see if they hold true for the situation in which you are currently involved’. (P88)

He presents a seven step process for the belief creation and change process:

Step 1: Identify the current belief that someone holds around the idea you are presenting.

Step 2: Identify areas of frustration or confusion around the issue.

Step 3: Present the new idea with credible evidence.

Step 4: Ask the audience to ‘act as if they believed for just a moment’.

Step 5: Reinforce the idea and present them with situations where the idea is accurate and true.

Step 6: Give them proof, testimonials or let them sample your product.

Step 7: When they create the new belief, reward them. Make them part of the club.


He then goes on to discuss how curiosity is the impetus to change, and how creating curiosity opens the door for persuasion to begin. Once a person is curious, we need to make sure that the idea we are trying to convey is relevant. So many people (especially in sales) are trying to persuade, without first seeking to understand how their product is relevant to the needs (perceived or otherwise) of their target market.

 ‘The majority of people will not make decisions do not because they have no idea how they will know when they have achieved success.’ (P113) So, you need to clearly define your message as well as your desired outcome.

 Lakhani has created the Persuasion Equation:

 Position + Presentation X Influence = Persuasion


            -Persona: Your dress, body language, authority.

            -Positioning in regards to your audience: Are they the decision makers?

            -Story: Customise your story to the audience.


            -Establish relevancy, rapport and importance:


            -Build your audiences beliefs and their desire to believe.

            -Cause your audience to be curious and engage you in more detailed conversations.

            -Challenge their answers so they think more deeply about the subject.

            -Get them to take small actions that lead to bigger ones.

Persuasion on Selling:

‘The old saying that people do not like to be sold to is true. But everyone loves to be given all of the information needed to make a good decision, wouldn’t you agree?’ (P160)

Lakhani suggests that customers want:

            -To be made aware they have a need, or to have their need validated

            -A relevant solution

            -Answers to their questions

            -Detailed information to make a good decision

            -Reassurance that they are making the right decision

            -Permission to make the right decision now.

He suggest that people want to be served and that we don’t need to complicate things. Selling is about leading them through small decisions and letting them buy.

I can personally echo his thoughts here. During my career as a professional portrait photographer I had to say in my head, ‘be quiet and let them buy’. We have the urge to step in and fill the silence, when so often that silence is what a customer needs to make the decision. My sales mentor had a saying, ‘The person who speaks first loses’.

Towards the end of the book Lakhani moves on to persuasion through advertising. He suggests that persuasive advertising tells a story that only you can tell, and that you need to look at your ads and substitute your competitors name for yours. ‘Can my competitors say the same thing about themselves that I do about myself?’ (p175)

Persuasive ads pull the audience into the story. The customer sees themselves in it. Exceptional ads give clients a real reason to believe what you are saying is true. Lakhani concludes the book with some ideas on persuading using electronic media.


Persuasion on negotiation:

 David suggests that there are seven steps in the process of negotiation, these are very similar to his seven steps for belief creation and the change process in chapter 7:

Step 1: Let the other party present their proposal first. It gives you an opportunity to look for common ground.

Step 2: Test assumptions to see what is negatable and what is not.

Step 3: Once you test something let it rest for a while.

Step 4: Ask the audience to ‘act as if they believed for just a moment’.

Step 5: Reinforce the idea and present them with situations where the idea is accurate and true.

Step 6: Give them proof, testimonials or let them sample your product.

Step 7: When they create the new belief, reward them. Make them part of the club.


Overall I found the book to be very insightful. It lays out step by step, simple to follow processes and techniques for persuasion.  The first few chapters are a little simple but when you get to the ‘meat’ of the book there are some effective strategies to learn and put into practice.

Although the book was originally published in 2005 it's content is still very relevant.


Blog by Nathan Archer - Certified High Performance Coach


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