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Questions reveal more than Answers

The importance of the art of persuasion for an entrepreneur does not need much explaining. Starting with the need to convince potential cofounders or team members (or even family members to allow them to chase a new idea) all the way to raising funds, to selling to the first customers, it is the entrepreneur’s persuasive skills that come to the fore and are continually tested.

Entrepreneurs make persuasion a two-way street. Even as they are persuading, they are also asking “are you the right person for me to speak to”. They only persuade people who are able to contribute effectively (where they have a skill gap) or people who are able to add value to their Business Frame. The others, they will skip past. They develop a skill that lets them know if they should invest their time in the conversation, or pitch.

A thought leader in the area of persuasion is bestselling author, Daniel H. Pink, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. It’s worth recalling his ABCs for persuading others; 

  • Attunement: listening to and understanding the other person, 

  • Buoyancy: being optimistic and resilient, especially in the face of repeated rejection, and 

  • Clarity: the ability to take all relevant information and separate the signal from the noise.


Attunement requires further elaboration as we believe it is perhaps the most critical of the steps and expresses Pink’s conviction about the importance of questioning. To quote him, ‘…when the facts are on your side, questions are more persuasive than statements, don't you think you should be pitching more with questions’? Questions are such an important tool, that entrepreneurs often don’t take advantage of. Questions to understand the customer needs, questions to understand why the customer comes to a set of conclusions, questions about the value delivered, and many more. In short, questions often reveal more than answers!

In summary, successful entrepreneurs adopt various techniques, such as: 

  • Focus on the Persuadable few – it is the swing voters who count.

  • Persist. Learn and practice buoyancy, the ability to come back to the surface despite repeated rejections.

  • Create scarcity: It creates its own value perception.

  • Create urgency. Eventually, it is all about priorities.

  • Learn multiple strategies and use the one appropriate for each occasion.

  • Show flexibility in what is offered and what is sought.

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