The four persuasive types – which one is your strength?

In my capacity as a pitch coach, I meet lots of clients who need to be persuasive at work and at home. At the extreme end, I regularly help bid teams to win deals worth $500 to $700 million. I help companies that are up for sale through the acquisition process. I help executives pitch strategy to their board for approval, and analysts pitch solutions to their business. I help scientists and academics pitch for funding. I help leaders persuade their team members and team members persuade their leaders! I even help people speak up with courage and confidence in team meetings. My aim is always to ensure these people are as persuasive and successful as possible.


Over the years, what became increasingly obvious to me in my work is that most people have no awareness of their current persuasive strengths and weaknesses. Even in sales, people tend to wing it a lot of the time. So I set out to find a way to give people an insight into where they were already good at persuasion, and where they might need to develop some capability so that they could be more persuasive more of the time.


After many years of research and development, I’ve identified four sets of ‘key persuasion indicators’, or KPIs. Based on these four sets, I’ve also developed four persuasive approaches or types. Without even realising it, you lean towards one or more of my persuasion types, and use these same approaches in every situation where you’re hoping to influence someone else. By being more aware of your more natural persuasion type/s, you can get a better idea of your current persuasive strengths and weaknesses. You can also start to build your ability to use other persuasive approaches, depending on the person and situation.

Understanding the key persuasion indicators

We are all persuaded in different ways, and this affects our approach when persuading others.


The body of research on persuasion highlights that the degree to which we are persuaded by someone depends on whether or not they adequately address the ‘key persuasion indicators’ or KPIs.


These KPIs can be broken into four sets, based on the different focuses people have when being persuaded. These sets, and the KPIs within them, are shown in table 1.1.

Table 1.1: Key persuasion indicators broken into four sets

Whether by rational thought or feeling, we all tend to place a different level of importance on each set of KPIs. For instance, some people won’t be persuaded by you unless your argument is rational and logical, and backed by verifiable facts and research. Other people really care about the credibility of the messenger. They need to know that you have the runs on the board and the vibe that you really know what you’re talking about. They need to know you are someone they can trust because you are an authority in your field. Then there are people who need to know you care about them. They need to feel a strong emotional connection to you before they are open to being persuaded by you. And, finally, some people need to sense your passion and enthusiasm before they will be persuaded by you. They need to be swept up in your excitement.


You may find that more than one of the sets of KPIs are important to you. This means you may have a primary type, a secondary type and a least preferred type.

Introducing the four persuasion types

I used the four sets of KPIs to develop the four different persuasion types.

The four persuasive types, along with the KPI set they’re based on, their descriptor and the method they’re driven to persuade by, are shown in table 1.2.

Table 1.2: The four persuasive types

Even though I’ve separated out the four persuasion types, only a rare individual would be strong in one type and not in any of the others.

Similar to your alignment with one or two of the KPIs sets, you’ll find you naturally lean towards being strong in two (or even three) of the persuasion types. While you will always be inclined towards these types, being more aware of your approaches, and the other approaches and behaviours available, means you can work on your relative strengths and weaknesses. You can also work towards demonstrating the behaviours of other persuasion types as the situation or person/people requires it.


If you would like to assess your own persuasive strengths and weaknesses visit this link!


Happy Persuading!

© Michelle Bowden 2022.  Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), Creator of the Persuasion Smart Profile® (a world-first psychological assessment tool that reports on your persuasive strengths and weaknesses at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media.


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