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Simple Jury Persuasion: The tactics of effective salespeople

Friday, October 29, 2010
posted by Rita Handrich

If you don’t think litigation advocacy is about selling ideas, stories and yourself (or your client), we invite you to think again! Robert Cialdini is one of those best known for applying marketing concepts to persuasion. A new post by Steve W. Martin at Harvard Business Review’s blogs focuses on what truly effective and persuasive salespeople do and we’re going to translate those tactics into what truly effective and persuasive trial lawyers do. There are three basic tactics used by what Martin calls “the heavy hitters”:

Every customer has his or her own unique language.

In sales: Rather than using the company ‘spiel’, you want to personalize the pitch to the individual customer.

In litigation advocacy: You want to craft a case narrative and present your witnesses and case in chief in a form that resonates with the jurors on your panel. You do this through a combination of pre-trial preparation and careful voir dire and jury selection and then some final tweaking once your jury is seated.

Successful salespeople build rapport through harmonious communication.

In sales: Avoid talking about yourself, focus instead on ‘them’. Learn about their concerns, values, problems and desires.

In litigation advocacy: You are telling a story that reflects the values, concerns, problems and experiences of the venire (and therefore, of your jurors). While you are telling the story of your client (and of their injury, invention, deception, mistreatment, or bad behavior) you are telling that story in a way that draws jurors in and therefore builds rapport.

3. People are persuaded through personal connections.

In sales: You have to make a personal connection in order to get the person to act. That may be done through any number of strategies or even shared experiences.

In litigation advocacy: You make the personal connection through your interactions with jurors over the course of the trial. You do not waste their time. You show them you care about the case. You are direct, genuine, and straightforward. You make them want to right this wrong, correct this injustice, fix this error. In short, you connect with their desire to do the right thing.

Advocacy in litigation has much in common with the persuasion aspect of sales. But what you are selling is a story, a vision of the future if a wrong is allowed to continue, and the duty of the good citizen to respond.

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