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Persuasion for Consultants: Book Review

By Michael Zipursky
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Arlene Dickinson’s story could be called one of Rags to Riches. The co-star of one of Canada’s most popular TV shows, Dragons Den (the equivalent America’s Shark Tank), has gone from living a life of desperation to one of glamour and fame.

Her journey, and indeed it was one, contains more than luck and being in the right place at the right time. Hard work, taking risks and ultimately learning how to be persuasive got Arlene to where she is today; a TV star and millionaire owner of a marketing and communications firm in Calgary.

In her book, Persuasion: A new approach to changing minds (published by Collins), Dickinson shares her story and provides valuable life and business lessons that she learned along the way.

With a title like Persuasion, I was expecting a book filled with hands on tactics about how to be more persuasive. What I found was more a macro-level approach. This isn’t a bad thing, just something you should prepare for. Dickinson provides countless stories from her own life and creates an environment of learning that is more about shifting your mindset and approach than specific tactics to implement.

I didn’t find all of the lessons to be new, but many of them are worth repeating.

Very frequently, it’s the people who have the courage to be decisive, even if the outcome is less than optimal, who wind up with the corner office.

As I read the book I could feel its integrity and honesty. Dickinson’s approach is different than your usual book on persuasion and sales.

Some of the many great lessons include:

  • Tell your clients the hard truth and what you really think, even if they may not want to hear it.
  • Don’t say you know something when you don’t, it’s okay to say so when you don’t know.
  • Preparation is key to all aspects of business and most people don’t do a good job of it.
  • Mindset and confidence is a big part of success. Don’t talk yourself out of it.
  • How to decide when to go for something and when to hold off.
  • You need to take chances. “If you wait until you’re 100 percent sure, you may miss the chance. And if you wit until success is guaranteed, you most definitely will be waiting forever.”

That last point is so powerful and in and of itself is worth the price of this book. Please read it again. It can have such an impact on your life!

In Chapter 11 the book changes gears and the author gets specific on topics of:

  • How to make a business pitch.
  • How to land and effectively deal with an interview.
  • How to send an effective pitch letter to start the sales relationship.
  • And several mistakes and opportunities with cold calls.

The book ends with a discussion on how to deal with “failure” and “winning” and is a worthwhile read for every person in business.

Dickinson’s story is a great one and learning lessons from someone that has accomplished so much is always an investment with a strong ROI in your future.

More Information
You can get more details on the book on the publisher’s website here:

The book is available through the publisher and on Amazon here.

You can connect with the author on Facebook or Twitter as well.

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