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Rocket GTM 🚀 - Persuasion & The Path of Least Resistance

Alfie Marsh
Alfie Marsh
The Path of Least Resistance
What does a stockbroker, the sun, and the wind have to teach you about persuasion?
Many years ago I read a book called “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator”.
Despite being a book about trading stocks, it taught me a powerful lesson in the art of persuasion.
Today, I want to share that lesson with you.
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator is, above all, a book about trading. So if you’re into stocks or crypto then it’s a must read. But there was one concept I took away that’s helped me tremendously in life and business.
The concept of “The Path of Least Resistance”.
Imagine a meandering river. It flows left, then right, then left again.
But why does the river curve?
Rivers curve because water always flows towards the path of least resistance.
(Watch this 2 minute video for a more in-depth answer)
Why Do Rivers Curve?
Why Do Rivers Curve?
Just like water, stocks also flow towards the path of least resistance.
This was the original lesson in “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator”.
To demonstrate this, I’m using a chart of current Bitcoin prices. Using some very basic technical analysis I can see there are some levels of resistance in blue.
(Yes, I’m talking about trading right now but it does relate to startup sales I promise).
Yesterday, bitcoin smashed through those levels of resistance and is likely to continue going up since “upwards” is the new path of least resistance.
The key takeaways here are:
  • Bitcoin just broke out of an area of historical resistance
  • The new path of least resistance is upwards
  • It’s a good time to buy bitcoin*
*Disclaimer: Not investment advice.
In a nutshell, you can use the path of least resistance to predict where prices are likely to go and then make bets in that direction.
So now we know…
Rivers flow towards the path of least resistance.
Stocks trade towards the path of least resistance.
But it’s not just rivers and stocks that follow the the path of least resistance.
Humans do too.
If you want to influence how people behave, you must understand how to identify the current path of least resistance, and create a new one if needed.
To put this into a sales perspective, think about this example:
Someone is unsure whether to invite their boss to a demo call.
Is the path of least resistance to:
a) invite their boss anyway
or
b) lie to you and say they have decision making authority so you don’t push to invite someone else
Option b) is clearly the easiest path, but it’s not the ideal one.
Average sales people give into whatever path they’re presented with, but great sales people know how to craft new paths and get their prospects to walk down them.
Building A New Path of Least Resistance
Just like the muskrat in the video above, there are many factors that will determine the default path.
For example, let’s say you’re having a discovery call with a medium level employee. They’re a champion of your product, but this person doesn’t have decision making authority. Will they invite their boss to the call?
That’ll depend on factors such as:
  • Do they trust you?
  • If they invited their boss, would they even come?
  • Is their boss even aware of the problem that needs solving?
  • Why does the champion think it’s better to keep their boss out of the conversation?
At the end of the day people act in their best interests. If they choose not to invite someone to a call, it’s because they think that’s the best (or easiest) option.
It’s up to you to convince them a different path is in their best interests.
But as we all know, that’s easier said than done…
The Sun 🌞 versus The Wind 💨
One day the Sun and the Wind had a competition to see who was stronger.
They tried to get a man to remove his coat. The Wind huffed and puffed as hard as he could, but the man just kept holding tighter. The Sun came along and shone brightly. It didn’t take long before the man began to sweat and took his coat off all by himself.
What’s the moral of the story?
(2:56 mins) 👇
The North Wind and the Sun: A Fable by Aesop
The North Wind and the Sun: A Fable by Aesop
The moral of the story is simple:
People do things because they want to, not because you force them.
Sales reps who tell prospects what to do, never win. Telling people what’s in their best interests also doesn’t work. Forcing your will upon someone is also a terrible idea. Imagine saying “hey, I’m not going to do this demo unless your boss is present.” 🙈
Changing your perspective from;
how can I get someone to do something”
to
“how can I get someone to want to do something”
helps us reframe the problem. The question now becomes,
“how do I get my prospect to want to bring their boss on the call?
Your prospect must come to their own conclusion that it’s in their best interest to invite their boss, you can do this by using hypothetical scenarios.
Asking questions is a great way to replace telling someone what to do.
Questions are there to be answered, and it’s your prospect who answers them. Don’t tell your prospect what to think, ask them a question and they’ll tell you what they think.
Ask good enough questions and you’ll change how they think.
Questions let people come to conclusions on their own. That’s a far more powerful way to change someones mind.
Examples:
Statement: "It’s better to bring your boss on the call to avoid delays in the project or buying the wrong thing”
Question: How would you feel if you spent four weeks assessing Spendesk, only to have your boss reject your proposal due to a misalignment on goals?”
Question “Would a 20 minute upfront investment to align your team be worth it to avoid a potential 4 weeks of delays to this project?”
Remember, your prospect’s are not professional buyers. They don’t have playbooks for buying products.
Their “path of least resistance” is likely not the ideal path to the best outcome. They’ll default to protecting stakeholders, hiding information, and keeping you as far away from their team as possible.
You must create new paths, help them come to new conclusions, and make it easy for them to buy.
Use targeted questions and create new revelations.
Wrapping It Up 🌯
People will make decisions based on the path of least resistance, so you better make sure that path leads to the right outcome.
If it doesn’t, then it’s up to you to modify the path and get them to want to walk down it. People do what’s in their best interests. Not because you told them it is, but because they’ve come to their own conclusions.
Find the river. Modify the river. Be the sun. Not the wind.
Persuasion is about getting people to do what they want to do.
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Alfie Marsh
Alfie Marsh @alfieisamarsh

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